Putting music and art at the heart of disadvantaged children’s lives, in partnership with Decca Records.
Since 2019, the Foundling Museum has been working in partnership with Decca Records on an innovative project to bring art and music into the lives of some of Camden’s most disadvantaged children, at the most formative stage of their education and development.
Working with children from nursery to Year 1 and their families from four schools across the borough, the Museum and Decca have been running regular music-making and composing workshops, in response to objects in the Museum and the Foundling Hospital story. Musicians Natasha Zielazinski, Detta Dainford and Paul Rubenstein have been leading 90-minute workshops at the Museum, alongside artist Anne Harild. Taking place two or three times a month during term-time, these interactive sessions introduce children to a range of instruments including cello, flute, oboe, recorder, guitar and saxophone.
Prelude supports learning, builds confidence, promotes wellbeing, and helps children discover joy in life. At the start of programme, most of the children had never heard music played live, nor had they or their parents visited a museum. Most of the children involved face a combination of economic, social and educational disadvantage, and all the children have little or no access to high-quality art and music provision. The programme also provides a high-quality resource for local parents and families, ensuring benefits are shared by the wider community. Prelude embodies Decca’s commitment to artistic excellence, originality and accessibility, and the Museum’s commitment to transforming the lives of vulnerable and marginalised children through the arts.
Thanks to Decca Records, the Museum now has a well-stocked music trolley with a wide range of percussion instruments which children use alongside art-making materials. In addition, recording equipment has enabled the musicians to capture the children’s ideas and compositions, to help the children learn tunes and lyrics, and listen to their finished work.
Introducing parents to their local museum through these sessions breaks down barriers and new families begin to see the benefits of their children accessing art.
The benefits are clear when you witness the children's excellent behaviour and observe their concentration and enthusiasm...as well as the excited expressions of the children. We find that exposing our children to these musical experiences has helped with their attention spans, their speaking and listening skills and their language development. It is also a great way to develop internal motivation and aspirations.
Head of Nursery
The music was great fun. Learning the history of the museum and connecting it through music was a fantastic way of engaging the children.
Learning in lockdown
During lockdown, the Museum continued to provide local children with monthly music workshops and creative activities, designed to support their wellbeing, sustain their developmental progress, and ensure they remembered the museum and their pre-lockdown music compositions.
Using the musician Paul Rubenstein, who the children knew and who was an experienced film-maker, we created films designed for both teachers in the classroom, working with children of key workers, as well as parents at home with their children. The films used works of art in our collection as a starting point for music-making, through close looking and observation, reflection, imagination and re-enactment.
The videos that we received from the Foundling Museum were just brilliant! For the children to have a reminder of the things they loved when coming to nursery really helped them to remember their old routines, and engage in music and art from afar.
Nursery Deputy Manager
Since lockdown, we have been working with our partner schools to look at ways to continue workshops in the new academic year, using a combination of live-streamed workshops from the Museum and artists’ visits into schools.