All Together Now showcased at ‘inspiring’ conference

13 June 2024

We recently attended the annual Devon Music Education Conference where we showcased our All Together Now project, and we’ve been delighted with the response from professionals in the sector.

The event at Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre was hosted by the Devon and Torbay Music Education Hubs and brought together music leaders and staff from schools, and external music education providers.

We were among the external facilitators who were invited to hold a workshop at the conference, and we replicated one of our All Together Now sessions with delegates so they could get a real ‘hands on’ feel of its accessibility and engagement.

The All Together Now programme was delivered to six SEND schools (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in Plymouth.  It was done with the Plymouth Music Education Hub, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the University of Plymouth. The sessions were led by two of our professional musicians and singers, Jon Dyer and Jenny Read, with Paul Wilson also centrally involved especially in planning and reviewing. Paul and Jenny both attended the conference on 24 May.

Paul outlined the structure of the All Together Now programme: “We had a Foundation session followed by five sessions at each of the schools and then a ‘topping out’ session for feedback.”

Jenny continued: “We started and finished with a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ song so that people had a total sense of who we are. We sang a pre-written song, and we played a tune together. Then we wrote a new song, and it culminated in 2022 with a Finale, where we brought it all together, inviting all the participating schools.

“The All Together Now programme was planned in close partnership with the Plymouth Music Education Hub and Plymouth University and as a result was really well constructed,” she added. “Owing to its success, we were asked to come to the conference to present two full contact sessions to the delegates.”

At the conference, we ran a sample of one of the five sessions and treated the delegates as if they were one of the groups of children we’d worked with. Stu Penman from Woodlands School gave a terrific endorsement of the programme to round off the morning session.

“There was a fabulous response,” said Paul. “There was a lot of interest in All Together Now, and we are aiming to work with the profession to cover Devon and Torbay. That’s what we want to do.”

He added: “What Wren does which is unusual, is that we provide real instruments which everyone can play, for example, a dulcimer. We can place it across a child with disabilities, and if they can move one finger, they can strum it and feel the vibration. It’s very accessible.

“In fact, the skills we bring through this SEND work can be applied across all schools, primary and secondary, with the same impact. Already, following the conference, a primary school in North Devon has asked if we can work with one of their classes which has a high number of SEND pupils, but they feel the whole class will benefit.”

We were excited to have the chance to showcase All Together Now, and Paul said: “The whole conference was inspiring. It was an unrivalled opportunity for professionals to network in the sector. It was a fantastic day, and it was great for us to be there and be part of it.”

Find out more about All Together Now on the Plymouth Music Education Hub website