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Double nomination for Surrey Arts at Music & Drama Education Awards 2021

Surrey Arts are delighted to be shortlisted for not one but two national awards at the Music & Drama Education Awards 2021. The Music & Drama Education Awards celebrate the extraordinary contribution made by professionals, companies, charities, schools and other organisations to the lives of others through the medium of music and drama.

Head of Service Sarah Lee says ‘We are hugely proud to be shortlisted for two awards! We have an amazing inclusion team who have worked really hard to support young people during these challenging times. We are passionate about the impact music can have on young people’s lives and we are thrilled that our commitment has been recognised through this nomination’

Surrey Arts have been shortlisted in the category for Outstanding Musical Initiative with the Surrey Arts Online Inclusion Programme and the UP! Orchestra shortlisted in the Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama) category for their Music of Black Origin Programme.

Jim Pinchen UP! Orchestra Programme Lead said ‘We know that music of Black origin continues to inspire our children and young people and it’s been a privilege to explore the roots of some of these genres with out talented participants. We were delighted that our programme has been recognised and selected by the judging panel and we look forward to sharing our learning with colleagues and children and young people across our diverse county in the future. 

The organisers write: “The Surrey Arts Online Inclusion Programme has been shortlisted in the category Outstanding Musical Initiative and the UP! Orchestra for their Music of Black Origin Programme has been shortlisted in the category Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama).  This is a tremendous achievement against extremely tough competition this year, congratulations! 

The awards will be premiered live at 6.00pm on the 24th March 2021 at and Facebook Live.”

UPDATED DATES Join the Royal Opera House for Create and Sing, Surrey Music Hub 2021

Due to the current lockdown some of the online training dates for Create and Sing have been changed.

Join the Royal Opera House for a two-part virtual CPD training course exploring our Create and Sing creative learning programme (KS1-KS3). Our specialist ROH drama and music practitioners introduce the programme, pedagogy and resources and guide teachers through effective approaches to supporting students’ creative learning by exploring opera.

Create and Sing is an innovative drama and singing programme supporting young people’s creative learning and giving voice to their creativity. Our nationally and freely available teacher training and resources engage schools in a creative process leading towards creating opera in the classroom. Teachers are not required to have specialist music training as our free certified training and unique online resources help guide them through the programme every step of the way.

Watch our video here to hear what teachers say about the programme.

Create and Sing’s Covid-19 adaptations

Due to the current lockdown, the Royal Opera House have had to revise the CPD schedule, moving dates to the end of this term and the start of next. Please note if you had previously booked onto a CPD the dates may have changed (more details below). Only one Surrey date has changed, but the online Surrey sessions will also be opened up to other schools nationally.

Create and Sing has adapted this year, with training taking place through virtual twilight sessions and schools projects starting in the summer or beyond. Create and Sing virtual training brings teachers together to explore, learn, share and have some fun during this difficult time of separation.

With many schools facing curriculum time pressures but also looking for a special, engaging and rewarding project for the summer, the training focuses on our Explorer (5-week lesson plan) schemes of work. These lead teachers and students through creative learning programmes with a range of curriculum links. Teachers do not need to commit to running a school project this summer to attend the training; all are welcome.

To Register…

Create and Sing works with partner organisations to bring teachers in local areas together for training. Where possible we ask teachers book on to their area training dates, but if you are unable to make these, there are also nationally open dates below. Places are free, booked via Eventbrite and allocated on a first come first served basis:

Surrey Music Hub dates

Create and Sing Carmen part 1

18/03/2021 16:30 – 18:30

Create and Sing Carmen part 2

21/04/2021 16:30 – 18:30

National training dates

Create and Sing Hansel & Gretel part 1

17/03/2021 16:00-18:00

Create and Sing Hansel & Gretel part 2

29/03/2021 16:00-18:00

Create and Sing Carmen part 1

18/03/2021 16:30-18:30

Create and Sing Carmen part 2

21/04/2021 16:30-18:30

Surrey Arts lessons moved online during lockdown

A new year and another lockdown! Before the end of last term, the Surrey Arts team had been working really hard programming in lessons but the latest lockdown has meant many lessons due to take place in schools will now be changed. Fortunately the online learning platform Surrey Arts introduced in April last year is available and there are many advantages to continuing to learn in this way.

