Category Archives: Music Education

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:

ace_funding

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.

What counts as music technology?

I read this quote in a chapter I’m reviewing today:

The violin bow and the saxophone mouthpiece are perhaps the most expressive pieces of music technology in Western history yet composers and virtuoso performers did not undertake courses in these technologies. To understand them they actively explore what the expressive capabilities of these technologies enable, what they revealed and concealed to us as musicians.

It comes from the work of Steve Dillon, my friend who passed away a couple of years ago. I miss him and his brilliant take on music education, technology and life in general.

This quote comes from the his 2007 book, Music, Meaning and Transformation: Meaningful Music Making for Life published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (p.80).

“Learning music is a birthright”, Sir Simon Rattle

simon_rattleHave you been listening to the Proms at all this year? One of the world’s greatest conductors, Sir Simon Rattle, is conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in two concerts this week.

Simon Rattle is from Liverpool. His dad was a jazz pianist and he learnt percussion as a youngster. When interviewed on Desert Island Discs, he recalled his music teacher playing him an excerpt from a Mahler symphony in a music lesson aged about 11. This was a transformative moment for him and his tremendous love and passion for all musical styles is obvious for everyone to see.

He has also have some interesting views on music education. In his interview with the Guardian over the weekend, he said this:

… the entire issue of music education is becoming an ever bigger issue all over Europe. Apart from the obvious cultural value, employers want people who can work in teams, think laterally and not in straight lines, all of which music gives you in spades. A free music education was one of the glories of the UK when I was a child. Too much has been sacrificed in the name of economic necessity. Learning music is a birthright. And you have to start young. 

I agree completely with this. Music education offers so much to us all, whatever our age. Learning music is an essential and integral part of all our education, throughout our lives. But this is particularly true for our children as they develop physically, psychologically and socially.

Our new music education centre opens in Sandbach this week. At Ohana Music we have structured our programmes in terms of its content and fees to ensure that music education is affordable, enjoyable and social. Learning music together is the best way to learn music.

‘Ohana’ is a Hawaiian word meaning ‘family’ or ‘group’ where everyone learns and supports each other. It emphasises the notion that we are bound together as human beings and that we must not forget each other as we work together. It was a concept that was famously bought to live in the Disney film Lilo & Stitch:

This notion is central to our work at Ohana Music. Our new music space opens on Saturday 6th September at 9am. Do come along, meet us, share some refreshments and have a look at our new facilities. But most importantly, come and learn music together with us. Whatever your age,  I invite you to come, discover or share your passion for music as part of our supportive community.