Category Archives: Personal

Today, we are celebrating the career of Geoff Reed – a distinguished colleague and great friend

I’ve never been a fan of honorary doctorates. On the many occasions that I’ve sat on the Bridgewater Hall stage for MMU graduation ceremonies, I’ve seen them given out to various celebrities and wondered why they deserve the conferment of an academic award for basically doing the day job. Also, as someone who worked hard to get a PhD in the proper way (none of the PhD by publication rubbish that’s becoming popular nowadays), I suppose my view is that you need to work hard to get this qualification (actually, work really hard) and not just be dished one out to add to your collection of gongs. I know that sounds a bit petty.

This morning, at MMU’s Faculty of Education graduation event at the Bridgewater Hall, things will be different; very different. In this morning’s event, my friend and colleague Geoff Reed will receive his honorary doctorate.

Geoff has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a music educator. During the final part of this, over the last ten years, he has been working at the RNCM in collaboration with MMU supporting our PGCE in Music and PGCE in Music with Specialist Instrumental Teaching courses.  He has worked tirelessly with hundreds of MMU’s students in this role . His warmth, wise counsel and humanity have shone through all his dealings with them.

For myself, Will and Jane, as a team of MMU tutors, Geoff has been an outstanding colleague. His advocacy for music education never fades and his commitment to provide the very best quality educational experience for our students has never dipped. At a personal level, we have all benefited from his broad perspective and wisdom on all matters to do with music education within higher education, schools and music services. Geoff is widely respected within the field of music education across the United Kingdom and Europe, through the Association of European Conservatories.

Geoff is a quiet and humble man. He would never have put himself forward for an award such as this. However, it was our belief that he would be an ideal candidate to be recognised in this way because of his:

  • Commitment to high quality music education of the highest order shown throughout his career at various schools, Sefton Music Service and latterly at the RNCM;
  • Collegial approach to working with and supporting MMU staff in the most constructive and positive manner;
  • Advocacy for MMU students and staff through our long standing collaborative engagement with the RNCM;
  • Wonderful humanity that has shined through all our work with him. This will be testified to by a huge range of other colleagues, musicians and educators .

This event marks the end of Geoff’s career. He is retiring shortly from the RNCM. I am pleased that we are marking this by honouring Geoff with this award. It is full deserved. Unlike so many who dabble in initial teacher education today, Geoff understands deeply how the process of initial teacher works and how vital the role of the university is in caring for and nurturing students through this process . His wisdom and counsel has been a daily inspiration to us.

Congratulations on your retirement Geoff. Enjoy being Dr Reed. It is well deserved.  We will miss you.


Elliot Eisner


I’m very sorry to report the recent passing of Elliot Eisner. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933, Elliot taught at Stanford University for 42 years and was the Lee Jacks Emeritus Professor of Education and Art. For me, Elliot Eisner was one of the world’s leading advocates of arts education. His writing, research and advocacy is an inspiration. His expertise and genuine warmth shone through all his work. He dealt with complex ideas with a clarity and precise through an engaging style that captured my interest and that of thousands of others across the world. His book, The Arts and the Creation of Mind, is one single book that I would recommend all young teachers read. It’s powerful prose contains many, many insights that are worthy of extensive contemplation in our trouble times.

Elliot Eisner is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ellie, son Steve Eisner, daughter Linda Eislund, son-in-law Eric Eislund, and grandsons Ari, Seth and Drew. A memorial service at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education will follow in the coming months. Those who desire to remember and honor Elliot W. Eisner may make contributions to the Elliot Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award Fund at the National Art Education Association, 1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 300, Reston, Virginia 20191.

Elliot W. Eisner, RIP.

Henia Bryer speaks to John Humphreys about her life and the Holocaust


Did any of you hear John Humphrey’s interviewing Henia Bryer yesterday morning? It was an incredibly moving interview about her life, her survival of the Holocaust and how her, and her family that remained, managed to live their lives together afterwards. Although it was extremely bleak in places, it was also, as Humphrey’s said, a remarkable testimony to the human spirit.

Here is the link in case you missed it:

With Holocaust day on Sunday, her documentary is being shown at 10.25pm on BBC1. Things like this should never be forgotten.

Apologies for the lack of posts recently

Apologies for the lack of content recently. I’ve been having some technical issues with the blog and these have only just been resolved. I’ve had to move the content across to this new hosting and, unfortunately, have lost some of the tags and categories. I’m hoping to get this sorted over the next week or so. Please bear with me.

Happy Christmas and New Year to all my readers

Today marks the end of my work for this year. At around 4pm today, the phone gets switched off, emails will go unanswered and work towards publishing deadlines put on hold until the 3rd January. Thanks for your contributions to the blog over the year. I hope you have found it a useful and informative resource. I’ve enjoyed using it as a platform to explore ideas. I’ll look forward to more blogging in 2012 but, until then, can I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Two key notes in two days!

Key note speeches are like buses. You don’t do one for ages and then two come along together. That was the case for me last week, with two key notes speeches for two very different audiences.

Firstly, the Centre for Urban Education’s creativity conference at the Manchester Communications Academy. Here, I spoke on the intrinsic link between the teacher and curriculum development, with a specific focus on creativity within the metaphors of a renaissance curriculum and a centrifugal pedagogy. You can read my notes here.

Secondly, I spoke at the Play Learn Live conference organised by Musical Futures and Roland UK. Having to follow an all singing (but no dancing) David Price was interesting, particularly as I was asked to give a ‘rant’ about the current state of music education in the UK. I’m not sure if it was a rant as such, more of an exploration of the impact of current Government policy which is resulting, in my opinion, in the privatisation of music education. Again, you can read my notes here.


Meet Alfie

Here’s Alfie, the latest addition to our household …

Alfie is a Newfoundland, so is going to become one *big* dog. But he has a superb temperament and is getting on fine with all and sundry. Fortunately, at the moment, he also does a lot of this (which is good):

Sir John Dankworth

We will miss Sir John Dankworth. There are going to be numerous tributes to his work over the following weeks. Here are two that I really enjoyed reading: Frank Griffith’s in the London Jazz; John Fordham in the Guardian. I remember a fantastic evening at the RNCM last summer when Sir John played with the RNCM big band. He played beautifully, told wonderful stories and coached/complimented/encouraged the other young musicians on the stage in such a humble and sensitive way.