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James Dickinson - Head of Hertfordshire Music Service

FIRST ACCESS (formerly Wider Opps)

Songs for Upper KS2

A collection of songs for Upper Key Stage 2 compiled by Primary Music Consultants for use in First Access teaching - HERE

First Access Handbook for staff

Click HERE

Arrangements with schools & CPD payment

In a year of FIRST ACCESS, the 33 weeks in schools should be made up of 1x initial meeting/planning with school staff  and 32 x lessons,  2 of which may be performances or other work required by school. You should aim for a balanced division of lessons across the three terms. All additional time for PPA or extra performance events should be recorded as directed time. Please contact me if you have not got an initial planning meeting agenda.

FIRST ACCESS CPD comes out of your CPD entitlement. You can only be paid for the number of hours allocated according to your contracted weekly teaching hours. Please speak to your Area Head or Alison Pinder if you have any queries about this. Of course you are most welcome to attend extra sessions if you are interested in them and might find them helpful and it is always good to meet with colleagues to share experiences, learn from each other and feel part of a team.

Progression from First Access

It is great to be able to report that one of the newest members of the violin section of the North Herts Youth Orchestra started playing through a FIRST ACCESS Class at Trotts Hill School, Stevenage. She went on to group lessons in Years 5 and 6 and then continued to have lessons when she moved up to secondary school.

Several children have also gone on to pass their first music exams and are active in ensembles in their schools and Music Centres. There is a new string group meeting at Mid Herts run by Maria Prowse specifically for children who have played in FIRST ACCESS classes and wish to continue in an ensemble.

First Performances for Large Groups of Beginners

Notes from the Music Service CPD session on Performance Skills

What outcome do you want for the performers (children)?
e.g.increased self esteem, show what they can do, cope with demands asked of them, a musical performance

What outcome do you want for the audience (other children/ teachers/ parents/ strangers)?
e.g. to be impressed, to be pleased, to enjoy the music, to support their children and wish to go on doing so

What do you want to achieve?
e.g. a performance to be proud of that gives the opportunity for all of the above.


  1. Pick the right material – consider difficulty and genre - not too difficult, think what will appeal to audience and get good response for final piece
  2. People – be perceptive and sensitive about children’s strengths, weaknesses and feeling
  3. Practise! – make sure adequate time allowed
  4. Planning and organisation –  
  5. Promote good habits and sense of occasion –  
  6. Prepare the children well to encourage confidence -
  7. Praise – during and after the performance –
  •    they need to feel supported and that you are in control
  •    they need to know the performance material, what is expected of them and what is going on
  •    they need to feel as secure as possible – you must appear calm!

Use body language and eye contact.

(You may have to educate the audience in how to appreciate what the children have achieved!)