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Education Secretary Gove announces independent review of UK music education

24 September 2010

The Department for Education today announced a widely-expected review of music education, and confirmed that it would be led by Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM and chair of the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group (MMPAG) until it was disbanded earlier this month.

In an open letter to Henley, Gove outlined a number of broadly positive assumptions which presumably reflect current thinking at the highest levels of the coalition government. These include: 

  • 'Government priorities recognise music as an enriching and valuable academic subject with important areas of knowledge that need to be learnt, including how to play an instrument and to sing.'
  • 'Secondary benefits of a quality music education are those of increased self esteem and aspirations; improved behaviour and social skills; and improved academic attainment in areas such as numeracy, literacy and language. There is evidence that music and cultural activity can further not only the education and cultural agendas but also the aspirations for the Big Society.'
  • 'Public funding should be used primarily to meet the government priorities of every child having the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to sing.'
Henley has been given a broad remit to make recommendations for changes to be implemented no earlier than 2012/2013 (and asked for recomendations for a 'transitional stage' in 2011/12).

Gove was quoted as saying: 'It’s a sad fact that too many children in state schools are denied the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Evidence suggests that learning an instrument can improve numeracy, literacy and behaviour. But more than that, it is simply unfair that the joy of musical discovery should be the preserve of those whose parents can afford it.'

Henley announced an initial call for evidence, adding: 'Having worked closely with leading music educators and thinkers over the past few years, I know how much of a positive difference high quality music education makes to children's lives. I am looking forward to delivering to ministers a report which outlines how we can ensure that every child in England benefits from a world-beating music education system.'

The full press release, letter and a full remit of the review are available here.

Youth Music Week is five weeks away, from 27 October to 3 November

24 September 2010

Youth Music Week will take place from 27 October to 3 November, bringing together music organisations across England in a wide variety of events, courses and shows.

Many events have already been put onto the organisation's website and highlights so far look set to include the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performing with Union Dance at London's Cockpit Theatre on 27 October, a 'Song in a day' in Liverpool with jam sessions, acoustic rap and performances from the Sense of Sound choir across the week from 27 October, and The Journey Home, a 'Music theatre that bites!' event at the Sage, Gateshead on 29 October which is presented in collaboration with CoMusica, the JUICE Festival and Mongrel Theatre UK.

The week also features 'The Power Tour', a celebration of local bands happening in different locations on different days across the country, starting in Scunthorpe and Stoke on 27 October. Grassroots competitions have fed into the bands who will be performing at these regional performances - further details are yet to be published.

Details of further events are due to be announced in the period leading up to the week itself.


123sing! encourages events across the country on 1,2,3 October

24 September 2010

Over 130 events have been organised as part of Making Music and Classic FM's 123sing! weekend at the beginning of October. The radio station has set up a website which lists all events whose organisers have put themselves forward to be part of the initiative and has released a resource pack to help people to organise more events. The initiative aims to encourage people to sing and to raise money for Classic FM's charity, Music Makers.

Events are listed in locations across the UK, including an upper voices event at Fulwood Methodist Church in Preston, opera singer Jennifer Parker-Lummis singing music from the top of Porstmouth's Spinnaker Tower,the Cotswold Male Voice Choir singing at Cheltenham's Beechwood shopping centre, and the wedding of Vicky Chattaway and Adam Beecroft in Bingley, Yorkshire.

Music Makers is a grant giving charity which raises money to fund music education and therapy projects working with the most disadvantaged children and adults across the UK, and was set up in 2006. Making Music is the working name for the National Federation of Music Societies, an umbrella group representing over 2,900 voluntary music groups.



Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards - deadline 4 October

1 September 2010

The deadline for entries to the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards is 6pm on Monday 4 October.

The accolade is awarded to entrants in six categories: primary, secondary, peripatetic, special educational needs and lifetime achievement.

The competition is held in conjunction with Avid Sibelius and Yamaha, with winners receiving prizes worth thousands of pounds for their schools from the two companies.

The awards will be presented at the Music For Youth Schools Proms over three nights at the Royal Albert Hall on 8–10 November 2010. 

To make a nomination, donwload the relevant form from the competition website and post it to Classic FM, arriving no later than 6pm on Monday 4 October.


Young composers competition at StAnza poetry festival, St Andrews

1 September 2010

Young composers are being invited to submit entries for the composition competition of the StAnza poetry festival. The next festival, in March 2011, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean, and composers are required to set one of MacLean's poems - in Gaelic or English translation.

The St Andrew's Chamber Orchestra will perform the winning entry along with flute, viola and harp soloists from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) and soprano Lesley Jane Rogers.

The three poems available to be set are 'An Autumn Day', 'Dogs and Wolves', and 'Under Sail'. Deadline for entries is 30 November 2010, and up to three winning pieces will be selected. These will be performed as part of the 2011 festival on 20 March at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

Meanwhile, the SCO is currently in the second year of its residency at St Andrew's university.

Further details, rules and entry forms for the competition can be found at the SCO Connect website.



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