Buckingham Primary School


Background

In 2006 Bucks County Council set up a music project to give 30 schools across Buckinghamshire access to Gigajam’s Essential Skills Courses for guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, giving thousands of students the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.  Buckingham Primary School was invited to participate by the Local Authority because of its existing commitment to ICT and music specialist within the school.

Objectives

The school wanted to provide an opportunity for primary age children to experience playing a musical instrument, with a view to students developing a permanent interest now and in the future. 

Participants

All four Year 6 groups have a one-hour Gigajam session per week.  That’s 102 students aged 10 and 11 learning to play a musical instrument.  The lessons are delivered by Libby Lane, the school’s music specialist.  Although the school has peripatetic music teachers, they are not involved in the project.  The students are in mixed ability groups and the more able children have been good at helping with the reading of the lesson notes. 

Implementation

Access for schools to Gigajam content is through BucksGfL, the County broadband Virtual Learning Environment.  The user-password system means that the lessons are available to students who can log on, at any time, from anywhere.

Buckingham Primary School is lucky enough to have a performing arts and music studio, where most of the lessons take place.  The studio is an open area that can be utilised in many ways.  It has a wireless port and is the ideal space for Gigajam lessons.

The school has wireless laptops that can be taken into the studio.  Through the project with Bucks County Council, the school acquired nine midi guitars, a drum machine and a keyboard to add to its existing stock of three keyboards.  Since starting the project, another drum machine, a digital drum kit and two bass guitars have been purchased.

Impacts and Outcomes

Jan Jones, Head Teacher at Buckingham Primary School said: “The number of children who are now learning to play instruments across the school as a whole has increased, though not necessarily the Gigajam instruments, but it has sparked an interest in music.  Boys in particular are definitely engaged during the lessons – it has the cool factor!”

Students are reported to enjoy watching the video clips, the hands-on practical approach to learning music, and playing along with the backing tracks.  Children occasionally practise what they have learned in bands and some may perform during the school’s performing arts evenings.

Future Developments

Although the school currently uses Gigajam through Bucks Grid for Learning, plans are in place to run the lessons through its own Virtual Learning Environment to make it more user-friendly for the students. 

Jan Jones continued: “We are going to be looking into purchasing more instruments in the future. Gigajam is definitely a great project for Year 6.”