HMDT Music’s Music Treehouse is shortlisted as a finalist in the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022 for Excellence in SEN/D!

HMDT Music’s Music Treehouse is shortlisted as a finalist in the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022 for Excellence in SEN/D for its work in 2020-21.
“This is a fantastic achievement and recognises the quality and innovative nature of the work you and your team are doing.” – Music & Drama Awards Team


Music Treehouse is HMDT Music’s SEN/D programme which offers free weekly creative music-making and music therapy for children with a wide range of mild to severe, profound and complex needs including developmental disorders, mobility issues and ASD non-verbal as part of its Saturday Programme.


The uncertainties of Covid were particularly difficult for SEN/D children and their families last year, with so many of their support structures not functioning and schools closed and so keeping Music Treehouse going throughout the year was essential. Having initially offered a series of specially made videos for children to enjoy at home we moved to zoom sessions.


We would like to say a big thanks to Tim for his online videos. Our son is really enjoying them. 


Once all children had access to an instrument, (delivering them as needed), we continued to offer weekly sessions to each group and 1:1 music therapy. Despite the difficulties of working over zoom; technical difficulties of sound, limited equipment and WiFi costs for many families, we continued to engage around 50 participants across the year.


C was ecstatic – she loved her online session!


When we returned to distanced sessions in the summer at our home Bridge Academy in Hackney, many shielding joined online from home or continued 1:1 online therapy sessions, alongside those attending in person. We then continued the programme online across the summer holidays.


K has loved coming to Music Treehouse. He’s grown from a 10 year old who joined to a cheeky teenager! Thank you Music Treehouse and Sylvia for helping K to grow into this confident young man! It’s been great to be able to continue this in lockdown.”


The impact has been immense; empowering participants to actively take part in, contribute to and take ownership and pride in music-based activities, developing their social engagement and abilities to respond and communicate. Despite the complexities of the year we’re delighted that Music Treehouse has significantly helped young people improve their well-being and develop their creative expressive and key life-skills through music:


Thank you for everything, it’s brilliant and a real life line and we really appreciate all the hard work it must be. 

TIME School achieves OUTSTANDING Ofsted rating!

Lytham Hall Park Primary School have recently achieved an OUTSTANDING rating with Ofsted, and cites their involvement with HMDT Music’s TIME project as part of their success.


I honestly believe that without our participation in the TIME project our curriculum, and our teaching and learning, … would not be as strong as it is now. I feel this was a significant contribution to the standards reflected in our Outstanding OFSTED outcome.

Sharon Bowker, Headteacher at Lytham Hall Park Primary School.





At Lytham Hall Park Primary School we have always been passionate about ensuring our team can access high quality professional development.  When we wanted to improve our curriculum offer the TIME Project offered us exactly the support we needed.  This was the opportunity to ensure that high quality teaching and learning in the arts.


The TIME project has awakened our school to the power of the arts and the importance of creativity within our curriculum. It has enabled our school to connect with inspiring artists, musicians and dramatists to support teachers in their approaches to planning and delivering high quality learning experiences. Incorporating the arts into our classes has seen an increase in our children’s motivation, engagement and self-esteem. The impact of this project is being felt across the school with renewed enthusiasm for the wider curriculum.


The difference for us was the access to high quality professional development from the skilled practitioners working closely with our teachers.  It developed subject expertise in the wider curriculum with particular impact in music and art & design. Our school was judged to be outstanding in our most recent OFSTED inspection in October 2021.  There was a ‘deep dive’ in Art & Design and also a focus on the curriculum in Music. There is no doubt that without our long term involvement with the TIME Project our curriculum would not have been judged to be outstanding.


“Teachers introduce new learning carefully, so that it builds systematically on what pupils have learned before.”

“[teachers] support pupils to remember what they have learned so that pupils can embed and use their knowledge fluently. All pupils, including disadvantaged pupils, achieve exceptionally well.”



Over three years all our teachers, and particularly our subject leaders, have learnt from the artists we have worked with through the TIME project and this has then led us to change our curriculum to ensure long term sustainability.  An example of this is the introduction of a composition unit for music in all our year groups.  This was as a direct result of the professional development we received from TIME, introducing us to techniques such as soundscapes.  It truly has been transformational.  In Art & Design we have previously struggled to introduce sketch books, ensuring all teachers had an understanding of how these benefit teaching and learning in art.  The TIME project allowed us to provide training for all our team and model how these could be used effectively.  The impact again has been transformational.


