Category Archives: Music Education

Sounds in the Cloud: Is music education too important to outsource to the cloud?

Morris’ post-doctoral paper ‘Sounds in the Cloud: Cloud computing and the digital music community‘, written in 2008, is remarkable prescient. At an early stage in the development of the cloud, it explores the technological and cultural implications of cloud-based music, how the cloud itself is leading to the commodification of music (and not in a good way), and how our relationship to music is changing as a result. Through the adoption of various metaphors and an analysis of [then] current trends, Morris is pretty scathing. Firstly, he argues, the cloud fundamentally changes our relationship to music itself:

[Music] is now part of a network of technologies and blended into a multi-mediated computing experience. Phones come with music, as do Web sites, video games and new cars. CDs are routinely given away in newspapers and magazines as promotions (Straw, 2009). Social networking sites, search engines, and other such technologies use online digital music as a draw for their services. Rather than a commodity of its own, music is integrated into so many diverse services that it becomes difficult to talk about music as a specific experience at all. Music appears to be ubiquitous: it is both everywhere and nowhere. [my emphasis] Continue reading

Many LA’s are slashing their budgets for music services from April 2015

The Classical Music magazine are reporting huge cuts to the budgets of music services across the UK, including in Wiltshire (£140k cut) and Bromley (a planned cut of £305k over two years). In Redbridge, councillors planned to cut £166k from the music service budget but this was overturned following a public protest. Today, via Twitter, I have received further news that last night Kirklees councillors have voted through large cuts of £300k to Kirklees Music School in Huddersfield. Through other work that I’m doing, I am also aware that there are large cuts to the LA budget for music services in many other parts of the country that have not been announced yet.

Regular readers of this blog will know that this is something that I alerted you all to some time ago, in posts such as this and this. Continue reading

GUEST LECTURE: Andrew Curren, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Faculty of Education, Birley Fields, MMU Thursday 12th March, 10.00 – 3.00pm

andrew-curran-publicity-photoWe are delighted to welcome Andrew Curran, a Consultant Paediatric Neurologist working at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, to the Faculty of Education, MMU. Andrew is committed to using his extraordinary knowledge of the workings of the human brain to make a difference in the educational experience of all young people. He believes passionately in the importance of understanding the individual, connecting with them emotionally and leading them into self directed learning. His book, the Little Book of Big Stuff about the Brain (published by Crown House Publishing), is recognised as one of the leading books about understanding brain based learning and the importance of emo- tional literacy in our classrooms and in our lives.

Andrew will be delivering two guest lectures during the day.

Lecture 1, 10.00 – 12.30, Birley Fields G.44

Andrew’s morning session will explore the brain, its neurology and how this impacts on a child’s learning. In Andrew’s words …

What is the message that I am delivering through many years of studying the neurobiology of the human brain that appeals to so many people? It’s really very simple.

If each child in front of you feels understood, then this is good for their self esteem. If these two things are happening then the child will feel self-confident. And if these three things are extant the child will be emotionally engaged with learning. And if that happens, then the child’s brain is neurobiologically optimised for learning.

Lecture 2, 1.15 – 2.45, BirleyFields 2.51

In the afternoon session, Andrew will predominantly focus on the brain and music, considering how the two interrelate and the consequences of this for teaching and learning about music. Andrew brings a unique perspective to this through his own work as a singer/songwriter.

All are welcome to either session. BUT …

Please email Dr Jonathan Savage (j.savage@mmu.ac.uk) to confirm your attendance.

Space is limited.

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Music Education Hub funding announced for 2015/16

In what is a busy news day for music education, the next round of funding for the music education hubs has been announced by Arts Council England. The full details, including a spreadsheet of funding for each music education hub, can be found here.

The announcement is matched with a new report from ACE called ‘Ensuring Quality‘. This will be essential reading for all leaders of music education hubs.

We were also pleased to see that the Greater Manchester Music Hub is named checked by ACE in terms of the work they have done in developing their youth ensembles.

New A & AS Level and GCSE Music subject content announced today

The Government have released the new GCSE Music subject content today. The link to the guidance is here or you can download the Music .pdf file here.

The AS and A Level Music subject content has also been released. Details from here and the specific file can be downloaded here.

It will be interesting to hear what teachers make of these guidelines. The general consensus in the music education community to this point is that they are going to be intensely problematic. The preoccupation with staff notation and Western Classical music (only between the years of 1650 and 1910) both remain in the formal guidance. Time will tell.

Additionally, the Government have published their equality and impact study here, and their general response to the ‘reform’ process here.

Funding for music education hubs for 2015/16 announced

Following on from the announcement yesterday that Darren Henley is to take control of Arts Council England, funding for music education hubs was announced today for the period from 2015 – 16. This will follow the existing formula, together with a distribution of an additional £17m (the precise way in which this will be distributed is to be confirmed at a later date, although I have heard rumours that a significant percentage of this will support new or innovative approaches to music education – whatever that means).

I’m not sure if Henley’s new post and this announcement are linked in any way, but it is good news nonetheless. Here’s the full ACE announcement made today:

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Darren Henley takes over as Chief Executive of Arts Council England

henleyDarren Henley has been appointed as chief executive of Arts Council England, replacing Alan Davey who recently took over a new position as controller of Radio 3.

