Staff and pupils at Hilton Primary School in Derbyshire very kindly agreed to road test it for us, so how did they get on?
What is a pBuzz?
Firstly, for those of you not familiar with the pBuzz, let me explain what it is. Produced by Warwick Music Group, (the makers of pBone, the world’s first plastic trombone) it is essentially a simplified version of the trombone, designed to introduce the art of brass playing to Key Stage 1 pupils. Made in the UK from light and robust plastic it has a range of six notes (C, B, Bb, A, G & F) and can be taught using musical notation, numbers or colours.
The Hilton pBuzz Project
As a brass player, with a 5 year old son who got very excited when I took one home,I was keen to see how this new instrument would work in a classroom environment. With the fantastic support of the team at Warwick Music Group and the enthusiasm of Mrs Hart (Deputy Head) and Ms Pardoe (Music Co-ordinator) at Hilton Primary School the pBuzz project was born. In September 2016 we loaned the school a class set of thirty pBuzz and with initial guidance from Chris Fower (Education Director at WMG), Ms Pardoe and her pupils embarked on their pBuzz journey. Now almost twelve months on what does she, and more importantly do the children, think of their experience with the pBuzz?
pBuzz in the Classroom
Year 1 teaching assistants at the school worked hard to teach and learn alongside the children using planning from the pBuzz website along with some of Ms Pardoe’s ideas. When asking Ms Pardoe for her initial thoughts on their progress she told me “It’s such a great resource for the children – learning a brass instrument at such a young age. It is an asset to the children’s musical understanding to use a tuned instrument. We have seen a huge improvement in the way the children listen and respond in music lessons and play together as a group.”
One of the original aims of the pBuzz was to allow non-music specialists to deliver lessons in a fun and engaging way, so it’s great to see how that works in practice with so many staff getting involved in the project.
pBuzz in Music Club
Ms Pardoe has also started using the PBuzz in her weekly music club with Year 1 & 2 children. Here’s what she had to say about that experience.
“We use it to learn about rhythm, pitch, copying patterns, playing well known tunes and cooperating and adjusting a sound to make music within a group. Our sound is improving week on week and we share our playing with one another and in concerts. The pBuzz has really brought out the confidence in some of our more reluctant musicians. There’s no shying away from the sound of the pBuzz and once the children learn to embrace it there’s no stopping them! Everyone has the chance to sing and play on their own and no-one has said no yet. We are enjoying learning about ourselves as performers – how we can play solo and together in an ensemble.”
“In a recent concert we sang, played the pBuzz and shared our cooperative rhythm work using an African drum beat. We are now looking forward to learning more notes on the PBuzz and playing some tuned pieces for our next concert.”
So what do the children think?
Of course, the most important participants in the project are the children, so what do they think of their pBuzz adventure. Here’s a few comments from pupils who have been involved over the past 12 months.
I love playing my pBuzz – I asked for one for Christmas because I wanted to practice all the time.
The sound is very loud when we all play together. I watch my friends so we can play at the same time.
I like singing and playing pBuzz in the concert because my friends and family like the sound we can make.
Playing pBuzz and marching along is my favourite thing!
Brass Players of the future?
Hopefully, getting the opportunity to experience a brass style instrument at such a young age will inspire some of the children to take their interest further. My son, Harry, has now started learning the pBone Mini and is having so much fun, although I’m not sure his elder brother and sister enjoy the noise music quite as much! I’m sure there will be others from the Hilton project that follow a similar musical path and even for those that don’t, the experience can only be described as a positive one.
I’d like to thank Ms Pardoe and the staff at Hilton Primary for their enthusiasm with the project and I’m sure they will continue to inspire musicians of the future for years to come. Thanks also to Steven and Chris from Warwick Music Group for their outstanding support of the project.
Find out more?
If you’d like to find out more about the pBuzz and how it could augment music making in your school then please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Normans team. You can also access some more useful information and resources via the following links.