Our History

Musical Futures is a not-for-profit organisation, which first began in the UK in 2003 as a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative. The project launched publicly in 2005.

Where it all began

The Musical Futures approach has a strong grounding in academic research.

Professor Lucy Green’s (Emerita Professor of Music Education at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society) extensive research into How Popular Musicians Learn informed the development of the Informal Learning model, with Professor Green leading the action research in Hertfordshire.

Professor Green also highlighted the disconnect between young peoples’ love of music outside of the classroom and their enjoyment of classroom music lessons in her books ‘How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead For Music Education’ and ‘Music, Informal Learning and the School’. The informal learning model pioneered by Professor Lucy Green explores ways to enhance pupil motivation, enjoyment and skill acquisition in music lessons by tapping into the real-life learning practices of popular musicians.

Learn more about our approach ›

Professor Lucy Green: How informal approaches to music learning can be incorporated in the more formal setting of music in schools ​

The significant Paul Hamlyn Foundation investment enabled a year of consultation followed by the rigorous testing of models and approaches over two years through ‘Pathfinder’ action research projects in Nottingham, Leeds and Hertfordshire involving classroom teachers, Local Authority Music Services, universities and music education sector experts.

The background research, pathfinder projects and the work in schools in those areas that followed, culminated in the publication of Musical Futures Pamphlets and a Musical Futures 1st Edition Teacher Pack that outlined the original pedagogy, research, projects and impact of the Musical Futures approach in the early 2000’s – all of which were made available free of charge. If you are not already familiar with Musical Futures, these are a good place to start.

Continuing support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the Musical Futures Special Initiative allowed the continuation of a professional development training offer and resources to support classroom teaching for the increasingly growing community of practitioners.

The publication of Musical Futures: An Approach To Teaching and Learning 2nd Edition Teacher Pack in 2008, as a follow up to the Paul Hamlyn Musical Futures Special Initiative, sought to build on the experiences of those teachers who had adopted Musical Futures within their classroom practice. Whilst many aspects of this second edition are similar to the first edition, the advice and guidance was updated to reflect how teachers and practitioners developed Musical Futures in practice.  It is still the definitive guide to informal learning, classroom workshopping and how to apply these approaches and includes resource materials, case studies and other contributions from these teachers.

This publication, along with a growing professional development programme, was instrumental in the expanding reach of Musical Futures to many more secondary schools, both in the UK and across the world.

In 2014, Musical Futures received further generous support from the Paul Hamlyn foundation to become an independent not-for-profit organisation. This allowed Musical Futures to continue its work to provide training, resources and support for practitioners.

Musical Futures was selected by Finnish global education non-profit HundrED in 2017 as one of 100 most innovative education projects across the world due to its unique pioneering status and ability to create a scalable impact.

Our Musical Futures Tech Champions initiative, in partnership with Ableton, launched in 2019. This allowed us to address the changing landscape of the music that young people listened to almost more than a decade after the original pathfinder projects. The programme explored how the principles of informal learning set out by Lucy Green could be applied to the music classroom through the use of technology, the results of which were evaluated in an Independent Report into the Musical Futures Tech Champions Project.

Musical Futures Online

Since 2020 and the onset of the global COVID pandemic, Musical Futures has undergone a period of transition and subsequently launched a new online resource platform – Musical Futures Online

The platform allows us to provide a continually updated and ever growing library of resources bank which can accessed by both teachers and students.

In March 2022 we were thrilled to have been named as the winner of the “Outstanding Music Education Resource” at the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022 and in November, following judging by a panel of external independent judges, two further Teach Co awards.

The resources allow Musical Futures to continue to support our training programme and provide practical support for both primary and secondary teachers to deliver engaging, relevant and practical music lessons to their learners.

Musical Futures Online website displayed on a tablet device

The Impact of Musical Futures

The impact of Musical Futures on the educational landscape has been significant both in the UK and beyond.

Research papers and publications to assess the impact of the Musical Futures approach have been carried out both in the UK and internationally to assess the impact of the Musical Futures approach.

UK and International Publications, Research and Reports into the Impact of Musical Futures:

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