We have now moved to a point where we see the arts as a strength in our curriculum and in fact we invited the inspection team to Deep Dive Art & Design.  TIME has filled our team with confidence.


This is directly referenced in the OFSTED inspection report,

“Leaders have constructed an ambitious and well-planned curriculum for all pupils, including children in the early years. Leaders and governors have ensured that staff are experts in the subjects that they lead. Subject leaders have been able to benefit from high-quality training to develop their curriculum expertise. They have carefully considered the important knowledge that pupils should learn and when. Throughout the school, subject leaders support teachers effectively to introduce new learning and vocabulary with precision.”


We know that one aspect of the inspection framework that schools struggle to evidence is

Leaders focus on improving teachers’ subject, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge in order to enhance the teaching of the curriculum and the appropriate use of assessment. The practice and subject knowledge of staff, including ECTs, build and improve over time. (OFSTED Handbook 322)


Schools may have this in place for core subjects but not for the wider curriculum including the arts.  However, the work we had done as part of the TIME project, and the way this has then influenced our curriculum design, meant we could evidence this as a strength, supporting our outstanding judgement.


I honestly believe that without our participation in the TIME project our curriculum, and our teaching and learning, particularly in art and music would not be as strong as it is now.   I feel this was a significant contribution to the standards reflected in our OFSTED outcome.


However, more importantly, I now am seeing the impact in terms of our pupils’ outcomes.  For example they have built their art skills over a number of years and now they are producing art work of an incredibly high standard, but also with a love of learning in the arts.  They see themselves as artists, musicians, performers.  We see them focus on their art work for hours, engaged and enthralled, and this is facilitated by the confidence they now have as they have a toolkit of knowledge and skills.


In remote education, throughout both national lockdowns, our team prioritised the arts,  I think this reflects the teachers’ confidence and valuing of the arts built through the TIME project.  We continued with music, drama  and art work as part of our curriculum delivered remotely and we saw the well-being impact of this for our pupils.  TIME helped us all to love the arts and prioritised them and protect them in our learning  and in our lives.




Saturday Rooftop Academy is HMDT Music’s new band programme for Year 9+ students to work with industry professionals.

Students will learn established standards, and learn how to arrange and compose both their own songs and existing material. They will also benefit from: the experience of a professional recording artist, learning about the music industry, how to plan a set and a range of performance opportunities.

Who is it for?

If you’re Year 9+, minimum Grade 4 or equivalent on an instrument or voice, and want to have fun making music in a band or group and explore music from different genres, cultures and eras, then this is the programme for you! If you are also taking or thinking of taking GSCE or A-Level music this will be a great opportunity to enhance your musical skills and knowledge.

What does it offer?

  • Performing music you enjoy in our new Rock/Pop Band and creating your own;
  • Composition with professional composers who cover a broad spectrum of genres;
  • Guest masterclasses from specialist artists from across the industry;
  • Performance opportunities;
  • The option to add an individual instrumental or singing lesson.





HMDT Music is delighted to have been awarded the London Youth Bronze Quality Mark!

NEW Arts CPD Programme for Primary Schools

HMDT Music’s new TIME CPD Programme: Embedding the Arts across the Curriculum  embraces our award-winning methodology refined over the past twenty years. The online year-long programme delivered by a team of expert artist educators builds technical skills for teachers in a range of art forms and introduces new ideas, methodologies and resources to support use of the arts to enhance the curriculum, raise achievement and inspire learning. The 12 sessions in art, music, drama, film and puppets are designed to give teachers confidence and expertise to help enhance students’ creativity, imagination and curiosity by delivering a broad and rich curriculum.


It has developed my classroom practice immeasurably, constantly being inspired by the new approaches to learning. Teacher

For more information



One Spirit – Update June 2021

At 8.00am on Tuesday March 24th 2020 we (One Spirit team) had just pulled into the car park of HMYOI Cookham Wood when we received a call from Cookham Wood’s education manager asking us to stay put; she’d call back in 5 minutes and update us on their ‘Covid plan’. Sure enough, 5 minutes later she called back and apologetically told us the prison was now fully locked down.


For the next 6+ weeks all face to face / in person One Spirit activities ceased; mentors switched to communicating with their mentees, and where appropriate delivering sessions by zoom and / or phone.  This worked well if the mentee had good Internet access – one mentee in particular was able to continue working on his business plan and setting up his record label with the mentor’s remote help – but with many of the cohort it was a poor substitute for the support they continued to need, if indeed it was possible at all.


