New music qualification for youngsters

Cassius Morgan, Florence Kirsten , Ethan Tyler -Tarrant,  Jack Palmer and Rosie Horne with Stringbabies founder Kay Tucker SUS-180123-093107001
Cassius Morgan, Florence Kirsten , Ethan Tyler -Tarrant, Jack Palmer and Rosie Horne with Stringbabies founder Kay Tucker SUS-180123-093107001

A new music qualification has been created for young children by Horsham-based Stringbabies and Victoria College Exams in London.

Over the past 18 months, Stringbabies founder Kay Tucker has been working with staff at Victoria College of Music to create a three-tier assessment to encourage children in their progress as beginners on the violin, viola and cello.

The VCM Stringbabies Award was trialled using Kay’s students and is now available worldwide.

The very first candidates all come from the Horsham area: Rosie Horne, aged eight, from St. Mary’s School, Horsham; Florence Kirsten, aged six, from Southwater Infant Academy; Cassius Morgan, aged six, and Jack Palmer, aged five, both from Trafalgar Community Infant School.

Also featured in the photo is Ethan Tyler-Tarrant, aged three and a half, from Haywards Heath who is set to take the Level 1 qualification this term.

The Stringbabies award provides motivating and achievable goals at beginner level and is teacher assessed.

Candidates are required to play three pieces including their own composition, scales or bowing exercises to self-composed rhythms and simple sight reading and musicianship tests.

Stringbabies creator Kay Tucker said: “It is a tremendous privilege to have one’s own approach to teaching given approval and accreditation by an external exam body; I am very blessed.

“The beginner stage of learning an instrument can be quite lengthy, so I am delighted to have had the support of Victoria College Exams in designing this unique qualification, which I hope will help influence string teaching for the better.”

This is not the only piece of good news regarding Stringbabies. Just before Christmas, one of Kay’s Stringbabies, who started aged three and a half and is now only just aged ten, was awarded a high distinction at Grade 8 on the cello and a place in the National Children’s Orchestra.

Stringbabies is also working in collaboration with the award-winning Brighton-based company, Charanga, who specialise in online music education resources for primary, secondary and instrumental pupils, to create an online version of Stringbabies for violin and cello.

“I am thrilled at this new partnership,” Kay said.

“Especially as Charanga commands such high respect and is delivered to most music services in the UK and many schools and institutions throughout the world.”

The Stringbabies system was developed nearly 14 years ago to help children as young as three years of age learn to read and compose music alongside learning to play a stringed instrument.

The Stringbabies approach involves its own notation system using shapes and toys are regularly used as teaching aids with the very youngest students.

It is now a nationally recognised approach, because of its repute for encouraging strong sight-reading and aural skills and also from having been shortlisted for awards such as the Rhinegold Music Awards for Excellence and BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Community Heroes.

The Stringbabies Awards syllabus and application forms are available online at