Ashbridge Independent School & Nursery adds Outdoor Musical Instruments to Enhance Lessons and Play

Ashbridge Independent School and Nursery, based in Preston, Lancashire, UK, has taken an innovative approach to teaching by installing a variety of outdoor musical instruments on its grounds.

With an ethos based on learning in the great outdoors, pupils will now be creating music, both during play and lesson time. The forest school will see pupils between 0-11 years old take music lessons using the outdoor instruments and enjoy them with peers during recreation.

Many pupils are keen musicians, and the school has a dedicated music teacher; however, they had no way of bringing music to their outdoor surroundings until they recently installed a range of instruments from Percussion Play. These include the Duo, Babel drum, Rainbow Sambas, Cavatina, Tubular Bells, Alto Diatonic Freechimes, and Diatonic Tembos.

Karen Mehta, Headteacher/Principal at the school, comments on the new additions to the school playground “Outdoor learning is a huge part of the school. We believe there is no better place to educate and excite our pupils than within our beautiful grounds. The refurbishment of our adventure play area now includes a range of wonderful outdoor musical instruments so that our pupils can get creative and be adventurous!”

The installation was completed just ahead of the Jubilee last month, meaning that the new adventure and music area is appropriately called the 'Jubilee Park' to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Being exposed to music from a young age, particularly within a school or nursery setting, has been proven to encourage teamwork, self-confidence, empathy, improved communication skills and intellectual curiosity, and individuals who have had the opportunity to develop these skills and behaviors in early life therefore often turn out to be happier, healthier and higher-achieving adults than those who do not. For these reasons, it would seem fair to say that encouraging music education programs in schools and providing young children with access to musical instruments would have far-reaching benefits for the individual and society as a whole.

Performing a piece in front of an audience also teaches young people to take risks and conquer their fears, which can help them become more successful later in life. Anxiety frequently occurs in life and can be positive if an individual learns how to deal with these feelings constructively. Risk-taking is essential for self-development, and it has been proven that learning to take risks in a safe environment such as within a musical performance, can help prevent future risky behavioral choices.

Kare Mehta continues, “Having the large instruments outside enables the children to be creative and work together freely outside the formal music lessons to make music and sounds. Older pupils can work with the younger ones. We can use the instruments in science to really experience vibrations and how sound travels. They can be used for Drama/Dance and as a stimulus or accompaniment to creative writing. Playing the instruments can develop fine motor skills and promotes well-being, and children of all ages can use them. We can also look at how they are made and how the sound is created to support a DT project.”