By mid May face to face sessions gradually started to resume. It was noticeable that most of the young people (especially the younger ones) enrolled in the One Spirit mentoring program appeared generally nervous and confused about coming out, more unwilling than ever to use public transport and, given the stereotypes of this cohort being lawless and irresponsible it was surprising to see how confused and in even more need of solid guidance and direction they appeared to be.


The intensification of 2020’s BLM movement and the events preceding and following the death of George Floyd had no small impact on the individuals One Spirit works with in the community, 96% of whom are black or of mixed race heritage, and in what is almost post-Lockdown UK 2021 this impact continues to resonate. In addition and further heightening the intensity and vulnerability of the young people we work with the teenage murder rate in 2021, after only 5 months, has already surpassed that of 2020.


All these events combined have proved to be both a positive and negative motivator. Positively, the demand for our services from YOT has increased, young people’s attendance at sessions in the community has improved and it has been noticeable that most of the young people we are working with seem more motivated to find employment and / or enquire about further education. Negatively and perhaps predictably, the issue of isolation intensified during 2020, along with boredom, hopelessness and the loss of motivation. It was hard to get some young people to come out immediately after the first lockdown, but mentors kept up constant communication with their mentees and by late June 2020 face to face sessions gathered pace. This included mentors travelling to see young people in their communities around Greater London, and in some cases further afield if the young person had been re-housed outside London, as well as delivering sessions in one of the One Spirit mentor locations in either North West or South London.


In July of 2020 the education manager at Oakhill STC (formerly of HMP Aylesbury) contacted HMDT Music requesting the support of the One Spirit programme.  Oakhill houses 14-18 year olds, who for various reasons have been deemed too vulnerable to serve sentences in ‘mainstream’ YOIs. One Spirit delivery started with groups of up to 4 young people within the main education timetable; as soon as One Spirit staff had keys delivery switched to 1to1 support sessions for specific young people, identified as such either because of their resettlement plans or because of other specific needs. One Spirit staff have forged great relationships with staff at the centre and delivered some crucial and valuable work with young people, some of whom have already connected with the programme in the community post-release. Ofsted recently inspected the centre and rated HMDT Music’s provision there very highly amongst the aspects of education and care that are working well:

The link with the Hackney Music Trust is both interesting and meaningful.  It provides a very effective hook to engage the learners in other activities including self-evaluation and reflection.  It provides an emotional outlet for the teenagers and work has been done with the management to secure an understanding that “what is said in the room, stays in the room” (unless there are security/safety concerns).  The music activities provide a channel for the development of communication skills as the learners develop lyrics.  As well as providing an opportunity to develop a long-term hobby, this work has a resettlement aspect as the young people are followed up on release.  There are very close and effective links with the Music Technology teacher to ensure meaningful cross-over of technical and creative activities.

Gemma Howarth, Head of Education, Oakhill Secure Training Centre


In the last month (May/June 21) the prison service has given the go ahead to YOI establishments to restart work with outside agencies; HMYOIs Feltham and Cookham Wood and HMP Aylesbury have all been in touch with HMDT Music to discuss a resumption in delivery.


Work in the community continues apace, and of the 24 young people / adults currently accessing the programme:


  • 33% are in college or further education
  • 54% are in full or part time employment
  • 91% have not reoffended


Young people, their parents / carers, and the staff working with them in statutory settings continue to give positive feedback about One Spirit’s programme:


I can go studio with my boys, but it’s not the same. You were there with me when I was in jail and you’ve continued to be there since I came out. I’m not saying you’re my counsellor, but coming studio with you is like counselling, I need it. It’s fun and all that, but also it really helps.

Young person engaging with One Spirit in the community


We’ve just been talking for like 45 minutes and hardly done any music, but it was a sick lesson; thanks Sir.

Young person after 1to1 session at Oakhill STC


This is so helpful, there should be more things like this. I’m really glad I came with D today.”

Young person’s mother, attending a session in the community with her son


I just wanted to thank you for sending over the updates on the young people’s progress.  I wanted also to feedback to you on the service you offer as we have just undergone an inspection and your work was highlighted as a particularly positive intervention.


