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Children's favourite classical music revealed

6 November 2009

Two recent radio polls on children’s favourite classical music have produced contrasting results. Classic FM recently revealed its Children’s Hall of Fame, voted for by young listeners, inspiring a more informal investigation during BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme on Tuesday 3 November.

Top of the Classic FM poll is the theme from Harry Potter, and programmatic music fills almost all of the top 10; with two excerpts from Peter and the Wolf and Romeo and Juliet featuring among the big hitters, Prokofiev fares particularly well.

Switch over to Radio 3, though, and it’s a different story. In what station controller Roger Wright describes as a ‘completely unscientifically received set of favourites sent in by our listening kids in the space of about an hour’, the variety of responses is huge. Prokofiev and Pachelbel feature in this list (presented in no particular order) too, and there is still a strong preference for descriptive music such as Pictures at an Exhibition and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ from Peer Gynt. However, other young listeners declared their love of Bach’s cello suites and Bartók’s piano sonata; and emerging blinking from their relative obscurity came Rubbra’s Magnificat in A flat and Zelenka’s Missa Votiva.

Breakfast presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch's blog speculates that these surveys reveal a lot about how we learn to love music, and that ‘nothing beats performing music as a way of falling in love with it’. Judging from these polls, there is perhaps also a correlation between choice of radio station and musical preference. Which is cause and which effect remains unclear.

What is certain is that children still enjoy classical music. Even if, as Tom Service’s Guardian blog notes with more than a hint of exasperation, the top spot in the Classic FM poll goes to a piece of film music, while much of the rest of the list relies on its use in films and adverts for popularity, the enduring communicative power of acoustic orchestral forces can be sifted from the wreckage. And, while Radio 3’s audience might represent a minority, its survey indicates that classical music doesn’t have to appear in a soundtrack to be popular among children. As Mohr-Pietsch writes, ‘Their ears are obviously wide open. The trick, and the challenge, will be to keep them that way.’


Public debate on future of music education in Europe to be held in London on 5 December

2 November 2009

On Saturday 5 December there will be a public debate entitled The Future of Music Education in Europe at Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road, London at 5pm.  Leading experts in the field will take part in the debate, which is free to attend. The event is part of the Copernicus Music Festival, running from 30 November to 5 December. The festival is organised by K12 Conductors in Education, and brings together UK and Polish conservatoire students for an educational showcase that will include concerts, school workshops and public masterclasses. It is also the first time that students from all the UK conservatoires have been invited to come together in a mass collaboration. For further information visit the K12 website.

Kingston-upon-Hull and Manchester share major LEA Music Award

26 October 2009

The National Music Council's Local Education Authority Music Awards 2009 major trophy has been won jointly by Kingston-upon-Hull and Manchester local education authorities. The award wil be presented to representatives of the two authorities on stage at the Music for Youth Schools Prom in the Royal Albert Hall on Monday 9 November.

Diplomas of Special Merit have been awarded to Portsmouth and Tower Hamlets and Diplomas of Merit to Blackpool, Bolton, Devon, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Oxfordshire, Redbridge and Southwark. The PRS Foundation has awarded a Diploma of Special Merit to Bolton and Diplomas of Merit to Devon, East Lothian, Redbridge and Southwark for their commitment to creative music-making. Those awards will be presented on 9 November at the Austrian Cultural Forum, London.

Jazz Services has awarded a Diploma of Special Merit to Devon and Diplomas of Merit to Bolton, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Redbridge for commitment to jazz education.

Ivor Widdison, chair of the awards panel, said: 'The very splendid submissions we have before us are, of course, representative of best practice. We do well to remember that, as far as England is concerned, without the government's Music standards Fund and Wider Opportunities funds a lot of that best practice would not survive. North of the border, though the Scottish Arts Council's Youth Music Initiative grants are a very welcome icing on the cake, the education authorities themselves provide virtually all the funding and, of course, it is common practice in Scotland not to charge for tuition! It is all public money. So let us, again, salute the local and national politicians who authorise such worthy spends.


First course for Irish singing teachers takes place this weekend

26 October 2009

The first ever training course for Irish singing teachers will be held at Dromantine Conference Centre, Newry, Co Down, from 30 October to 1 November. It is the culmination of seven years' planning by Teachers of Singing in Ireland (TOSINI) and is based on the model established in England by the Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS). Two master teachers, the Irish mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and Professor Paul Deegan, will work on a one-to-one basis with participants and the various topics covered will include essential anatomy for singers; sight singing techniques; audition and exam preparation; classical and music training; and teachers as performers. 

Participant places are now full, but the sessions are open to observers at a cost of £5.00.

More information from the course administrator, Marie O'Sullivan, at

Royal Academy of Music to hold forum on music for disadvantaged young people

15 October 2009

Following the recent visit to the UK by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, there will be an open forum entitled Forging links and creating pathways for the disadvantaged young musician at the Royal Academy of Music in London, on Saturday 14 November at 3.30pm. All are welcome; email for further information.

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