HMDT Music’s Gavin Stewart completes his PhD

Gavin Stewart playing the flute


We’re extremely proud to announce that our Senior Manager, Gavin Stewart, has completed his PhD, and is now officially Dr. Gavin Stewart! Here’s what he has to say on his research:


“I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself to explore what my instrument and I can do, and this research was a natural convergence point of my practice and academic interests. This project allowed me to work with an incredible team of collaborators creating a new body of repertoire for the amazing Kingma System flute whilst developing a visual model of collaboration between performer and composer that draws together two approaches already well-explored in literature and practice. I’m really excited to start bringing these pieces to life in my performances – should you fancy a listen you can explore them here!”


Congratulations Dr. Stewart; all your hard work has paid off!

The Big Give 2024 Update!

The Big Give has officially ENDED! We are blown away by your support and would like to express our gratitude for your generous donations which have enabled us to over-reach our target and raise £10,459 for Music Treehouse which will help us ensure that we can sustain this transformative programme for children and young people with SEN/D.


We would like to share a clip from our older Music Treehouse participants’ performance from Saturday, where they were able to perform the music that they’ve been working on throughout the Spring Term for family and friends.


Tony Clark (1946-2024)

Tony Clark, 1946-2024


We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tony Clark, HMDT Music Trustee since 2003.


Tony was a recording engineer and producer who started his career at Abbey Road Studios and worked with The Beatles, Yehudi Menuhin, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and with Sir Paul McCartney on Wings, amongst others. He was also a founding member of The Brit School.


Tony was a key part of our working lives at HMDT for over 20 years and contributed hugely to all our productions and projects. He was also a friend with whom we shared many laughs and ideas, enjoyed many opportunities to see the impact our work was having on all the children who participated, and vented our frustration together at the short-sightedness of elements of society that didn’t understand its value.


Tony recorded and produced our large-scale theatre productions: On London Fields, Hear Our Voice, Confucius Says, Shadowball and The Brown Bomber enabling us to offer all the performers an incredibly high-quality memory of their experience and for HMDT to be able to showcase our work in style. We had such fun together recording our storybook An Invite from the Queen which allowed us to really see Tony in his element in the recording studio, but he also gave his time and skills to setting up equipment to record in schools, rehearsal rooms and wherever else we needed them. Nothing was ever too much for him and his belief in what we were doing and his boundless enthusiasm helped us ride the tide of all difficulties.


Tony was a man full of love; for his family and friends but also for music and his commitment and beliefs in the impact it could have on wellbeing, creativity, skills and the better good for us all as human beings.


We will miss Tony greatly and are immensely grateful for all the many generous gifts he gave us through his work, warmth and friendship.


Photo: Tony in rehearsal for On London Fields in 2004

The Big Give 2024

From 19-26 March, HMDT Music will be taking part in The Big Give ‘Arts for Impact Appeal’, a funding initiative for charities. Through the Big Give, we are able to raise up to £5,000 and have the total funds raised doubled through match funding!


We will be raising money for Music Treehouse; our weekly creative music making project for SEN/D children with a wide range of mild to severe, profound and complex needs. Since 2015, Music Treehouse has offered a much-needed means of social interaction and skills development in a fun and secure environment, supported by a team of skilled specialist practitioners, including a music therapist.


To ensure Music Treehouse continues to be accessible for everyone, we rely on the support of funding and donations and would greatly appreciate any contributions. Please help us in supporting this campaign by sharing our posts on social media with your friends and family!


Click here to visit our campaign page and find out more information.



Meet us at the Music & Drama Expo 2024

Next week on 22nd and 23rd February, HMDT Music will be exhibiting at The Music and Drama Expo at the Business Design Centre in Islington! Come and meet us at stand A62 to find out more about our schools’ workshops, Saturday Programme and community project, One Spirit.


On 23rd February in the Seminar Theatre from 11:00 – 11:45, our CEO and Creative Director, Tertia Sefton-Green and Composer and Music Educator Vahan Salorian, will give an introduction and practical demonstration of the E Project; our inclusive education initiative using the arts to embed diversity across the primary school curriculum.


Follow the link below to register for the Music and Drama Expo 2024. We look forward to seeing you there! #MDEE24

Shakespeare Days of Performance 2023

Last month saw the 9th year of our annual Shakespeare Days of Performance, which we devise for Creative Education Trust, which brings together 11 schools across the Midlands and Great Yarmouth who each produce a half hour Shakespeare production. These schools then come together to perform their productions over two days at Abbeyfield School in Northampton.

