Pettman DARE Fellow Hannah Greenwood updates us on how she’s juggling her exciting new Community Sing  project with university study, conferences and lots of networking.

“Since my last blog about the first Community Sing event I organised with In Harmony Opera North, my work as a Pettman fellow has really developed and shows no sign of slowing down!

The first Community Sing event has evolved to become the core of my Diploma project with four more Community Sings happening since October.  The Sings are designed as a parental engagement programme that allows parents and carers to be active participants in In Harmony with their children and families.

Managing multiple connected events over a significant time scale has allowed me to do lots of reflecting – each individual event brings up a new learning experience, from transferring the event model into a new school environment, to trying to source a Britney Spears style head-mic! Some of my favourite moments have included the first Community Sing at New Bewerley Community School, which involved the Children’s Centre and was co-delivered by our Early Years Delivery Artist and our Choral Delivery Artist.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing of course, and I’ve learnt that the last day of a school term is not an ideal event time for anyone! But it’s hard not to feel proud when great feedback includes consistent themes of enjoyment, socializing as a family and a community – and having an interest in what students are learning.

Designing a project around parental engagement has involved continuous research around the role of parents/carers within their child’s music education, and gaining an understanding of the different contexts in which the project sits: In Harmony Opera North, the national In Harmony programme, and wider music education. Furthermore, understanding how to evaluate the project is crucial and I’ve researched (and tried out) many ideas around capturing and measuring impact.

Part of my research has also included looking at examples of best practice, which is why being encouraged to visit other organizations and conferences as a fellow is so useful and interesting. In February, I attended the National Family Arts Conference at the Liverpool Everyman, and most recently, Blaire (the New Zealand fellow) and I visited the Youth and Community team at Welsh National Opera. It is always an exciting opportunity to learn what other organisations are doing and learning about WNO’s work with VR technology, how they had taken their ‘Family Concert’ across the world, and their cross-generational dementia work left Blaire and I buzzing with inspiration and enthusiasm.

One of the things I love about being a Pettman DARE Fellow at Opera North is the encouragement I get from everyone around me to try new things and continuously develop myself. Because of this support, I’ve been team-teaching music sessions in the Rainbow Base (the SEND provision) at one of the In Harmony schools, which I’ve loved. I have also assisted with the Mini Magic Flute tour and some events in the Howard Assembly Room, shadowed some Early Years delivery, and managed the Music Medal assessments. It’s so exciting working with the Opera North team, because the breadth and depth of their work means there are always different opportunities to get involved with!

Being a fellow is a continuous balancing act between working on my university assignments and getting as much experience at Opera North as possible. As we move into the Summer, there’s still lots going on, including In Harmony Summer sharing events, more Community Sings and pulling my parent engagement project together. The only way to go is full steam ahead!”

Pettman DARE Fellowships are made possible through the generosity of philanthropist Mrs Maureen Pettman.

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