Learning pathways

Children and adults at an RCM Sparks events, smiling and playing recycled instruments
One of RCM Sparks' primary goals is to provide accessible, long-term learning pathways for children from underrepresented groups. Our activities and partnerships are carefully designed to achieve this goal.

Our Mini Sparks programme, which takes place at nursery level, feeds into our partner primary schools. Likewise, our collaboration with the RCM Junior Department offers a route to professional musical training taught at a world-class level for children aged 8 and above.

RCM Sparks runs a series of programmes targeted at young people in our local community. We also offer a varied and exciting series of public events, offering specially calibrated activities for children, families and schools from far and wide.

Specialist weekly early years classes

to 200

under 5s

In the 2021-22 academic year

For children in local boroughs

Working closely with the Tri-Borough Music Hub, we run a programme designed specifically for children in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of Westminster. We form partnerships with local schools and nurseries, always striving to make quality music education available to those who otherwise might not be able to afford it and where provision is lacking.

An enhanced bursary programme is available to support children from lower socio-economic backgrounds on their journey from Sparks Juniors through to the RCM Junior Department and undergraduate study as a senior College student. The Royal College of Music is committed to ensuring that 80% of participants engaged in Sparks Juniors are from such backgrounds. Some may join us from our early years scheme, Mini Sparks, whereas many will begin their time with us through Sparks Juniors at age 3.

Mini Sparks (ages 0-3)

Our specialist Early Years programme Mini Sparks has been running since 2015, and takes place in local libraries, children's centres or community centres. Our aim is to ensure quality early music education is available to those who otherwise might not be able to afford it or where provision is lacking, right at the start of a family’s musical journey.

Led by early years music specialists and supported by RCM students, this programme takes a child-centred approach, placing spontaneous, playful and creative music making at the heart of their musical learning. Key to the success of the scheme is encouraging communication through music.

Sparks Juniors (ages 3-8)

Sparks Juniors is an exciting collaboration between RCM Sparks and the RCM Junior Department launched in September 2009. Each year, the initiative offers eight pupils a free three-year programme of high level tuition led by RCMJD staff and Royal College of Music student mentors.

Sparks Juniors is aimed at young people from our local partner schools who would not normally be able to access such an opportunity. Currently, 80% of young people on the Sparks Juniors programme are from underrepresented backgrounds.

In September 2018, the programme extended its provision to early years, delivering weekly Dalcroze Eurythmics sessions to 240 children aged 3-5 in three local primary schools.

Leading on from Mini Sparks (age 0-3) programme, this 30-week extended scheme offers formal training from age 3, providing a secure and advanced foundation through Kodaly and Dalcroze learning. It also provides a clear progression route into Sparks Juniors at the RCM Junior Department or the Tri-Borough Music Hub.

Get, Set, Play (ages 6-8)

Get, Set, Play is an annual 6-week series of friendly and inspiring music sessions in community centres, for families living locally in the Tri-borough. Devised with family wellbeing in mind, this fun, innovative programme run in partnership with Groove n' Play includes singing, playing the recorder, ukulele and percussion. It also involves lots of interactive games, quizzes, and even dancing together! Research has shown that regular music-making can reduce stress and anxiety in both adults and children. We bring busy families together and inject a little sparkle into Saturdays, culminating in an exciting show, supported by live musicians at the Royal College of Music.

After this 6-week introductory programme, children are invited to apply for funded music lessons and/or choir opportunities with the Tri-borough Music Hub (subject to age/availability).

After the age of 8

Children in the local area who have enjoyed our programme for under 8s are encouraged to continue their relationship with RCM Sparks through our public events and to make the best use of other schemes offered by the Tri-Borough Music Hub. Many will be eligible for subsidy, enabling children from lower income families to continue their journey and grow their passion for music.

Particularly talented children are encouraged to audition for the RCM Junior Department, a world-class Saturday school for musicians aged 8-18. An enhanced bursary programme is available to support students from lower socio-economic backgrounds on our Sparks Juniors programme, helping them to progress to the RCM Junior Department and on to undergraduate study as a senior College student.

RCM Sparks has a long history of running exciting and engaging Springboard Composition Courses for young people age 12-18. In 2022-23 RCM Sparks is offering a fully-funded year-long Young Composers Course for 14 and 15 year olds from local partner schools and community groups (all who meet one of RCM Sparks' eligibility criteria). The course allows teenagers to unlock their creative minds and develop their musical personalities in the inspiring surroundings of the Royal College of Music, raising aspirations and providing insight into composition at higher education level.

The Springboard Composition Courses are generously supported by Jane Avery in memory of Robert Avery. 

Looking to learn an instrument?

If you live in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham or the City of Westminster, you have access to tuition and other initiatives provided by the Tri-borough Music Hub.

Tri-borough Music Hub services

In addition, the Royal College of Music provides a dedicated service for members of the public, adults or children, who would like to learn how to play an instrument, how to sing, how to compose and those who would like to learn music theory.

RCM Teaching Service

The Music Mark website provides an interactive map to find your local music service.

Find my local music service

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