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In what has been a challenging time for everyone, we’ve been lifted by some incredible personal stories, as well as the amount of high-quality music-making going on nationwide.

Charanga’s VIP Studio Sessions is an award-winning online music programme for secondary schools and community organisations. The platform enables young people to take part in regular music-making activities in the classroom or as part of their home learning. It gives them 24/7 access to an online music studio, expert tutorials, and more.

Throughout the pandemic, VIP has provided resources and training to teachers and workshop leaders, helping them to deliver hybrid, blended and home-based music lessons. We talked to some of our users about their experiences of using our platform.

Music at All Hallows and Hodgson Schools During the Pandemic

Francis Ajiteru is a music teacher from All Hallows and Hodgson Schools

Francis Ajiteru is a music teacher from All Hallows and Hodgson Schools in Lancashire whose licences are funded by Lancashire Music Hub.

‘Although we had anticipated the likelihood of the lockdown coming for some time, I hadn’t particularly prepared for it. I’d thought about what my students could do at home of course, but hadn’t put anything in place before our school closed.

‘I try to keep all music learning practical because that’s what I feel a music lesson should be all about. We play instruments, sing and compose. I deliver the necessary music theory. But when it comes to teaching music online, it doesn’t only have to be about that.

‘I have been using VIP Studio Sessions quite successfully with my classes for a few years now. I introduce it to my students, and give them all the instructions and support as required. I decided to take that route during the lockdown; to see whether they could achieve the same or similar results when I wasn’t available face-to-face, if they ran into a problem.

Hip Hop Project with Lyric Writing

‘I decided to start with Hip Hop as it incorporates making a track using virtual instruments and audio loops, with writing lyrics. I split the nine videos provided into smaller assignments and wrote basic instructions, outlining what I wanted the students to do in general – while also referring them to the tutorial support VIP offers.

‘As I work in a few different schools, I shared my instructions with them via Showbie and Google Classroom. I added the necessary links to Charanga and attached my spreadsheet with students’ usernames and passwords, which any teacher can generate at any time.

‘I started uploading assignments on a weekly basis before allowing my students to progress with their work at their own pace.

The Results?

‘Most of them had a great start. They’d followed my instructions, but hadn’t got to the end. Some students hadn’t touched the work at all, as expected. But others had managed to do everything, including writing and recording their lyrics into their session, adding doubles and basic sound editing.

‘What does this tell me? Well, even if I interfere less with my students’ work, I can still get satisfying results. VIP kept them working and learning independently. And yes, those who lag behind will get pushed more to get on with their work while at school, but the majority of students can handle it easily.

How VIP Supports my Teaching

‘Thanks to its structure and ease of use, VIP makes it possible to keep music-making up to date with current trends. My students are engaged and they can take ownership of their work. Their tracks can be turned into mp3 files and played whenever and wherever they please.

‘There are, of course, other online platforms out there which I have looked at to support my teaching, but VIP is the right one for me. It’s purpose-built for education and I can log in and see a student’s progress without seeing them at school. I can give them extra guidance if needed using the school’s communication channels. Similarly, they can contact me as and when needed. It’s great.

‘So, if you haven’t tried it, give VIP a go and see what it can do for you. Try writing a Hip Hop track for your students to begin with! Inspire and let them be creative.’

Supporting Y10 Composition Work

Setting engaging, meaningful and relevant work during the pandemic can be difficult, particularly for a practical subject like music – as Jamie Berry, a music teacher from Co-op Academy Priesthorpe, Leeds, who are funded by ArtForms, explains.

‘We started using VIP for our Y10s so that they could create music for their RSL compositional unit when working at home, and with minimal equipment required!

‘Some of the pieces they created were amazing. The platform’s tutorials allowed all students to get creative straight away and stopped the infamous “writer’s block”.

‘It’s quite incredible really, when you listen back to what they’ve achieved. They have learnt to produce, arrange, compose and perform music – all in one go.

‘I’ve become a huge fan of VIP and the resources it has given us. It’s been a complete game changer for us, and an absolute lifesaver during lockdown.’ The work accomplished at Co-op Academy Priesthorpe is funded by ArtForms the arts and music service within Leeds City Council.

If you would like to try out VIP for 30 days – complete with access for up to 30 students –  register for a complimentary, no obligation trial. To ensure you get the most out of your trial, you’ll be able to sign up for our free introductory webinars too. Simply look out for an invitation once your trial has started. If you have any other questions please email us at vip@charanga.com.