Music Makers (radio)
Music Makers (radio) is a BBC schools radio series from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, covering Music for primary and secondary school pupils.
Music Makers uses fun and generally comic musical productions to encourage children to join in singing, playing and composing music. Over the course of a school term a single production would be introduced, including six (in the summer term) or seven (in autumn and spring) songs and a linking story, and then performed in full at the end of term.
Generally the autumn term provided a production which could be mounted as an end-of-term entertainment by the school, the spring term a more contemporary story which could be linked to project work, and the summer term an entertaining story with a message.
You can read the storyline and a basic overview of every single one of the 23 units produced for Music Makers in the episode guide below. Each story has its own page.
The title Music Makers had already been used for a BBC schools TV series in the late 1950s and would be used again for a 1990s BBC schools TV series. Meanwhile the similarly titled Making Music had been a successful BBC schools TV series for the same audience of upper juniors that the radio series aimed for, in the 1960s and early 70s.
In a typical episode they would introduce one of the songs from the pupils' pamphlet and sing through a couple of verses, then go through some percussion accompaniments, accompanied by a school choir from London or the Home Counties. They would come back to later verses of the same song in a subsequent programme, and sometimes ask listeners to improvise their own percussion accompaniments.
Each episode also contained a 'magazine feature', reporting on the history or other elements of music and playing samples from different eras and artists. At the end of the broadcast a 'Quiz Time' would ask listeners two or three questions about the magazine content. In the programme's first year the magazine content was structured as a "musical A-Z" covering musical items starting with each letter of the alphabet in turn (A is for alphorns, B is for bell-ringing etc), covered by the presenters themselves and with answers to the quiz questions given the following week. For the final decade the magazine and quiz segments were presented by Stephen Jones, also the pianist for the series. Stephen would give the answers to the quiz questions shortly after posing them so that children could record their own scores, and add up their scores over the course of the whole academic year.
The final two episodes of each autumn and spring term would consist of a full radio performance of the term's production in two acts, so occupying around 40 minutes in total. These used professional BBC radio actors and full musical production, often quite different from the piano-and-percussion songs performed during the earlier broadcasts of the term. The shorter summer term productions would likewise be performed at the end of term, but in one single episode.
BBC school radio had developed Music Workshop since 1964 as a series building up musical productions as a way to encourage junior children to join in with singing and playing music. In 1966 Music Workshop had been split into two parallel series, Music Workshop Stage One for the existing audience of 8-10 year-olds, and Music Workshop Stage Two for 10-12 year-old.
In 1975 the programmes were re-branded so that Music Workshop continued to serve 8-10s, while the series for 10-12 year-olds became Music Makers. At the same time the long running Movement and Music Stage One and Stage Two series were likewise rebranded to remove the "Stage" designations, as Let's Move and Time to Move respectively.
Music Makers retained a stong link with Music Workshop, facilitated by the fact that Peter Hutchings produced both series simultaneously and Ian Huphris presented both. Several writers and lyricists worked across both series, the teachers' notes for each would refer to the "companion series" in those terms, and one particular production of Rumpelstiltskin which was first mounted on Music Workshop in 1978, was remounted in a new version on Music Makers in 1987.
With the introduction of the National Curriculum in England and Wales and the downsizing of the dedicated BBC school radio department at the same time, Music Makers came to an end in 1990. Listeners were directed back to the continuing Music Workshop series which adopted a new approach and expanded its target audience to the entire junior school range.
According to a 1998 BBC News story, the 7-year-old Prince William, heir to the British throne, appeared in his school's production of The Saga of Erik Nobeard, or A Viking Nonetheless, the Music Makers unit from 1988. The book William: HRH Prince William of Wales by Tim Graham & Peter Archer further reveals that Princess Diana watched the play, and that William played the part of "Sago the Skald", who is the King's saga-singer and
If you can provide any of the missing pamphlet covers (or better quality copies of some of the dodgier ones) please get in touch by email.
Click on any picture below to see a larger version, or click on the term or unit title to read more about the unit including an outline of the story, credits and in many cases pictures of the teachers' notes, acting scripts and other resources.
|Introduced by||Ian Humphris|
|and||Mari Griffith, |
Helen Speirs, or
|Stories and lyrics by||R. D. Ward, |
|Music by||Peter Hutchings, |
Some random programmes for age 9-11 from the 1990s
|Channel 4 Schools|
|Facal A Leabhar|
|BBC Schools Radio|
|Living with Technology|
|Channel 4 Schools|
|Thunderbirds in Hindi|
|BBC Schools TV|