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Working in the local area

Sparks student writing
RCM Sparks works in partnership with community schemes, charities, orchestras and venues on innovative and bespoke music projects.

Our partnership programme also aims to increase access to music making for local families and young people from less affluent backgrounds. RCM Sparks has particularly strong partnerships with the Tri-borough Music Hub and one of London’s most iconic venues, our neighbours, the Royal Albert Hall.

61% of


from under-represented groups

In the 2019/20 academic year

Tri-borough Music Hub

The Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH) is the lead organisation overseeing the delivery of music education in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of Westminster. An award-winning organisation, TBMH is a centralised local authority that receives core funding from the Department for Education via Arts Council England, working with schools, pupils and the workforce.

The Royal College of Music works closely with TBMH and the Royal Albert Hall as strategic partners, helping to achieve the following aims:

  • Engage all schools in the area, in order to reach all pupils and provide them with access to high-quality music education opportunities
  • Raise standards and support musical progression for all pupils
  • Ensure a broad range of outstanding musical opportunities for pupils, parents and the community

We plan our widening participation work based on a detailed understanding of the areas of need in the local area. Through this relationship with the TBMH, RCM Sparks has regular links with a number of state schools.

School partnerships

RCM Sparks works closely with three partner secondary schools and three partner primary schools, all within the Tri-borough Music Hub area. We deliver bespoke strategic music programmes, operating in school and at the Royal College of Music, calling upon the RCM’s links with first class music educators, workshop leaders and our own students, (RCM Sparks Mentors) to engage pupils in music making from early years through to A Level, supporting children and schools to give them a life-long love of music.

Our three primary partners benefit from weekly early years Dalcroze, music and movement sessions, lunchtime concerts, bespoke workshops and projects for pupils with speech and language difficulties, including dyslexic students. All other Sparks events are flagged with the schools with the majority being free to access for pupils and parents.

Our partner primary schools are feeder schools for our secondary partner schools, continuing the vital musical work that has taken place in Key Stage 1 and 2. Secondary school pupils can access our Springboard composition weekend courses at the Royal College of Music, creative careers days and bespoke workshops and events (conducting workshops, creative music production support, Gifted and Talented sessions and concert support).

Our partner schools are:

Oxford Gardens Primary

Churchill Gardens Primary Academy

Old Oak Primary

Pimlico Academy

Kensington Aldridge Academy

Hammersmith Academy

Activities for schools


IntoUniversity and RCM Sparks work in partnership to reach local young people who would not normally engage with higher education pathways. Sparks delivers workshops with IntoUniversity centres in Brent, Haringey, Hammersmith, North Islington and North Kensington and also offers visits to the RCM. These workshops offer a range of opportunities for participants to develop and sustain their interest in music and broaden horizons to Higher Education settings in general. In 2018-19 more than 139 participants from IU were involved in RCM workshops.

Find out more

Supporting larger scale projects

Convo, an ambitious new work by RCM alumnus composer Charlotte Harding, commissioned by the Tri-borough Music Hub, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Music premiered at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 March 2019.

A massed instrumental ensemble of Tri-borough music hub young musicians played side-by-side with professional instrumentalists, together supporting a massed chorus of around 1,000 primary, secondary and special school pupils. The huge ensemble was led by the internationally renowned conductor Ben Palmer. The performance was the culmination of an extensive two-year project of creative music making and development across the Tri-borough music hub, which aimed to embed best musical practice as an essential part of school life, giving invaluable musical opportunities to all pupils in the area irrespective of their background.

We are very grateful to John Lyon’s Charity for their generous support of Convo.

Find out more


See and hear more about Convo from the people involved, including RCM composer Charlotte Harding

Convo follows the success of Seven Seeds, a large scale performance of a newly commissioned vocal work involving 160 schools, more than 20 Royal College of Music students from and 150 music co-ordinators. In November 2015 Seven Seeds was awarded the prize for 'New Music' by the Music Education Council of Great Britiain (MEC) and shortlisted for the 'Best Classical Music Education Initiative'.

Visit the Convo website

Tri-Music Together

RCM Sparks has actively engaged as a consortium partner in the Tri-Music Together project, funded by Youth Music and led by the Tri-borough Music Hub. Summer 2018 marked the end of an initial two year project to enhance Early Years music provision from birth to age five in the Tri-borough area. Over the two years the programme engaged with 120 settings, 249 early years practitioners and 148 music leaders through a broad programme of training, peer-to-peer reflection, mini-projects and the development of resources.

Within the current phase (2019-22) the Tri-Music Together project continues to offer continuing professional development opportunities for Early Years educators and musicians both within and outside of the Tri-borough area. It also advocates for quality Early Years music education and reflects on each of the Tri-borough Early Years Music Consortium partner's Early Years programmes, and strategically supports Music Education Hubs in England to develop their Early Years music provision.

Find out more

Musical Development Matters

One of the aims of Tri-Music together project was to create resources to support early years music and to create a legacy. Musical Development Matters is a brand-new guidance document that has been written to support those who work with young children in early childhood. Supporting materials have also been created and are available from Youth Music.

Read and download Musical Development Matters

Royal Albert Hall

Since 2012, RCM Sparks and the Royal Albert Hall have worked in partnership to deliver an innovative community programme. The unique combination of education expertise and diverse concert programming means we can offer exciting and engaging activities while providing access to both iconic institutions.

All events are supported by musicians from the Royal College of Music and the Royal Albert Hall’s Albert’s Band. In addition to Get, Set, Play, Royal College of Music musicians also support the Royal Albert Hall’s series of rock & pop music workshops based around the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts. These workshops give teenage cancer sufferers the chance to work creatively and compose their own pop songs.

Get, Set, Play

Get, Set, Play, which involves the Tri-Borough Music Hub as well as RCM Sparks and the Royal Albert Hall, takes place in community centres in the local area. The programme will explore music from composer Sally Greaves' Groove n' Play series, providing a fun, intergenerational opportunity to explore first-access instruments such as ukulele, guitar, violin, keyboard, percussion and singing.

At the end of the programme children are offered a 'scholarship' scheme – subsidised music lessons or choir membership with the Tri-Borough Music Hub. Families who access the Get, Set, Play programme are also encouraged to continue their involvement in Sparks events by booking free access places for in-house Sparks events available via the Royal College of Music Box Office.

Turtle Song

Turtle Song is a Turtle Key Arts, English Touring Opera and Royal College of Music partnership project which brings music, movement, and singing to people with memory problems and their carers.

Over the course of the project, participants write the lyrics and compose the music for their own song cycle with the help of an animateur, a composer, Royal College of Music students or a Royal College of Music ambassador. The piece is then performed and recorded on DVD so that it can be shared with family and friends.

Since the first Turtle Song at the Royal College of Music in 2008 it has been introduced in Cambridge, Wolverhampton, Dulwich, Suffolk, Oxford, Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds, Norwich, Reading, Newbury, Croydon, Hackney, York, Waddesdon Manor, Chester and Camden. There are now on average five held each year.

Turtle Song was recently featured in the BBC documentary Holding Back the Years.