Transition: Sheku Kanneh-Mason school visit and Lambeth Music Festival Conference

At the beginning of March, parents across the country found out where their child would be going to secondary school. Where their child will most likely spend at least the next five years of their life.

Some parents will have received great news, whilst others may not have got the news they wanted or expected. However, for most this will be the start of a period of new challenges and entering the relative unknown. New teachers, new classmates, new opportunities and new ways of doing nearly everything.

For LMM Learning this means that children who have received high quality and focussed music tuition for the last seven suddenly find themselves in a brand new environment, looking to continue their development as a young musician and keep their love of music alive. Will there be an instrumental teacher available in school? Will there be a waiting list to receive those lessons? Will the school be aware of their talent and nurture their already advanced musical skills? Or will those skills suddenly take a backseat on a mainstream music curriculum that doesn’t cater to their ability and skillset?

Although the above can be a big challenge, especially on top of all the other changes that come with moving to secondary school, London Music Masters believes that with improved communication, the right infrastructure and a willingness to provide pathways for children of all music abilities, we can do better.

Recently, LMM Learning were delighted to welcome cellist and LMM Junior Ambassador Sheku Kanneh-Mason to Jessop Primary where he met with the Year 6 children and their parents to talk about moving to secondary school and the challenges that come with the transition.

Find out what Sheku experienced on his visit to the school and what he discussed during the days activities through the short film below.

Sheku, who last year won BBC Young Musician and is enjoying a fast growing career as a musician, is now in his final year of secondary school and knows first-hand what it is like to balance school life and his musical progression. “It is difficult at times to balance both my practise and school work”, says Sheku. “There are a lot of hours in the day and you just have to get really good at balancing your time well”.

Sheku made it clear on his visit that, while continuing as a young musician beyond primary school is hard work, it is a challenge that involves self-determination, plenty of parental and family support and specific musical encouragement from school and music teachers, arts organisations and local orchestras/ensembles. Speaking to a group of parents of Year 5 and 6 children on why children give up on music, Sheku says that “there are many reasons (that a child might give up), it could be not having the support to continue to work hard. Especially when you’re a young child it can be difficult to be that disciplined… Children need that encouragement when they’re young.”

This is why London Music Masters are delighted to be delivering TIME: Transition in Music Education, at this year’s Lambeth Music Festival on Thursday 23rd March. Bringing together over 50 individuals from Lambeth-based and national arts organisations, primary and secondary schools, music teachers and orchestra/ensemble leaders, the conference will use the findings of LMM’s year-long transition research project with St Mary’s University, Twickenham as the impetus to explore how schools and arts organisations can better support transition. Discussing ways young musicians can engage with continuation opportunities between primary and secondary schools and post sixteen, the aim will be to review the music progression routes available in Lambeth and beyond.

London Music Masters believes it is time to move forward with this issue. Working together with the skillsets and strengths of all organisations and individuals, the challenges that transition presents can become much easier to tackle for all musical children.

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