My article in the recent MMA Ensemble magazine

I was pleased to be asked to contribute an article to the recent edition of the MMA’s Ensemble magazine. The article focused on the use of live streaming technologies within UCan Play’s work with NYMAZ on the Connect:Resound project.

A copy of the article can be downloaded from here.




Please consider filling in this questionnaire ...

I’ve had a request from one of our students who is now studying for a MA in Music Education. She would like responses from music teachers to help with her study into autism. She writes …

My research project concerns autism and music students at secondary school age. I am researching how teachers ensure their classroom is inclusive and allow for autistic students to engage, achieve and develop at secondary school age. My research includes secondary school music teachers, peri teachers and music teachers in special schools. 

The link to the questionnaire is here:
http://goo.gl/forms/qiwboZprPqEFPnxy1

Your participation in this questionnaire would significantly help my research in this area.
I plan to incorporate quotations and information from the questionnaires I conduct in my dissertation. This material may be seen by staff of the Open University, but it will not be used for other purposes, or disseminated more widely, without obtaining your consent separately. 

As a participant, you have the right to refuse to answer any question, for any reason. You also have the right to remain anonymous. Further, at any time up to a week after you have completed this questionnaire, you have the right to ask me to destroy the questionnaire, which I will do, and not use the material in my dissertation or for any other purpose. 

I may wish to contact you and ask you to develop your answers or find out more information. If you are happy to do this, please leave your email address at the end of the questionnaire.

 




In Praise of Music Teachers: Chatting with the good folk from the GMMH

It was lovely to be asked to give a short presentation at the Greater Manchester Music Hub annual get together at our Faculty of Education campus today. I was asked to give a talk on assessment, which I duly did, albeit following in the shadow of my good friend and colleague Martin Fautley who did the same last year!

The text of my presentation can be downloaded here for those of you that are interested. In it, I speak about one of the formative influences in my musical life (one of my music teachers – Miss Parry), the attributes of assessing music musically, and introduce a couple of metaphors to help us think about the whole process of teaching music from the inside out.




Music teachers - please respond to this request for information about music in your school

I’ve received this request from my friend Ally Daubney at the University of Sussex to help gather responses on music education from a wide range of secondary school music teachers.

Working with her colleague Duncan Mackill, Ally has recently launched an online survey to gather a longitudinal view of secondary school music provision in order to investigate and document any changes within the curriculum across Key Stages 3 and 4 (time, accessibility and models of delivery), staffing levels and uptake of music within and beyond the curriculum.

Anecdotally, numerous factors appear to impact upon music education across secondary schools; the survey aims to document changes and provide more substantive evidence and reasons for them. Ally and Duncan know from a pilot study that they carried out last year that there are a range of changes – positive, neutral and negative, so they are trying to map these and also consider reasons for possible changes.

Please could you respond to this questionnaire so that they can present a more complete picture of music education over the past five years and projecting into the 2016-17 academic year.

The link can be found at: https://sussex.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/music2012-2016

The research is led by Dr Ally Daubney and Duncan Mackrill from the Department of Education at the University of Sussex. In line with the strict ethical procedures by which this work is bound, only Ally and Duncan will have access to the data provided and you have their absolute assurance that no individuals or schools will be identifiable in any reporting.

Given the potential significance of this work and the interest which it has already generated, both Music Education Subject Associations (The Incorporated Society of Musicians and Music Mark) have taken a keen interest in the work and will be involved in reporting, publishing and sharing the findings. We are delighted that they have pulled together on this, an indication of their understanding that music in the curriculum is vitally important.

The survey is open for two months and I really hope that you have the time to get involved and help Ally and Duncan collecting this data to help inform a more constructive approach to music education in the future.




Celebrating the work of Music Education Hubs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl5ATH3eXCo

Music Education Hubs have done a range of excellent work over the last few years. It was great to see Carolyn Baxendale, leader of the GMMH, featured extensively in this ACE video that raises the profile of hubs in a helpful way.




Nick Gibb on the [non] impact of the EBacc on the arts in school

Nick Gibb’s speech at the Guildhall this week contained an interesting insight into his thinking about the EBacc and the lack of impact that this has made on the provision of arts education in our schools. Without any personal comment from me, at this point, have a read of the following excerpts:

The concern that the EBacc will drive pupils away from creative subjects at GCSE has been made vocally in the media, but proven to be unfounded. The EBacc covers a core set of 5 subject blocks – English, maths, science, humanities and languages – but this allows most pupils to choose a number of additional GCSE options. …

I do understand why some in the arts communities are concerned about accountability measures, such as the EBacc, but in my view they needn’t be. There is no reason why an academic core curriculum should in any way imperil a cultural education, or vice versa.

