Project Overview

Music Lab is an action research partnership programme between NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and The Sage Gateshead which ran over two years, to explore the question:

How can teachers and musicians work together to improve the learning of KS3 learners in Science?

Working with four secondary schools, we established a research team of music specialists and teachers from STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) from the participating schools, led by senior members of The Sage Gateshead’s Learning and Participation team with secondary schools and teacher training expertise. We co-devised a set of delivery projects designed to experiment with effective practical strategies and approaches for enriching and transforming STEM teaching with insights and approaches from music learning and participatory practice.

The work was modular, enabling insights to be captured and incorporated into the programme as it progressed (working in classic action research cycles).


Following analysis, the findings from the project were categorised under four themes. These themes describe the different features and outcomes of the teaching and learning practice that arose as a consequence of the project and that were identified as being significant by participating teachers, musicians and pupils.

  1. Choice making and ownership of learning (and motivation)
  2. Active multi-sensory learning
  3. Collaborative relationships
  4. Challenge, risk and the unknown