Background information to The Sage Gateshead and our Access to Excellence
a) The Sage Gateshead is a path-finding initiative. Our artistic programme is
integrated in ways that are unique in the UK, placing equal weight on learning,
participation and performance as tools for the delivery of our mission (music),
and seeking always to connect the learning, participation and performance
elements of our work.
b) We combine the key characteristics of international venue, education provider,
community music organisation, commissioner of new work and laboratory for
new pedagogies. Our work is regionally rooted, locally distinctive and
c) The success of our work over the last five years bears out the effectiveness of
this approach, which recognises no contradiction between access and
d) The Sage Gateshead has been designed, organisationally and architecturally, to
be able to play a significant role in the current national transformation of music
education, capitalising on:
• our strongly connected, diverse, pioneering Learning and Participation
programme across five counties (Tyneside, Durham, Northumberland, Tees
• our proven commitment to programming and presenting all musics of
• our landmark Norman Foster building itself designed to bring seamlessly
together the worlds of learning and performance.
e) The Sage Gateshead is making a distinctive, dynamic contribution to the national
music education debate, reflecting:
• five years of leadership unique in its bringing together of the cultural and
• a holistic pedagogic philosophy, which is exactly mirrored in our
organisational structure and programming;
• an integrated approach to young people’s musical development, grounded
within broad, secure alliances across all relevant sectors.
f) We have established and energised extensive local, regional and national
partnerships during the first five years of our work. Our work on this second stage
of our programme will harness the energy of those relationships in common
purpose, significantly adding to the value of all our joint investments.
g) We are a mature and significant player in our sector, having a clear history of
commitment to the philosophies of practice now emerging as national models.
We are proud that our work has led to other organisations and networks taking
up and developing some of the key principles we have been pioneering since
i) Focus on learner(s) – putting young people first
ii) Focus on the importance of a joined up landscape of musical opportunities,
offering clear, multi-entry, adaptable progression routes for all children and
iii) Young people’s participation in decision making – making a clear, proven
commitment to young people as leaders and choice-makers of their own
iv) Workforce development using fitness-for-purpose models - bringing together
historically separated pedagogies and uniting ‘community musicians’ and
‘music educators’ in equal exchange and dialogue for the well being of
v) Equity of all musics
vi) Focus on KS 2 - 3 transition opportunities through music, and for music
vii) Family learning with the under 5s through music, and for music
viii) Focus on the voice as central to musical development.
h) The diverse financial framework we have established to support our programme
ensures that we build a broad base of stakeholder interest and support. This
richness of partnership has been noted as a strength of our approach to building
i) The five aims of the Music Manifesto and the aims and objectives of The Sage
Gateshead’s Learning and Participation programme are strongly aligned and
See Hitting the Right Notes – Learning and Participation at The Sage Gateshead, DEMOS/DfES/Paul Hamlyn
Foundation, July 2005
Creative Transitions Phase 1 - part of The Sage Gateshead Access to Excellence
The Creative Transitions Project worked with primary and secondary schools across
Newcastle, Darlington and Redcar between March 2006 and June 2008, collaborating
with school staff and local Music Services to deliver a range of participatory music
making activities both within and outside of school settings.
Key Project Findings
• The opportunities provided by the Creative Transitions project encouraged young
people’s creativity and music learning in a variety of ways, leading many previously
disengaged primary- and secondary-aged pupils to re-engage with music learning.
• Following their participation in project activities, young people spoke of their newly
developed enthusiasm for, and confidence in music making and there were clear
indications that the less formal activities provided at primary schools transferred
into an increased appetite for further musical engagement at secondary schools.
• In line with the findings from previous studies (O’Neill 2002; Hargreaves and
Marshall 2003), young peoples’ engagement with and level of motivation toward
their music making depended to a substantial extent on the level of ownership they
had over it.
• The project facilitated a cross-curricula approach to musical and creative activity,
both encouraging the incorporation of broader, ongoing learning into project
activities as well as encouraging the use of music across the curriculum.
• The work of ‘Young Leaders’ and young peer-leaders proved a particularly
effective method of ‘role-modelling’ music making for younger, musically
• Peer leadership exchanges were also highly valued for the way they eased less
confident young people into what were perceived as ‘safe’ (in terms of confidence)
• The activities provided were particularly effective in engaging those previously
disengaged from music learning.
• The project demonstrated a number of ways in which musical activity could be
valuable in helping ease primary pupils’ transition to secondary school,
successfully building relationships both vertically (primary-secondary) and
horizontally (between primary schools).
• Opportunities for young people to participate in out-of-school musical groups
impacted positively on their continued involvement in musical activities across the
transition from primary to secondary school.
• School staff reported ways in which they had developed their own skills and
confidence in facilitating young people’s musical and more broadly creative activity.
This was especially marked where staff had shown the greatest willingness to
actively engage with projects and where support from schools was strongest.
• Teachers have been able to see and appreciate the positive effects of musical
engagement upon their pupils, especially those who were behaviourally
problematic. School staff reported a variety of ways in which their preconceptions
towards certain pupils’ abilities and motivation had been upturned following their
positive participation in project activities. Some staff also reported how they had
developed insights into novel ways of tapping into young people’s enthusiasm for
• Staff recognised the particular value of the participatory musical activities facilitated
for encouraging pupils to work together in teams and build valuable social skills.
• Both teachers and Heads noted ways in which the project had impacted positively
at the whole-school level, by providing opportunities for performance, celebration
and engagement with the broader community.
• In some of the schools in which percussion-based sessions took place, project
musicians looked to focus on components of basic literacy and numeracy through
incorporating counting and group calls into sessions. Teachers commented how
this provided a great way of engaging children, especially those with poor
numeracy and literacy skills, in fun activities that also introduced key learning
Project Leaders and Musicians
• Recognising the potential for their work to vary, in its style and emphasis, from
teachers’ own practice, project musicians engaged in a productive dialogue with
school staff to accommodate school aims.
• Project Leaders and musicians gained an appreciation of how their practice could
best function within school settings.
• New models of classroom music delivery were developed throughout the course of
the project as project musicians more effectively aligned their practices with
• Specifically catering activity delivery, managing expectations and maintaining clear
and regular communication have emerged as key means through which trust can
be established between project musicians and schools.
• The project provided some opportunities for Music Services and The Sage
Gateshead staff to work side by side in delivering musical activities within schools
and to plan complimentary delivery.
• The fruitful links established between local authority Arts Teams, Music Services
and other stakeholder groups will be maintained throughout The Sage
Gateshead’s ongoing music provision in Newcastle, Darlington and Redcar.
(Extract from Creative Transitions Report - Dr Mark Rimmer)
The presentation will also represent our work in the second phase of this project
• Music Learning Teams (cross service and sector collaborative delivery
• Youth Leadership
• Creative Transitions models