3 Ways to Encourage Online Music Participation

10 June 2020

Newham Music is now running live instrumental lessons, WCET and extra-curricular projects in 40 schools and counting!

Our webinars and follow-up videos make practical music activities accessible to whole year groups or even whole key stages at a time, but how do we get our students to participate in live online sessions?

We asked Nathaniel Dye at Nelson Primary School, whose busy Year 4 WCET class was visited by Mayor of Newham Rokshana Fiaz on Monday, how he has been getting students online.

1. Keep it quick. As all educators quickly realised at the beginning of lockdown, internet access is a barrier for many students at home right now. Even if they are connected, students are likely sharing devices, private space, and bandwidth with siblings and family members. We have had success by planning 30-45 minute sessions, once a week which most students are able to make happen.

2. Engage class teachers to spread the word and take part! My colleagues have been more than happy to send more emails to children and remind parents about the webinars in their regular phone calls. They’ve loved being on screen and saying hello to their classes, and the children are surprised when their teachers pop into a music session! Special guest appearances by our most supportive headteacher and, most recently, the mayor have added an extra sense of importance that has really encouraged children to turn up week on week.

3. Make friends with your admin team.  Most of our families rely primarily on home learning packs and constant communication with class teachers. Plan for multiple email reminders with the session details sent to parents well in advance of the webinar. I’ve had to call in many a favour to ensure these get sent out via our Parent Mail system. Bribes and positive reinforcement by way of chocolate have not gone unnoticed.


The bottom line is, don’t give up. It’s likely there will be a lot more time invested compared to the length of your lessons right now, but the fun, social aspects of live music sessions have proven to be so beneficial to the wellbeing of our pupils throughout lockdown.

Jack Petchey FoundationNational Foundation For Youth MusicArts Council England
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