Here are some of the reasons why the Surrey Arts online teaching can be really beneficial:

  • Musical activity and learning is a big boost for well-being, especially during the winter months
  • By moving online, your child’s musical learning won’t be interrupted, so they will continue to progress
  • Our teachers now have a lot of experience teaching online and can help children and parents/ carers with any concerns and we also offer a technical support phone line for parents/carers experiencing technical difficulties
  • Many students and parents/ carers have told us that the online lessons have helped them to become better players and more secure in their own learning
  • Music lessons are a great brain break for children during a day of school work
  • Parents/ carers have told us that they enjoy being able to hear what their children are doing in their music lessons
  • Children enjoy seeing their teacher online. In paired lessons they also get a chance to see their friends.

Surrey Arts have received many positive comments from parents who have seen the benefits of having online lessons during the lockdowns:

‘The online lessons have helped give structure to our weeks and have meant that the children have continued to make progress with their music. Having a weekly lesson has meant that they have continued to practise – it would be too easy for them to just drift away from practising if there had been no lessons.’

‘It has been brilliant to continue lessons during the “lockdown”, and my child has progressed as a result. Practicing without the incentive of lessons was hard so it was great to do zoom lessons.’

There are also many links to Surrey Arts online teaching and introduction to instruments on the Surrey Music Hub website Online Learning – Surrey Music Hub

Join Surrey Arts and the Royal Opera House for Create and Sing 2021

Create and Sing 2021In Spring 2021, Surrey Arts will join forces with the Royal Opera House to bring a two-part twilight CPD training programme exploring the ROH Create and Sing Carmen scheme of work (KS1-KS3). Specialist ROH drama and music practitioners will introduce the programme, pedagogy and resources before guiding teachers through effective approaches to supporting students’ creative learning by exploring opera.

Create and Sing is an innovative drama and singing programme supporting young people’s creative learning and giving voice to their creativity. The nationally and freely available teacher training and resources engage schools in a creative process leading towards creating opera in the classroom. Watch the summary video here.

Teachers are not required to have specialist music training as the free certified training and unique online resources help guide them through the programme every step of the way.

Create and Sing’s Covid-19 adaptations

Create and Sing has adapted this year, with training taking place through virtual twilight sessions in the Spring term and we encourage schools to plan to begin their projects in the summer or beyond.

For schools facing curriculum time pressures, we are recommending the Explorer (5-week lesson plan) schemes of work, with an emphasis on the quality and not quantity of creative work being produced. The practitioners will explore with teachers approaches to singing and drama activity within Covid-guidelines, however, teachers must shape their projects to fit their individual school risk assessments. 

To Register…

Go to the Eventbrite pages below to register your free place. Please note this is a two-part virtual training course delivered across two twilight sessions. Attendees need to register for both the events below. There is more information about the virtual training is given on the Eventbrite pages. We also ask that you nominate a ‘deputy attendee‘ who will stand in for you in case you are unable to make the training.

Part 1: 18th March, 4-6pm: 

Part 2: 22nd April, 4-6pm: 

If you have any questions, please get in touch via and​we look forward to welcoming you to the programme.

Surrey Arts and Stringbabies celebrate 10 year partnership

Surrey Arts and Stringbabies are celebrating 10 years of delivering string music lessons to our youngest musicians within Surrey. From humble beginnings starting with a pilot scheme involving a key stage 1 school class, Stringbabies has grown and evolved and Surrey Arts now has a dedicated team of trained specialist Stringbabies teachers delivering to key stage 1 children within schools across the county.

