Sound and Well in Hastings and St Leonards

This early years music project was initiated by Hastings and St Leonards Children’s Centres and funded through Youth Music’s Open programme. Four early years settings worked with a practitioner and a music leader trainee.

Activity focused on building a variety of music skills appropriate for Early Years settings including: singing, playing instruments (including unusual ethnic instruments), building basic skills in rhythm, dynamics, tempo and pitch and group skills. An important focus of the activities was a child-centred creativity – and allowing the flexibility to go with the flow of children’s own spontaneous ideas.

Who was involved

  • Children and Early Years Practitioners at Rainbow Nursery, Maplehurst Nursery and Athelstan Nursery (all in East Hastings) and Greenway Nursery (in the town centre)
  • Creative practitioners: Kate Murdoch, Sue Bull (trainee)
  • Others: Hastings and St Leonards Children’s Centres, Culture Shift (evaluation)


How does music-making impact on the wellbeing of young children?


  • To build skills and enjoyment of music making for young children, practitioners and parents in the local area
  • To explore music as vehicle to promote Personal, Social and Emotional Development, as outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • To offer professional development opportunities for the local Early Years practitioners


The project explored music making as a vehicle to promote wellbeing through the choice of songs, incorporating a relaxation session and using tools such as the Leuven Wellbeing and Involvement scale to reflect on children’s participation in the sessions. Each setting was invited to plan for engaging parents in the project.

Opportunities were created to share learning and skills in each setting through dedicated CPD sessions.

Settings took an active role in reflecting on the learning from the programme. Senior nursery staff attended a planning, interim and final review session with the project team. Early years practitioners reviewed each session with Kate and Sue and tracked children’s wellbeing and music making skills as part of the wider evaluation process.

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Culture Shift worked with the project team on evaluation, devising a framework of planning meetings, reflective practice and evaluation tools to help ensure the best possible legacy of the project.

A report of the evaluation findings was launched by Culture Shift in partnership with the project team on Wednesday 26 September at the Hastings Centre.  To access the full report click here.