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HMS Music Director

Ben Stevens

Leadership Team for Herts Music Service

Lisa Quinlan-Rahman
Ben Stevens
Vicki Roberts
Michael Mabbitt
Katherine Wolfenden
Deena Day
Angela Gilby
Rebecca Kelly
Nick Denham


(formerly known as WIDER OPPORTUNITIES....) established teaching initiative for KS2.

First Access Handbook - download HERE

First Access - The first three years - for info click HERE

First Access - Continuing after three years - for info click HERE

Useful First Access Resources for teachers click HERE

  • Pupils from a whole year group learn music through singing, musical games and learning to play an instrument taught by specialist instrumental teachers working alongside school staff. In some cases the children learn as a whole class, in others they may learn in large groups.
  • Every child gets the chance to have firsthand experience of live music, group singing, ensemble playing, composing or improvising and performance.
  • Children gain a real insight into the world of music, working with a professional musician, and for some this may be the start of a life-long hobby. They learn that it can be fun, that it requires time and effort, discipline and team-work, and that, as well as being rewarding in itself, it can give pleasure to others.
  • Some schools offer extension classes beyond the initial year while in all there will be children who wish to continue with music lessons. This may be on the FIRST ACCESS instrument or on another or through vocal work.
  • A wide range of instruments are currently used in different schools, for example instruments from the string, brass and woodwind families as well as African drums, ukulele, guitar and steel pans. Music Service Area Heads discuss options with school staff and agree the best instruments for individual schools. Please contact your Area Head if you wish to find out more.
  • Hertfordshire Music Service publish a First Access Handbook which is available online.

Performance Opportunities

Performance is a natural outcome for a FIRST ACCESS programme when the music and learning that has taken place can be celebrated. All children should be given the opportunity to take part. Performances may take several forms:-

  • an assembly/ class concert
  • part of a school concert
  • part of a joint schools’ celebration event
  • playing for an event such as a school fair
  • a podcast or recording a CD
  • an open lesson

This year links have been made with secondary schools in some areas and FIRST ACCESS classes have met for a morning at a secondary school to play to each other, listen to music from some of the secondary school students and perform together. Feedback from those taking part has been very positive.

“It was absolutely great seeing so many budding musicians - they were brilliant” (secondary school teacher)
“We enjoyed it. Thank you for organising it. It was great!”
(primary head teacher)
“The children get a really good experience.
I know the teacher who was with me thought it was very good.”
(music service teacher).
“I think the music is really good.” (child).

Each Perform! Event used the same material published by Trinity College and each was unique because of the varying combinations of musicians and the different talents and skills they brought to the ensemble. If you are interested in taking part in something like this, contact



FIRST ACCESS in Music has been a huge success at Ashfield. We are now in our third year. The sound of the djembe resonates around the school; and when our year 6 children are combining their complex rhythms the whole hall vibrates and it makes your skin tingle. Our children love it – it’s the highlight of their week. Our parents so enjoy the performances and open lessons. One parent said, “Music lessons are often seen as elitist, but this is truly inclusive”. And it is. Our children with concentration difficulties learn to concentrate; those with confidence issues become much more self assured; those who excel academically suddenly find that they are learning something so completely new that they might be “a bit rubbish” at first (this can be an alarming novelty for some)–but they learn perseverance and to laugh at themselves. It’s fantastic teamwork.

Believe it or not, it also improves reading and spelling! It’s true – all our children with significant Special Needs who have done FIRST ACCESS can segment words into syllables and use this in their reading and spelling.

"It is also incredibly therapeutic –for pupils and staff." Carolyn Dalziel, Headteacher