 What stood out to inspectors was the fact that you were able to open up and remain a safe environment during much of the lockdown – providing a much-needed outlet for our young people.  You were one of the few agencies to do this and this was appreciated hugely by the young people we work with and practitioners alike. Furthermore the fact that you continue to work with young people after their Order or YOT involvement is complete provides us with an excellent ‘exit plan’ for our young people and means that they continue to engage in positive activities.

 It was also noted that through the excellent work you do in Oakhill and HMP YOI you have been able to offer some continuity for our young people from your work with them both in the community and in custody- this is hugely comforting to them at a time when they feel most alone and vulnerable.


Basically just a big thank you for all you do – please keep doing it!!”

Manager, Merton YOT

LAST CHANCE to buy tickets for “Jina and the STEM Sisters”


“Jina and The STEM Sisters seeks not solely to promote creativity … but opens arms to young girls, advocating them to be courageous in the face of oppression, be proud in the curiosity they demonstrate and be weird, be clever, and driven to explore the world.”

The Reviews Hub



Preview 7: We asked our female team to sum up the project in just one or two words. It proved quite a challenge! How would you summarise the show?


PREVIEW: The one word challenge to describe the show!



“This is a production that can be appreciated on several levels and it is most definitely worth seeing with your children.”

London Living Large


Featuring puppeteers Ruth Calkin and Nix Wood, singers: Nadine Benjamin, Eloise Eisenberg, Abigail Kelly, Susan Moore, Jessica Gillingwater and the I Can Sing! Children’s Chorus, with the STEM Sisters band directed by Jenny Gould.


For ALL ages from 8+.


Streaming NOW! until 11 April.


Find out more and book tickets HERE!

ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT! “Witty as well as enlightening” – Preview 6: The STEM Sisters Team!

“I was thrilled to “meet” Hedy Lamarr, the American actress whose scientific work led to wifi, Bluetooth and GPS. Her puppet sings all about it. Why had I not heard of this woman? Because we’re taught/told only about male achievers, I suppose, and that’s the whole point of the enjoyable Jina and the STEM Sisters”.
Musical Theatre Review



Did you know that Jina and the STEM Sisters isn’t just about inspirational women, but created by an entirely female team? This week we hear about what drew Director Clare Whistler to the project, and who else was involved in creating our “enchanting and “inspiring puppetry musical”.



Why not make an event of it and share this with your friends and family?


“This is a production that can be appreciated on several levels and it is most definitely worth seeing with your children.”
London Living Large


Featuring puppeteers Ruth Calkin and Nix Wood, singers: Nadine Benjamin, Eloise Eisenberg, Abigail Kelly, Susan Moore, Jessica Gillingwater and the I Can Sing! Children’s Chorus, with the STEM Sisters band directed by Jenny Gould.
For ALL ages from 8+.
Streaming NOW! until 11 April.

Roadmap to Return – The Saturday Programme

Dear Parents and Guardians,


Unfortunately in accordance with the recent government guidance, we’re not able to return in person this term.


This is however set to change on 12 April meaning we are expecting to be in person at Bridge Academy, for the summer term starting on 24 April. Music Treehouse will return on 1 May.


If you wish to read the government guidance in detail, please see the two links below:




Best wishes
The HMDT Music Team

“Inspiring Puppetry Musical” – Preview 5: Designing the Puppets

“Sophia Lovell Smith’s rod puppets don impressively intricate costumes and are controlled by Calkin and Wood with pin-point precision and distinctive choreography that lends each character a unique personality.
The Stage


This week Sophia Lovell Smith talks to us about Designing the Puppets. Each of our powerful STEM Sisters comes from a different time period, and Sophia brings those different styles, as well as an element of each STEM Sister’s skills and knowledge, into their costume: Computer Programmer Ada Lovelace has computer punch cards in her crinoline, and astronomer Hyaptia has stars in her skirt. What other character-defining elements can you see in our other STEM Sisters costumes?



Why not make an event of it and share this with your friends and family?

This is a production that can be appreciated on several levels and it is most definitely worth seeing with your children.”


Featuring puppeteers Ruth Calkin and Nix Wood, singers: Nadine Benjamin, Eloise Eisenberg, Abigail Kelly, Susan Moore, Jessica Gillingwater and the I Can Sing! Children’s Chorus, with the STEM Sisters band directed by Jenny Gould.
For ALL ages from 8+.
Streaming NOW! until 11 April. 


Find out more and BOOK tickets HERE!