Darren Henley is well known to those of us working in music education having led the Government’s review into music education which resulted in the establishment of the National Plan for Music Education. He also conducted a similar review into the provision of arts education.

Darren takes over control of Arts Council England at a difficult time. Many commentators are predicting further significant cuts in their budget whoever comes to power in next year’s general election. Arts Council England has already lost around a third of its total Government funding and has had to implement a 50% reduction in administration costs over the last few years.

The position of music education hubs is also precarious. There is no news of precise funding levels for the period from April 2015 onwards despite there being a commitment to additional funding. Arts Council England are demanding new budgets from every music education hub in early January despite hubs not knowing what their allocated funding is. This is clearly ridiculous.

However, it is important to remember that the funding for music education hubs does not come from the Arts Council directly. It is funding that is paid by the DfE to the Arts Council. My understanding is that the Arts Council has still to receive notification from the DfE about the funding being made available for hubs despite their constant requests for clarification and further information.

Looking further forwards, there is no additional information for any funding for music education hubs from April 2016 despite the National Plan for Music Education covering the period to 2020.

Many music education hubs are in a fragile state. My understanding is that many are facing yearly deficits and having to access funding from their reserves as Local Authority and other sources of funding are diminishing. The political and financial uncertainty caused by all of this is worrying. It really is a shoddy way to run music education in this country. Let’s hope that Darren’s appointment to this new role will sharpen up the relationship between ACE and the DfE and lead to a period of more stability where hubs can plan confidently and effectively for the future of music education in their local areas.

Is there a looming teacher shortage for September 2015?

I’ve enjoyed reading John Howson’s blog. His analytical take around the number of teachers that we, as a country, need is incisive and informative.

The release of the ITT census a week or so ago was given the ‘Howson treatment’ in this post. I’d strongly encourage anyone with an interest in teacher education to read it. If you are a parent concerned about your child’s education perhaps you should read it too. We are heading for a major shortage of qualified teachers in many subject areas. We are at least 1,300 secondary school teachers short across the country. There is also a 7% shortfall in primary school teachers this year.

As someone with an interest in music education, one key fact stood out for me from the post. Across the country only 81% of planned training places were filled. Regular reads of this blog will remember that the MMU Music courses for a September 2014 start were filled well in advance; in July we received a panic email from the DfE asking us to fill an additional 7 places. We were able to do this. Through discussions with other colleagues across the country I’ve found out that many universities received a similar request. Many of them were not willing to reopen courses.

This chaotic, piecemeal approach to the training of our teachers is pretty shoddy. It is certainly not helped by this government’s preoccupation with Schools Direct. Howson’s analysis shows us that Schools Direct only manages to recruit 61% of total places. SCITTS only managed 79%. HEI led courses recruited 90% of their allocation. I am constantly amazed that the DfE seems determined to pursue a policy of school-based training provision like this when the evidence shows clearly that it is poorer quality, patchy in terms of its provision, and pedagogical and intellectually weaker in many aspects compared with HEI-led programmes.

 

 

Launch of 2015 NCEM Young Composers Award

The 2015 NCEM Young Composers Award will be launched on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show at 2pm this coming Sunday, 30 November.

This major national award is presented by the National Centre for Early Music and BBC Radio 3 in partnership with Scotland’s leading baroque ensemble, the award-winning Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt.

Composers are invited to create new settings for a short dramatic scene from either Orfeo or Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. Both works were originally set to music by Claudio Monteverdi, the composer who brought a new dramatic life to the relationship between words and music. The new work will be for two or three singers accompanied by a small ensemble of baroque instruments.

The award is open to young composers resident in the UK in two age categories: 18 years and under; and 19 to 25 years.

Applicants must register their interest in the award by emailing the National Centre for Early Music at education@ncem.co.uk by Friday 20 February, stating which age category they wish to enter. Completed scores must be delivered to the NCEM by Friday 20 March. The award will be judged in York on Thursday 14 May, when a shortlist of entries will be presented by the Dunedin Consort in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox at the National Centre for Early Music. That evening, the Dunedin Consort will perform each of the pieces in front of a panel of judges in a public concert, after which the two winners will be announced, one for each of the two age categories.

The two winning compositions will be performed by the Dunedin Consort in a public concert and recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

For full details, Terms and Conditions and application forms, visit the NCEM website at www.ncem.co.uk/composersaward2015.

The Love Music Trust Spring Conference is on the 28th January 2015 with Robin Hammerton

The Love Music Trust have announced their spring conference featuring a guest lecture and discussion with Robin Hammerton, OFSTED’s lead HMI for Music. This will be a superb event held at the Lifestyle Centre in Winford. Delegates from Cheshire East and Cheshire West schools will be attending. In addition to Robin’s presentation, the programme of other events during the day will be fascinating and will, no doubt, stimulate a lot of discussion about what constitutes a quality approach to music education in our schools.

I’d highly recommend the event and the costs of attending are very reasonable. You can read more about the event here and a booking form can be downloaded here.