Training and Support

‘ How different our music sessions have become and how easy it was to do with the right help!’ Fontmell Magna Under Fives

Do you work with under 7s?

Perhaps in a

  • school
  • pre-school
  • nursery
  • mothers and toddlers group ?

Do you and the children in your care find yourselves singing the same half a dozen songs, week in, week out?

Do you have a box of miscellaneous instruments (probably with bits missing!) whose names are a mystery and that you don’t really know what to do with?

Would you run away and hide in the store cupboard (protesting that music simply isn’t your thing!) at the mere suggestion that you might lead some songs?

If so, we can help you transform your music times by

  • introducing you to new songs and fresh ideas that both children and adults will love!

‘When you sing every day with children for over twelve years, I’m afraid you get stagnant… You’ve given us the ideas to change our boring song time into a much more inspired one…’ Rosie

‘Many of our parents reported the children singing new songs at home or in the car after we embarked on the project. As the parents were interested to hear more, we had an open morning at Christmas and invited them all to come in and hear a music session. We had a huge turnout… and a fantastic response to the music and the project. They were amazed at how well the children sang and how many new songs they had learnt in a short time.’ Tracey

  • showing you how to add to the fun with puppets and props

‘ I never imagined there could be such a dramatic change in the excitement level at song time!’  Rosie

‘The children look forward to and ask for instruments and songs. Its brilliant to see children excited and eager to take part.’ Val

  • teaching you a wide variety of songs, games and activities for use with the percussion instruments you probably have in your box!

‘We hardly ever used our instruments, and when we did, it was with dread, as the children banged and clashed as hard as they could! We have all increased in knowledge of percussion instruments and how to play them. The children know all their names and can recognise their sounds.’ Becky

‘When we used to do music, the children would basically bash the instruments as hard as they could while we sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle.’ Now they are learning about rhythm, beat, how to share the instruments, how to play only at certain times, the names of a really great range of instruments and of course improving their singing.’ Jenny

  • explaining the basic principles of planning and preparing a music session to create a truly engaging and stimulating experience for everyone

‘We have gained so much from this project, how to plan a session including the right balance of songs, rhymes, instruments and actions…. We now spend time planning our music sessions whereas before we would decide what to sing on the spur of the moment.’ Becky

  • Giving you simple steps to take that will boost your confidence, and inspire and empower you and your team

‘I have always been quite interested in music, but before doing this course my shyness and lack of confidence held me back… The course has taught me how simple it can be to produce some fantastic music sessions with the children.’ Jenny

‘I’ve quite surprised myself actually! I can’t believe how much better I feel about music and singing with children….’ Hazel

‘I have become confident in organising a music session using a wide range of instruments and songs. I am starting to structure a toddler session on a Tuesday and feel that I am able to make it fun without getting nervous in front of all the carers/mums.’  Wendy

Tailor-made programmes of training and support

We would be happy to discuss your needs as an individual or as a team, and can offer a tailor-made programme of training and support, either on a one off basis or as part of a longer programme of professional development spread over a number of terms.

We can offer workshops on a number of themes including

  • The benefits of making music with pre-schoolers
  • How to create a great music session
  • Making the most of your voice
  • How to use percussion instruments, props and puppets
  • Planning, preparation and record keeping
  • Integrating music into the curriculum
  • Helping children create their own piece of music
  • Encouraging children to listen to music ( including introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra)

Training CD and accompanying manual

Central to every programme is our training CD and accompanying manual which allow participants to practice the new songs at home and offer tips and guidance on how to use these songs with children.

But it’s also very important for participants to be able to see the ideas and principles we have discussed being put into practice. We have found that the best way to do this is for us to come and lead some music sessions in your setting during the course of your normal working day.

Our approach to training has been developed and refined over a number of years of working with Early Years practitioners in a variety of settings, most notably during our partnership with Artsreach on an Early Years music project for rural pre-schools.

‘Artsreach has been working with 6 rural pre-schools to develop a fun and creative Early Years Music programme. Nickie Fidgin and Gill Bough of Playsongs Plus have been leading the project which includes a specially designed programme of training and support for pre-school staff and volunteers together with a fantastic resource box of instruments, CD’s and books for each pre-school to keep.

The results have exceeded all expectations – staff have developed confidence and expertise in planning and leading excellent music sessions, the general level of expectation of what children can achieve has soared with spin offs in all areas of their work – children who couldn’t sit still for 5 minutes are happily concentrating on a 45 minute music session; they have learnt to take turns; gross and fine motor co-ordination has developed; listening, communication and language skills have improved and there has been an overall increase in confidence and  motivation. The pre-schools now have the resources and expertise they need to run varied and interesting music sessions, music is integrated throughout the pre-school session and, above all, the children have a huge enjoyment of music, including listening to classical music.

This project has transformed the way music is used in the pre-schools that have benefited from the project (Winfrith Pre-School in Winfrith Newburgh, Stower Vale in Stour Provost, Syding Springs in Sydling St Nicholas, The Chase Nursery in Sixpenny Handley, Stepping Stones in Sturminster Newton and Fontmell Magna Under Fives in Fontmell Magna.) Artsreach now hopes to find funding to develop this model and spread the benefits to more rural pre-schools in Dorset.’ Artsreach


More recently we’ve worked with a variety of settings in the south of Dorset as part of the Bournemouth and Poole Cultural Hub Early Years Artist in Residence Project, including
•    Ashley Cross Nursery, Poole
•    St Barnabas Pre-School, Queens Park, Bournemouth
•    Merley Community Pre-School, Wimborne
•    Townsend Neighbourhood Nursery, Bournemouth

On a slightly different note, if you work with children under 7, you might also be interested in a book co-authored by Nickie when she was working on an Early Years project with DEED (Development Education In Dorset)   To Begin at the Beginning Bringing a Global Dimension to the Early Years by Joanna Brightwell and Nickie Fidgin. Published in 2005, this manual is available to buy from DEED priced £10 (RRP £15) + p&p

Begin At The Beginning

To Begin at the Beginning is an exciting, user-friendly activity manual, designed to help Early Years practitioners introduce young children to global education and lay foundations of respect and empathy. All the activities have been tried and tested by Joanna and Nickie, along with the pre-schools, nurseries and childminders who took part in the project of the same name. The book explains how these activities support Early Learning Goals and suggests ideas for follow-up activities and discussion points. While not explicit, the activities also link to the new Standards in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Includes chapters on play, stories, arts and crafts, and of course music!

“DEED has produced an innovative and inspiring manual, introducing young children in Dorset to global education in an accessible and hands-on manner”
Iram Siraj-Blatchford (PhD), Professor of Early Childhood Education, Institute of Education, University of London.

“All of us at Harambee would like to congratulate you on your excellent Early Years publication. I brought it into the office this morning and no-one has stopped raving about it. Just as a summary – we all thought it was clear, user-friendly, well presented (some fantastic photographs), full of innovative ideas, and was an excellent way of promoting other resources. This kind of book really fills a niche market – it is just what Early Years practitioners are looking for and we think it will enhance their teaching fantastically!”
The Harambee Centre (promoting understanding and action on global issues), Cambridge

Click here to download an order form.

For more information about DEED, click here.