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The MiSST Story

Our Beginnings
MiSST was founded in 2013 after several years of development at Highbury Grove School. From inauspicious beginnings, the methods that became the Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme were key in transforming outcomes at the school. MiSST has now provided opportunities to over 20,000 students and improves educational and social outcomes through the provision of classical instruments and expert tuition.

In 2006 Truda White is Headteacher at Highbury Grove School, Truda took the school on when it was struggling to achieve good outcomes for its students. During a study visit to The Bronx, New York, she sees a whole class string programme that, for the young people, is having a transformational effect. Inspired by this she aims to develop a similar programme in her school. There are few resources, no scheme to follow and whilst initially students are enthusiastic, they quickly lose interest once they realise that mastering a classical instrument requires regular practice.

A chance meeting and a passionate pitch set the scene for the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust to become involved by providing regular and significant funding to develop a classical music programme. In 2007 Highbury Grove is judged by Ofsted to be a good school and in 2010 said 'Highbury Grove is an outstandingly effective school'. In particular they note the outstanding extra provision offered in music.

In July 2012 Truda White retires as Headteacher

In the Autumn Term 2012 Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber mentions Highbury Grove in the House of Lords in relation to the impact on music and arts provision more widely of the EBacc. He is invited to the school.

Following this visit, an application to the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation is successful and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust agree to match the funding secured. There is now enough money for 4 schools to have a full classical music programme.

The Music in Secondary Schools Trust launches in April 2013 with the belief that children and young people's lives could be transformed through high quality music education.

The Lister Community School in Newham becomes the first school to join Highbury Grove as a partner in the newly-formed charity.

MiSST is approached by the Brewers' Livery Company, who manage the finances of the Dame Alice Owen Foundation. The DAOF supports Islington schools to improve outcomes for young people. Their proposal is for every Islington secondary schools to have the opportunity to run the music programme, for a period of 4 years.

Funding from the DAOF, through the Brewers' is agreed in principle over a 10-year period.

The National Youth Orchestra of GB begin a partnership with MiSST to showcase the work of the orchestra in school and to work alongside teenagers. The in-school residency is a huge success with many young people inspired to practice even more!

See film - 4 minutes

4 new schools become part of MiSST – Sedgehill, Frederick Bremer, Mount Carmel and Islington Arts and Media School. MiSST is now in 4 Local Authorities and there are 1700 students on the ALW Programme

May 2015 sees the inaugural concert of MiSST at the Barbican bringing together over 300 musicians to perform with and alongside Nicola Benedetti. A student from Frederick Bremer says: “Playing at the Barbican was a great opportunity especially playing beside Nicola Benedetti and making friends with other pupils from other schools.”

See film – 5 minutes

The year begins with 12 MiSST students playing with Nicola Benedetti at the Royal Albert hall. 4000 people are in the audience.

St Mary Magdalene Academy Islington becomes MiSST's next partner and the New North Academy primary school partner with us to trial and develop a primary programme. Almost 300 young people are now receiving regular group tuition.

May 2016: Prince Charles is inducted into the Brewers' Livery Company and MiSST students are invited to meet him to talk about their music.

June 2016: HM the Queen visits Lister Community School and MiSST students have a once in a lifetime chance to perform for HM, alongside the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. This is an amazing experience for all students and staff.

Later that month MiSST's annual Concert is held at Goldsmiths – University of London. A feature of the event is a portrait exhibition called Challenge and Change. 12 portrait photographs are taken by Leonora Saunders of students with their instruments in unusual locations around London to challenge the notion that classical music is not for everyone.

85 students attend the second Radley Residential.

August 2016: Deronne White is accepted at the Royal College of Music See film - 4 minutes

In September 2016 Holloway School becomes a partner and MiSST launches a Saturday Music School for our highest achieving students, and welcomes its first cohort of peripatetic tutors to our Certificate for Music Educators course.

October 2016 sees the 30th Anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera which is celebrated with a very special charity gala performance in aid of MiSST. The event is phenomenal.

January 2017, 22 students have a 'sleep-out' to raise money for Centre Point. Over £2,500 is raised by the young people and donors match this so giving Centre Point a cheque for £5,000.

April 2017, the 4th NYO residency is held at Lister and Mount Carmel School. They are joined by students from Frederick Bremer and St Mary Magdalene Academy. This is another huge success for all the students who took part.

In June 2017, MiSST students come together to perform at the LSO St. Luke's. The standard is high and repertoire included Palladio by Jenkins, a Mozart piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky's violin concerto.

In July 2017, 115 MiSST students attend a 4-day orchestral residency at Radley College.

See film - 3 minutes

In September, Whitefield School Barnet and Samuel Rhodes Special School Islington join the MiSST family. Arts and Media School Islington become our first alumni school, taking responsibility for the programme and developing ensemble player further.

Nicola Benedetti joins MiSST students for 3 days of workshops which raises the standard of playing considerably. Encouraged and inspired, more young people join the Saturday Music School.

December 2017 the first MiSST Leadership Weekend takes place in partnership with Outward Bound. 12 teenagers travel to the Lake District.

There are now 3700 young people on the programme and a reach of more than 5000.

This academic year sees MiSST reach 5 years in operation with an anniversary birthday concert at the London palladium on 23 April 2018.