Stringbabies founder Kay Tucker said ‘Surrey Arts became the first Music Service in the UK to deliver Stringbabies and over the intervening years it has had a major part to play in helping the programme to develop and improve (for which I am very grateful!).’

This holistic approach to string teaching has been a huge success in getting younger pupils to take up all string instruments. With its clear and gentle approach to rhythm, pitch and musicianship it has produced a really firm foundation in all areas of music. It was very clear at the start that students had a better understanding and musical awareness, enabling them to develop and become confident players. Many of the original students are enjoying playing within Surrey Arts ensembles and have become fine players.

Head of Service Sarah Lee said: ‘It is through strong partnerships that we can expand our delivery to providing opportunities for young people to learn. Stringbabies has provided a strong platform for young musicians and we look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.’

Amazing music opportunity for young people (aged 16 – 21)

Big Leaf Foundation have an amazing writing and recording opportunity for young people aged 16 – 21 starting on Saturday 5 December. Big Leaf Foundation (BLF), a partner of Surrey Arts, is a local charity which works to support those displaced young people (refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking and modern slavery) who have been placed in Surrey to find their feet in resettlement. They do this by running a varied programme of different activities and opportunities, all of which are designed to support education and employability progression and enhance young people’s chances of securing a positive future here. These young people have many barriers to overcome in the UK, and social isolation is one of the biggest. COVID has had a huge impact on these young people, as they have been even more isolated than before, especially in Guildford.

BLF have just received funding for a new music project in partnership with Surrey Arts to bring young people from both displaced and local communities together. 

In brief, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, we are thrilled to announce the opportunity for displaced young people to come together with host community peers to work alongside some well-known professionals in writing and recording a song to be released at the beginning of 2021.  BLF will be working (remotely) with tutors from Surrey Arts , before a final recording session in the studio in December.  We also have Chesney Hawkes on board as our executive producer and the hiphop/drill and grime artist and DJ Chimpo on board to talk about life in the industry and lead a workshop on beats with those who want to do it.  We see this as a pilot project to extend similar cross-cultural musical and performance arts opportunities in Surrey from 2021 and will be welcoming all genres of music in all languages.

Full details can be found on the BLF website, including details of COVID safe arrangements. BLF also have risk assessments and safeguarding policies for this project available on request. 

If you know a young person who would be interested in being involved and would be available on the next three Saturday afternoons (2pm – 4pm) and for a recording day at ACM in January, (COVID rules permitting) please do contact BLF as soon as possible. We only have limited places and it would be a particularly useful opportunity, we think, for anyone with an interest in migration issues, community cohesion and world music styles.

Surrey Arts Impact Report 2019 – 2020

2019 to 2020 was a vibrant year as Surrey Arts continued to provide engaging, creative and inspiring cultural services across the county for our residents. Services delivered through Surrey Arts include Music activities, Surrey Arts Wardrobe Hire, Visual Arts events and Instrument Hire.  

Many new and exciting projects have evolved this year and Surrey Arts ongoing annual events have continued to grow in numbers. Some of the highlights this year include:

  • Our I Speak Music group has grown, both locally and internationally, achieving more ambitious and inspiring projects. One of the highlights at the beginning of the year was their superb festive single entitled “Whatever You Believe”. This was sung, performed and recorded by a mix of refugees, young people from the ACM and local community members, a collaboration of more than 80 people.
  • The Horley Project, established in 2018 to increase instrumental learning in schools in the area, entered into its second year, with many new members joining the project, further expanding the newly formed Horley Orchestra.
  • Just So Singers celebrated their 25th Anniversary in June 2019
  • UP! Orchestra received a boost from external funding as well as welcoming many new-comers to the Saturday Music Zone to meet, share and play music together.
  • A number of successful events and workshops, both old and new, reached sell out numbers including Piano Exam Performance; Summer Singing; Drum Line! Brass Masterclass; Orchestra Taster Day and DJ Music Production Workshops, as well as many more. 
  • The Primary Schools Music Festivals held events at venues across Surrey with over 2500 children participating.
  • Surrey Artists’ Open Studios 2019 was exceptional this year with over 297 artists participating, selling a combined worth of over £304k in artwork.