In fact, an academic curriculum and a cultural education can only complement each other, whether it is reading a wide range of literature; broadening your understanding of Shakespeare’s plays; giving you the historical knowledge to contextualise Picasso’s paintings; or allowing you to read Racine in the original language.

Both aspects of a child’s education can and should co-exist within every school in England. This point was explicitly made by Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education in a speech to the Creative Industries Federation in July. We want to challenge every school to make this their aim.

It is my strong personal and professional contention that the exact opposite is the case. This is why both I, and my company UCan Play, support the ISM’s Protect Music Education campaign. Perhaps more importantly, Gibb should stop and think why these 137 organisations working within the education sector also think that his policies are harming the arts, irrevocably, in our schools.

I am genuinely interested to know what is going on in your school? Are the arts flourishing as Nick Gibb suggests? Has the EBacc impacted on your work in any way at all? Please do add your comments below and let’s hear your stories of arts education under Gibb’s and Morgan’s reign.

 




Life on Shuffle

https://vimeo.com/137740008

This film shows some great work going on in Crewe through a collaboration between the fabulous Love Music Trust, Brighter Sound and Cheshire East. Life on Shuffle saw staff working with young people to help them produce a range of original music. Great stuff! Funding for the project came from Youth Music.

 




Welcome to another super group of MMU students!

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Welcome to all the new MMU students beginning courses with us this year! I hope you have a brilliant time with us and that you find the PGCE course you have chosen a stimulating and rewarding experience.

For those of you beginning the PGCE in Music and PGCE in Music with Specialist Instrumental Teaching courses, an especially warm welcome. Teaching music to young people is one of the most amazing of jobs. There is a huge amount of enjoyment that you will gain from learning how to do this well, and the young people that you teach will benefit hugely too.

In a nutshell, the course will help you to ‘teach music musically‘. This isn’t our phrase, but it does sum up the aspiration of the course as a whole. Will Evans, and I, together with all our other Associate Lecturers and colleagues, will do our upmost to help you through what will be one of the most challenging years of your lives so far!

Welcome again, and have a great year!




Making music is good for you - forever!

https://youtu.be/P4ZhqTUqstM

It was great to see CNN produce this film on the significant benefits that music education can bring to young and old alike. Our fellow music education researcher from Northwestern University, Nina Kraus, is featured in the first part of the film. Her work on ‘neural timing’ is fascinating. The benefits of learning music in childhood extend throughout one’s entire life. Practical music making from the youngest age really is good for you – forever!




Images of music education in the 1960s

Whilst I was searching for images for my previous post on the BBC Radio 4 programme The School is Full of Noises, I came across a selection of lovely images of music education in the 1960s from John Paynter’s Hear and Now book (published in 1972). I though they might be of interest to readers of this blog, although they were originally shared here.

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This photo reminded me of music and movement classes which were definitely still part of primary education in the 1970s (I remember doing them!).

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However, I don’t remember my primary school teachers being as imaginative in their cross-curricular thinking as Paynter was. In hearing about his work again in the radio programme, and reviewing some of the photographs online, I was struck at how frequently music was linked to other subjects within the curriculum. This also included locations and sites outside of the classroom, such as the Pateley Bridge cavern described at the end of the programme. It made me chuckle. The book Will Evans and I wrote and had published this year by Routledge is really only rediscovering a well travelled path.

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This picture includes R. Murray Schafer, Paynter’s friend, working with a group of pupils.

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I love the concentration on this child’s face as he ‘prepares’ this grand piano for their improvisation. How many music teachers today would let their pupils do this to their acoustic piano? And if not, why not? Funnily enough, I remember doing exactly this kind of thing with some of my friends to the grand piano in the music department at Woking Sixth Form College in the mid 1980s. I’m not sure how our music teacher, Miss Parry, responded but I’m sure there would have been a wry smile on her face.

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I also love this photo of these children working together in a group improvisation/composition. Group work has been a feature of music education here in the UK for many years. It has its problems, but there are so many advantages too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this selection of images from John Paynter’s work and publication. If you have any more, do feel free to share them in the comments or drop them over on an email to me. Thanks.