In June 2018 Rachel Landon was appointed CEO of MiSST

The annual MiSST Radley Residential expanded this year for it's fourth instalment, taking 240 students over a 10-day period.

See film - 5 minutes

In September, Central Foundation Boys School and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School become MiSST partner schools.

The 6th Annual Concert this year was held at Cadogan Hall and saw all of our schools represented. The concert celebrated our work that had taken place with The Pico Players at Saturday School earlier in the school year. 

The Pico Players are an amauteur symphony orchestra based in central London, it was fantastic for MiSST children to play side by side with the Pico Players. The children at Saturday Music school were particularly impressed when the players took a workshop with them explaining how music is their passion but they also have other jobs such as lawyers, teachers and nurses.

See film - 5 minutes

In September 2019 we welcomed two new schools to the MiSST programme, Nicholas Chamberlaine and Harris Academy Peckham.

Nicholas Chamberlaine is a school in bedworth, Coventry and is MiSST's first school outside of London.

We now have 4,445 students on the Andrew Lloyed Webber programme and a reach of over 8000 young people to date.

We have developed a new leadership orchestra called MILO (MiSST Leaders Orchestra). The aim is to offer talented students who have been in MiSST partner schools the opportunity to play at a standard of at least Grade 5, whilst developing leadership skills.

Our MiSST together programme has had another successful term giving students the opportunity to play in an orchestral setting with peers from other MiSST schools.

See films:
MiSST in Schools

MiSST on BBC Middlands Today

This was a challenging year for all due to the CoronaVirus pandemic but MiSST is now in the North of England in Oldham with The Radclyffe School and Hathershaw College, both becoming MiSST Schools. We also welcomed The Sydney Russell School to the MiSST family and extended our support to children suffering with Mental Health needs at The Chelsea Community Hospital School.

MiSST at Home is launched to enable children to continue with the Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme.

MiSST at Home Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme: We have delivered the curriculum lessons to years 7, 8 and 9 via video lessons uploaded to YouTube. Our team has recorded over 350 video lessons that include theory, instrumental, singing and ensemble tutorials that cover all that would have been taught on the curriculum. Each school has used these lessons to support their online and in school teaching. MiSST partners with Kinteract which is a virtual learning platform to ensure students can access all resources with ease. 

MiSST at Home SMS: After a short period when we were able to run Saturday School in person we had to go back to a virtual set up this time using zoom. We devised a plan in which students would each have 30 minutes of one-on-one time with their sectional tutor each week. During each session, they worked on sections of the chosen piece with their tutors and then went off to record what they had practised. This culminated in a fantastic virtual performance that was featured in our virtual celebration. The feedback from students and tutors was that this format worked very well for all. Students have benefited from having one on one time with the tutors and have all shown huge progress during this time. 

MiSST Together at Home: To replace our MiSST Together programme, tutors and MiSST leaders created tutorial videos to take students through Mambo No. 5. Students then recorded their parts which were collated into a virtual orchestra and showcased at our virtual concert. The younger students were given the structure they needed to keep motivated and focused and the student leaders had the opportunity to harness leadership and teaching skills. 

MiSST Virtual Concert : ' A celebration of music through lockdown' aired in March 2021. The video told the story of all the fantastic music our students have played throughout the pandemic and included two pieces from MiSST together and Saturday Music School. We had very positive feedback from parents, students, teachers and supporters all praising the technical effort that went into producing the video and all moved by the sentiment of the celebration and quality of music-making. 

Visit our YouTube channel to watch the celebration! 

See film - 31 minutes

This year saw MiSST in Middlesbrough at King’s Academy, where all of the 240 children in Year 7 have learnt to play the violin for the first time. MiSST together with Middlesbrough Council have granted money to ensure children in this area have the opportunity to be a MiSST School. 

We also welcomed Platanos College in Stockwell and The Harris Invictus Academy in Croydon and The Chelsea Community Hospital School in Chelsea. Numbers of children on the MiSST programme this year is 8030 students and our reach is 14,510 students.

We hosted our 9th Annual Concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank on March 3rd 2022 which was absolutely fantastic, our best concert so far.

MiSST’s Choir performed with Jason Donovan and Andrew Lloyd Webber in June for The Queen’s Jubilee outside Buckingham Palace, the children also recorded a single on the back of this at Abbey Road Studios.

See film - 3 minutes

Our 10th year sees 5 more schools welcoming the Andrew Lloyd Webber programme to their schools. We welcome The Bourne Academy in Bournemouth, The Furness Academy in Cumbria, The Grange School in Dorset, The Outwood Academy Riverside in Middlesbrough and Barnsley Academy in Yorkshire. 

We’re already off to a fantastic start having all of our MiSST lead links join us at the MiSST Annual Conference in June. Before the summer closed, several schools with 200 music students came to the annual residential week at Greshams School in Holt, Norfolk; they made friends, enjoyed progressing in their musical ability and ate all the yummy food.

We also celebrated with you at our 10th Anniversary Concert on April 24th, launching the MiSST Music Academy in London, forging progression pathways throughout the UK and partnering with more schools for 2023-24.

Having celebrated our tenth anniversary, the team are now in the early planning stages of our 11th annual concert, as well as our annual residency. This year we welcome 3 more schools to the Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme; Thomas Middlecott Academy, Boston, Essa Academy Bolton and Dormers Wells High School, Southall.

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