To learn more about the successes from the past year, please read the full Surrey Arts 2019-2020 Impact Report here.


Image to represent Imagine Imagine song release

Imagine:Imagine presents ‘Walk With Me’. A new music video started in Surrey, now international featuring over 120 performers from around the globe singing in solidarity with diverse and displaced communities everywhere.   

Premiering on International Day of Peace, Monday 21st September.

Surrey Arts is partnering with Together Productions and IOM UK (International Organization for Migration), joining the common mission to unite people from different backgrounds, combat xenophobia and showcase new music celebrating the strength and resilience of people from diverse communities.  

During the summer lockdown members of Surrey Arts’ I Speak Music Orchestra wrote a song to say thank you and to recognize the sacrifice and diversity of our front-line services. During UK’s Refugee Week in June 2020, Surrey Arts and Together Productions took that song and launched an online global music video project, with support from IOM UK. “The video holds a strong message of unity – says I Speak Music’s Raghad Haddad – “as it has a combination of lyrics, music, and images of the real people that are behind the project, and their many countries of origin and languages. There is a combination of Middle Eastern and Western tunes that make the artistic results of the project very special”.  

For UK-based Raghad Haddad, the project also offered the opportunity for her to collaborate again with her brother, Bassel Haddad, a musician in Syria who works on singing projects with homeless children through the Sada Choir they founded together back in 2013. Bassel describes that “being able to bring together the homeless children with other children was inspiring, because I witnessed them sharing this experience with joy, regardless of the fact that they were coming from very different walks of life.” 

Over 120 performers from the UK, Egypt, Syria, Iran, South Africa, El Salvador, Mexico, Jordan, Afghanistan, France, Gaza, US, Germany and Belgium sent in their contributions.Dabu (René Edenilson Rivas Aparicio), a rapper from El Salvador who works to use music to empower vulnerable people, says “the opportunity to collaborate on this project has really lifted my spirit up. It made me realise that I had my microphone and I could still use it to communicate and express myself… I love working with people from all over the world and contributing to international projects such as the Imagine:Imagine project.” 

Sue Wills, Acting Assistant Director Culture, Libraries & Registration at Surrey County Council said “Surrey County Council is proud to be part of the Imagine:Imagine project and I am delighted to see the contribution of Surrey’s residents at the heart of a song that has gone on to inspire so many across the globe.  

Through this film we meet participants who have been displaced as well as those who work relentlessly in their own communities to support those living in difficult circumstances. All of them united in a message of solidarity and gratitude to those who have travelled or stayed to enrich the community in which they call home.”  

The global submissions have been edited into a final music video by Academy and Emmy Award nominated producer Leslie Knott and acclaimed director, writer and producer Ben Gregor. The film shows the power of music to emphasize all we have in common, highlights the beauty of diversity, and honours the extraordinary contributions of displaced and migrant communities to our world. Masoud Danyiali , a percussionist from Iran, says “the fact that artists were joining in the project from different parts of the world, made me feel that we are part of the same community, and that through music we could raise our voices together. This project really shows that music has no borders. I strongly believe that music is the most powerful tool you can use to communicate.” The video will be premiered alongside an amazing line up of international performers in a concert hosted by soprano Nadine Benjamin on Youtube Premiere on the International Day of PeaceMonday 21st September, at 5pm BST (UK time). We’d love you to join us!  

Register for a free concert ticket here

Further Information

About IOM UK

“We welcome the commitment of this network of artists and people from all over the world who are using their talent to build a more peaceful and welcoming society for displaced and migrant communities” says Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission. 

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. We work to support safer, orderly and regular migration, and to provide assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants and communities all around the world.

In the UK we help migrants to better integrate, and we assist receiving communities to recognize and support the positive contributions that migrants can make.

