News: We are the Musical Futures Tech Champions!

6th June 2019

Our Musical Futures Tech Champion programme recognises that music has changed – most music today is created using technology in some way, whether it’s samples, loops and synthesised instruments or using technology to support live performance.  In order to make sure that music in schools remains relevant for young people, we need to reflect these interests in the classroom and provide students with opportunities to perform and create the music that they enjoy, like and identify with through the use of authentic tools and processes. The aims for this project are bold – we want to change the culture of music education within schools to reflect the musical interests of our young people and to engage more students in music making.

We are excited about our partnership with Ableton, whose Live software provides a professional platform for artists to create and perform music.  It is the performance aspect of Ableton Live that particularly interests us at Musical Futures, as we believe that effective classroom practice involves moving away from the often isolated music technology work of one student working on a computer with a pair of headphones.  Ableton Live offers opportunities to explore collaborative music creation and performances, and also provides a platform to explore new repertoire and approaches for classroom ensembles.  In addition to providing free software and hardware for the schools, the project will also supply students with free software so that they can continue their learning at home.

Here two of our new Musical Futures Tech Champions explain what being involved in the programme will offer them, their students and their school:

Andy McClean – Larbert High School, Falkirk

“Wednesday was so ridiculously inspiring.  I’ve come back to work buzzing to get going with the project, and what’s most exciting is that everyone on the team feels the same way!  You get the feeling that yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg and the potential to grow tech as a performance instrument could make a massive change in the teaching & delivery of music in schools.

From hearing everyone’s back stories, it’s pretty clear that everyone has something different to bring to the table and this can only be of benefit to us all. I’d have loved the event to have been over a few days so that we could have had a chance to network more and to try and work out how we could help each other best. WhatsApp, emails, facebook groups and twitter are all handy but there’s nothing like a face to face chat with a cuppa (and box of massive chocolate cookies).

I see things at school evolving considerably next year. We’re going to be road testing tech instruments with certain classes and running lunchtime groups for those who want to deepen their understanding. We’re also starting to book bands who use tech on stage to come and present to our pupils, run work shops and more generally push the idea of what can now be done in a live situation.”

Beth Jenkins – Lewis School, Pengam

“Earlier this year we received an email to become one of the Musical Futures ‘Tech Champion Schools’ which was an honour and privilege to become involved in such a prestigious scheme for Music Education in Great Britain. As a result we were invited to Fred Longworth High School on the outskirts of Manchester for the first meeting of all the Tech Champions.

After an early morning start we arrived to give a quick background of Music at Lewis School Pengam. We are an all boys-comprehensive school in the heart of the Rhymney Valley situated approximately 15 miles north of Cardiff. Music is very well supported at Lewis School Pengam and as a result we run courses in GCSE Music, BTEC Music Technology (L2 and 3) and A Level Music. Once the introductions were completed, the real learning began with an exciting overview to the next year of the project with peer mentoring, pupil involvement and a festival planned in Summer 2020.

To enable us to deliver the Tech project in school we have been given Ableton Live licences as well as 2 Push Controllers. The task ahead was daunting but so exciting to engage a different musician into the Music Department at Lewis School Pengam. We were able to experiment with the Push controllers in live and recording settings with Simon and Max from Ableton at hand to iron out any problems. This was the most engaging element of the day for us with the ability to experiment in remixing our own versions of Stormzy’s ‘Blinded by your Grace’. The Tech Champions soon began to support each other and the group started to bond and relationships develop.

The afternoon session gave us an insight of the power of the Push in a composition setting with much discussion about different genres of music and how the Push would allow ALN learners to access and succeed in the composition and performance elements of Level 2 courses. We left feeling that this project is going to be a game-changer in the world of music education. Well done Musical Futures and massive thank you for choosing us to be involved!”


Excellent workshops ‑ extremely accessible for all abilities and levels."

Claire Armour, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra