How Tees Valley Music Service has Changed During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Since the UK went under severe restrictions, TVMS have had to change the way we provide services and opportunities to children and the wider community in Teesside. With schools closed and social distancing measures in place, and expected to be in place for a long time, TVMS have adapted the methods we use in delivering music tuition and offer musical opportunities in general.

Lessons have been provided online through music software program Charanga and TVMS concerts have morphed into virtual performances, while also offering content for the wider community during this incredibly troubling time.

Here are just some of the ways Tase Valley Music Service has changed the way we operate during the Covid-19 lockdown:

TVYC Perform 'Something Inside So Strong' to Thank NHS & Key Workers

In one of the very first projects since cancelling all face-to-face rehearsals and public events, the imaginative members within Tees Valley Youth Choir established a virtual choir to display their gratitude for the workers and NHS staff on the frontline during this pandemic.

Originally by Labi Siffre, the Choir performed 'Something Inside So Strong' from their own homes. The video was produced by Tom Powell, a former member of TVYC, who commented that this song "was picked because that's something everyone needs right now - strength, and music to help us draw that from within."

Since going live on the TVYC's Official Facebook page, the video has been viewed more than 53,000 times.

It marks the first in a continued effort from everyone at TVMS to continue to provide musical opportunities and support to our pupils, their parents and the wider community.

Online Teaching and Virtual Classes for Every TVMS Pupil

Since schools closed for the foreseeable future, the biggest challenge for TVMS was to continue to provide lessons and musical opportunities to our pupils.

Several weeks before lockdown was announced, TVMS management drew up numerous contingency plans in case schools were instructed to close and Office staff had to work remotely. As part of these plans, Charanga (the music education software) was highlighted as being the platform best suited to continuing the tuition of our students during the pandemic.

On this platform students can find tailored videos from their music teachers, accompanied with musical games, stories, activities, worksheets and video quizzes to support and enhance their learning.

The decision to largely teach using video and web resources rather than through webinars was so that pupils could access the lessons at a time that suited them and to prevent technical issues and conflicts with other activities and family commitments. The decision was also taken to safeguard staff and pupils.

Older students will also benefit from StudyPlan by SpeedAdmin where pupils and parents to take part in a two-way chat with the TVMS teacher to give lesson feedback and share specific music resources. This new feature is available through parent's SpeedAdmin account. Other elements, important for older students, include musical theory resources and two-way chat so that the teacher can give feedback on a pupil's performance to their parent.

Whole-class resources have also been made available for class teachers to disseminate to their pupils as part of the lesson packs students recieve for home learning.

Mr Drum's Bucket Drumming

Phil McPharlane, or Mr Drum as he's affectionately known, has produced several tutorial-styled videos to teach newcomers bucket drumming.

In each of his tutorials, Mr Drum gives viewers the basic rhythm and beats to perform a well-known song using only two drum sticks (although wooden spoons work just as well) and a plastic bucket.

The videos are intended as a whole-class teaching resource for class teachers to deliver music education when peripatetic TVMS staff are unable to visit schools in person. They are also being promoted for the wider community to access by publicly listing the content on YouTube and sharing them through TVMS social media and on the website.

Mr Drum uses a simple number and beat method, as well as incorporate handy on-screen graphics so that learning this new skill is as easy as possible.

In his introduction video, Mr Drum explains the basics of bucket drumming.

The 8-part series teaches viewers how to play 'We Will Rock You' by Queen, 'Billie Jean' by Michael Jackson and 'Yellow' by Coldplay - amongst other hits. By the end of this series you will have accomplished the basics of bucket drumming.

Helpful on-screen graphics assist with teaching and demonstration (Drumming with TVMS/YouTube)

Watch out for new bucket drumming videos coming soon on our dedicated Drumming at Tees Valley Music Service YouTube channel.

Tees Valley Youth Choir's Singalongs (The Care Home Project)

It's been a couple of very busy months for Tees Valley Youth Choir as the ensemble has recorded and produced singalong videos, aimed at keeping care home residents smiling during these difficult times.

Currently the Choir have sent four singalong videos to care homes, with a new singalong video coming out every week. Ahead of the May half-term, TVYC released their fourth singalong early so that care homes would have resources for the week when no music activity would be taking place.

The songs have been chosen to reflect the age demographic of our intended audience. So far, the repertoire includes 'Mamma Mia', 'Somewhere Beyond the Sea', 'One Moment in Time' and 'We'll meet again'.

Take a look at the first singalong performance below:

Nikki Lycett-Findlay, TVYC's Musical Director, wrote in a dedicated post on Facebook that she "hoped the singalongs bring the residents some joy and comfort in these challenging times."

She continued, "We would love to see residents and staff enjoying our singalongs so if you would like to record a short clip or take some photos please send them to"

Alongside these dedicated weekly videos, Mrs Lycett-Findlay and other TVMS staff have recorded a very special singalong performance to celebrate the 100th birthday of an Italian resident of Princess Court Care Home in North Shields. The video features beloved Italian pieces including 'Quando Me'n vo' and 'O Sole Mio (My Sunshine)'.

It is expected that the Care Home Project will continue throughout the lockdown with the schedule of a new singalong each week being maintained.

New Resources for the Durham and Tees Valley Teachers' Choir

With the current restrictions and social distancing guidelines in place, it is no longer possible for ensembles and community groups to meet in person. Therefore, many of our ensembles have moved to rehearsing and performing virtually, from the comfort of their own homes. This is also the case for the Durham and Tees Valley Teachers' Choir.

The choir was launched in September 2018 and was aimed towards school teachers and teaching assistants. The purpose was to provide an opportunity to develop their singing abilities, to de-stress and enjoy the physiological benefits of singing in a choir.

Led by Susan Robertson and Nikki Lycett-Findlay from Tees Valley Music Service and Katie Hibbard from Durham Music Service (DMS), the Choir met monthly to rehearse and once performed at Durham Cathedral.

Now, resources have been provided by TVMS staff to support Durham and Tees Valley Teachers' Choir members rehearsing during the time when face-to-face meetings aren't possible.

'Practice at your Pace, Play the Virtual Race' Challenge

A new initiative to motivate pupils to continue to play their instruments has been set up by TVMS. The 'Practice at Your Pace, Play the Virtual Race' challenge encourages students to build their own virtual distance with 20 minutes of practice time, which represents 1 marathon mile.

Gain rosettes by achieving 5 miles, 10 miles, a half marathon, 20 miles and completing your marathon challenge by practising for over 8 hours in total.

Not only will you stay active and motivated, but pupils will receive an amazing Music Marathon certificate, and be entered onto our Music Practice Marathon Wall of Honour.

Enter this challenge now at and download the Race Pack with all the information you need.

Tees Valley Youth Orchestra Prepares for First Virtual Concert

Similarly with TVYC, Tees Valley Youth Orchestra have released several virtual performances to give Orchestra members new challenges during lockdown.

One of their first pieces, 'You've got a friend in me' by Randy Newman from Toy Story, demonstrated how a virtual concert could be just as impressive as an in-person performance. The brass section of TVYO performed this piece, which was described by Nicholas Nowicki (TVYO Conductor) as a 'timely song'. Quoting the lyrics Mr Nowicki said: "We stick together and can see it through, 'cause you've got a friend in me.

"We're certainly missing our friends right now, but we know we'll all be stronger at the other side." Mr Nowicki concluded.

TVYO followed this performance with a magical reimagining of 'The Circle of Life' by Elton John from The Lion King.

Currently, Tees Valley Youth Orchestra are asking all current and former members, along with their parents, to come together as part of the 'Over the Rainbow Virtual Orchestra' project. The project would consist of pupils listening to the 'Over the Rainbow' backing track and playing along.

Entry for participants sending in videos has already closed therefore the TVYO virtual concert is expected to be released very soon. Keep a look out on TVYO's official Facebook and Twitter pages as well as on Tees Valley Music Service's lockdown YouTube channel.

Coming Soon...

In addition to the Tees Valley Youth Orchestra's Rainbow Concert, TVMS are planning several more projects for our students, their families and the wider community to get involved in.

Stay tuned on our social networks and on our website for all the latest updates.

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