About Together Productions

“Covid 19 forces us to re-evaluate what is important, who the real change makers are, and how they make a difference to our lives”, say Holly Jones and Jeremy Haneman from Together Productions – Imagine: Imagine is providing a platform for a global community to come together and celebrate the talents of displaced people and diverse communities everywhere. In a locked down world making connections across personal, cultural and international divides is more important than ever, and music is the universal language that bonds us all”.

Together Productions is a ground-breaking social change organisation based in the UK. We produce innovative collaborative arts projects that connect people, organisations and audiences across social and cultural divides.

We run community projects including the Mixed Up Chorus and the Sing For Freedom Choir and the large-scale composition and performance project Singing Our Lives.

About I Speak Music

Raghad Haddad, Musical Director, I Speak Music, explains what has inspired the song Walk With Me: “We wrote this song during lock down to express gratitude to everyone, now and before, who have made their new home in foreign lands, to say forever welcome and thank you for enriching the experience and history of this complex, difficult, beautiful and ever evolving world. We feel honoured that people from so many countries have felt a connection with our message, which is ultimately one of unity, solidarity and connection through music”.

I Speak Music is a programme designed to promote empathy and celebrate the diversity of local communities. I Speak Music has three strands of work: training and events to bring together multiple agencies; a songwriting programme for displaced minors, and the I Speak Music Orchestra, bringing together an intergenerational group of people from diverse backgrounds to create new music and share their stories and cultural background.

The programme is managed by Surrey Arts and is currently receiving funding from Arts Council EnglandArts Partnership Surrey and The National Foundation for Youth Music.

I Speak music welcomes people ages 14+ from all backgrounds, but is particularly interested in hearing from refugees, unaccompanied minors, BAME communities and those who sing or play non-western musical instruments. Professional musicians are welcome to join the group as are those with no previous musical experience.

Further Partners

The project has also been supported and promoted by: Musicians Without Borders, The Human Hive, Surrey Arts, Art27 and Refugee Week.

Surrey Arts Virtual Open Day 2020

Surrey Arts are bringing the sound of instruments to you via a Virtual Open Day, on Saturday 12 September. As it is currently difficult to get around the county and demonstrate our amazing range of instruments, Surrey Arts have put together a day full of introductions to instrument families. Featuring Surrey Arts Tutors, these clips will be released throughout the day via the Surrey Arts social media channels and then available on the Surrey Arts YouTube channel. Head of Service, Sarah Lee, said “This is a great chance for people to see and hear a wide range of musical instruments. We hope the day will help them discover the instrument that is right for them and inspire them to learn.”

The Virtual Open Day will feature instruments from strings and percussion, brass and guitar, music tech and woodwind, and much more – including opportunities with the UP! Orchestra (an ensemble designed to be accessible for young people aged 13+ with special educational needs) and I Speak Music.

Virtual Open Day timetable

9.30 – Introduction from Sarah Lee, Head of Service
10.00 – The Sounds of Brass
10.30 – DJing and Music Tech
11.00 – The Sounds of the Guitar
11.30 – I Speak Music
12.00 – The Sounds of Percussion
12.30 – The Piano
13.00 – Singing
13.30 – The Sounds of Strings
14.00 – UP! Orchestra
14.30 – The Sounds of Woodwind
15.00 – Surrey Arts Ensembles

Times are subject to change and will be available on the Surrey Arts YouTube channel along with other instrument tutorials.

Lessons with Surrey Arts can be booked through

Surrey Music and Arts Summer Holiday Activities 2020

Surrey Arts have put together their largest ever programme of summer holiday activities for art and music. There are fantastic opportunities to see instruments played for the first time, hear and play music from all over the world, join in percussion sessions with materials found around the home, have free taster sessions in piano and singing, join a guitar band, make a DJ mix on your computer, join in with the UP! Orchestra and much much more.

Have a look at the SMASH activities programme 2020

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