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Still no sign of National Plan for Music as Gove booed at Schools Prom

8 November 2011

The National Plan for Music Education, which will set out government policy for music education in England from September 2012, is still yet to be published by the Department for Education.

There had been rumours of a planned announcement by education secretary Michael Gove at last night's Music for Youth Schools Prom (7 November). However, with the report unpublished and Gove greeted on to the stage by booing from the audience, the minister remained silent on the matter.

The national plan will outline government policy on music education based on the recommendations of Darren Henley's review of the sector published earlier this year, and is expected to focus on encouraging music services, LEAs and regional performance groups to work together in what Henley called 'regional music education hubs'.

The plan will be implemented from September 2012 and with the report still unpublished it is unclear how music education bodies will have the necessary time to prepare for any new way of working. Moreover, the level of funding for music education activity is still unknown. Richard Hallam, national music education grant director, had initially said the plan was expected 'no later than the end of September'.

Gove was last night welcomed onto the stage by Schools Prom host Margherita Taylor to present two awards for the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year. As members of the audience booed, Taylor was forced into crowd control:

'Now now, we're all friends on this stage tonight,' said Taylor. 'Especially when there could be exciting news on the way soon hopefully for music education programmes in our schools, so we look forward to hearing more about that.'

With all eyes on Mr Gove, the education secretary made no mention of the National Plan and moved on to presenting the awards. 'Thank you so much,' he said, 'it's been an amazing night for music education and I've been privileged to be in the audience.'

Gove presented the awards to Kathryn Smith of Silkstone Common Junior and Infant School (Primary School Music Teacher of the Year) and Sheila Cornall of Wycombe High School (Secondary School Music Teacher of the Year). Peripatetic, SEN, new teacher and lifetime achievement awards will be presented on 8 and 9 November.


Yorkshire Libraries and Information Music and Drama Service faces closure

3 November 2011

The country’s largest music and drama lending library is facing closure because of a lack of money. The Yorkshire Libraries and Information Music and Drama Service, which is based in Wakefield, contains more than half a million scores and 90,000 scripts.

Twelve local authorities currently subscribe to the service - Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield and York - enabling local music and drama groups to enjoy subsidised loans of materials. But they says they 'are no longer able to bridge the gap between income and expenditure' and therefore support the decision to end the service. The Library also has problems with its building and an enforced move to new premises would further add to the shortfall.

There are now plans to either divide the collection across sub-regional library authorities, or gifting the collection, or parts of the collection, to other authorities, institutions or groups. Robin Osterley, chief executive of Making Music, said, 'The rule among choirs all over the country is try your local library first, then Wakefield. It will be devastating if that ceases to be the case.'

Youth Music launches new funding model

3 November 2011

Youth Music has launched its new funding model with the aim of supporting 'organisations aiming to make a real difference, helping children and young people with least opportunities develop and progress in and through music making.'

As before, the Youth Music's funding is based on grants, with most funding available through an open access approach. Now, those seeking funding can apply via the Youth Music Network website. The new funding model, entitled the Youth Music Programme, comprises a new knowledge-sharing network and grants programme.

All information on applying for funding from the Youth Music Programme can be found on the Youth Music Network site: www.youthmusic.org.uk/network

Academics at University of East Anglia recommend closure of university's School of Music

1 November 2011

A panel of senior academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich has recommended the closure of the University’s School of Music. The vice-chancellor, Professor Edward Acton, has accepted the report and the recommendation that will be put to the university's governing council is that UEA should stop offering music as an academic discipline once current students have completed their degrees.

A UEA spokesman said, 'At a time when every university is facing difficult decisions about how best to prioritise its investments, the panel believes that the School of Music cannot meet the scale of the demands now being made on universities.

'The School of Music’s ability to earn research funding is of particular concern, in the light of funding changes to universities. The review also notes that it would be difficult to grow student numbers within the school saying it would require the university to divert resources from, and possibly put at risk, other disciplines.'

Professor Acton added, 'What makes this position especially painful is the knowledge of the school’s fine achievements, the quality and passion of its staff under successive leaders and the pride and affection of cohorts of alumni,' said Professor Acton.

'Whatever Council may decide, we are determined to ensure that current students in the school are strongly supported and are able to complete their studies successfully. We also remain committed to music as a vital aspect of the social and cultural life of the university and to the continuation of the flourishing choirs and orchestras which are central to that work.'

The recommendations will be taken to the University’s Senate on 9 November 2011, and the final decision on the future of the School of Music rests with Council which meets on 28 November.

Registry of Guitar Tutors launches new rock guitar exams

1 November 2011

A new series of specialist rock guitar graded exams has been released by the Registry of Guitars Tutors (RGT) to help students gain accredited qualifications for performing popular rock guitar tracks in specially-crafted arrangements. They have been designed by the RGT to 'suit the technical level of each grade while retaining the authenticity of the song'.

Early grade pieces include Smoke On The Water, Smells Like Teen Spirit, All Right Now and Paranoid, while intermediate grade songs include Layla, The Boys Are Back In Town and All Along The Watchtower. Advanced grades include tracks by Led Zeppelin, Santana, Steve Vai, Korn, System of a Down and Avenged Sevenfold.

The exams also include aural tests and improvisation which focuses on the core lead and rhythm playing skills required by rock guitarist.

RGT exams director Tony Skinner said, 'The new rock guitar exams are in addition to RGT’s existing and very popular electric guitar exams. They are not replacing them but provide an alternative for those who want to specialise in rock guitar.

'Guitar teachers and students who’ve heard about the new exams seem very excited by the prospect of being able to play such a great choice of classic rock tracks as part of their RGT exam.'

The Registry of Guitar Tutors was founded in 1992 and is the world’s largest organisation of guitar teachers as well as being the UK’s only specialist guitar examination body. RGT offers exams in electric guitar, rock guitar, jazz guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, classical guitar and popular music theory. Exams take place in the UK and in more than 30 countries across the world.

A series of course handbooks has been produced by RGT to help students prepare for the exams. These are available from www.BooksForGuitar.com while a free exam information booklet can be downloaded from www.RGT.org or obtained by ringing 01424 222222.

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