Each school is given a day of vocal delivery and textual interpretation with actor, Ryan Early, and design workshops with Mark Friend in order to develop, create and make props for their performances which are produced with school staff.

This year’s highlights included a Carnival inspired Merchant of Venice, a Steampunk Victorian factory setting of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Taming of the Shrew reflecting history’s oppression of women and a futuristic Macbeth, in a world torn apart by nuclear war.

HMDT Music’s E Project


HMDT Music’s E Project sets out to empower, enrich, equalise, expand, embed, engage, and evaluate through the creation of an arts-embedded curriculum focusing on themes and issues of inclusion, diversity, racial inequality and anti-racism. Over three years primary schools in Stoke on Trent, Lytham St Anne’s, Luton and Hackney are receiving drama, art and music workshops delivered by guest artists who link curriculum topics and HMDT projects such as Trench Brothers, Shadowball, Hear Our Voice, STEM Sisters and An Invite from the Queen, in order to build a bank of resources for long term use.


In recent workshops, our workshop leaders have explored themes of racism, Antisemitism and discrimination with the participating E Project schools. Through the lens of Hear Our Voice, students have explored the experiences of Jewish children during the Holocaust, what it would have felt like to leave their home behind and move to the ghetto, and the resilience they showed when faced with moving to the concentration camps. During this workshop, students created portraits relating to identity and the appalling treatment of people stripped of their sense of self during the Holocaust in addition to techniques such as automatic drawing, drawing continuously to poetry and music.



One of our workshop leaders, Sophie Gresswell, expressed that:

“The artworks pupils made during a poem reading of To Belzec, written by a child during the Holocaust, were very moving. In the world we live in it can be rare for us to take a calm moment like this to reflect, the artworks the classes made show the importance of art in processing our emotions and experiences. One teacher commented that she would use the technique again in her lessons, and I heard a pupil say they would draw more after the session”.

In another recent workshop, students explored Floella Benjamin’s early life in Trinidad, giving thought to her home, cultural celebrations, and schooling. As a class, they then created a soundscape to accompany her journey to England, focusing on her hopes and fears and exploring the differences between her expectations of England and the reality of the life and the racism she faced here.


More here > The E Project


JJJA Students Accepted to Prestigious Purcell Music School

This academic year, Otto Jacovides & Jacob Deegan began studying at the Purcell School of Music, one of the country’s finest musical education institutions which boasts alumni such as Jacob Collier and Yiruma. Both students are long-term members of the Saturday Programme, starting their journeys in CYMH classes – Otto in Green and Jacob in Jazz Blues -before advancing through to the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.


Both students are incredibly talented instrumentalists; Otto excels in saxophone and clarinet; and Jacob is a self-taught drummer who reached grade 8 in only two years, alongside playing trumpet and piano. Jacob and Otto both highlight the importance of attending JJJA on their success, with Jacob stating that “JJJA has shown me the career that I want; the faculty have not only pushed and inspired me but supported and taught me to recognise the downside of being a musician, where it is not always an upward trajectory”. Otto also expressed that JJJA is his ‘musical family” and stated, “the teachers at JJJA are amazingly supportive and helped to develop my confidence by teaching me to play in different groups, as well as encouraging me to play in front of people when I didn’t want to, which I now don’t have a problem with!”.


JJJA tutor, Alex Thomas-French, who has supported both Otto and Jacob throughout their jazz journey, stated:

“At JJJA we work hard to cultivate an inclusive community of jazz-minded people where students of all ages and abilities collaborate and grow together. Here, students get to know and play alongside many other highly talented and inspiring young musicians, and it continues to humble us to see that bright young people like Jacob and Otto reach greater heights because of this environment. We are immensely proud of both of them for all their various achievements and the challenges they have both had to overcome to get to this point. We also applaud the hard work we know their parents have put into supporting Jacob and Otto’s musical passions. Well done all!”


All of us here at HMDT Music and JJJA wish Otto and Jacob the best in their new venture and we look forward to watching them flourish as musicians in the coming years!

HMDT Music introduces: The E Project




We’re excited to launch the E Project which sees us working with primary schools in Luton, Stoke-on-Trent, Fylde and Hackney for 3 years to develop an arts-embedded curriculum focused on anti-racism, diversity, inclusion and equity. Big thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for making this exciting journey of workshops, CPD training and curriculum development possible.

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.