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Newham aims to make every child a musician

24 March 2010

The London Borough of Newham is to provide two years' free music lessons and an instrument for all pupils entering Year 5 in September 2010. The scheme, called 'Every Child a Musician', will initially reach nearly 4,000 pupils from 67 schools in Newham. Unusually, they will be allowed to keep their instruments at the end of the two-year period. Newham, where two-thirds of the London Olympics and Paralympics will take place, is also the only London borough to be piloting free school meals for all primary school pupils, in order to encourage youngsters to eat more healthily. It is investing £1.5m to launch 'Every Child a Musician', which will include teaching the children to read music and to play an instrument. Up to now, Newham parents have had to pay part of the cost of their children's instrumental lessons, currently priced at £42 per term for a half-hour lesson in a group of three or four. Instruments can be hired for £12 per term.

The new scheme is about opening access to music and breaking down barriers, something young people from more affluent backgrounds take for granted, said Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham. 'Music should be about access for all, not just those who can afford it. It has the power to enrich, uplift and even transform people's lives. However, for children from poorer backgrounds, this can be impossible. For many nationally the price of instruments and tuition is prohibitive and provision in schools can be limited and patchy. That is not the case in Newham.

'For centuries London's East End has been one of the poorest areas in Europe,' Sir Robin added. 'We all have to get more real about balancing east and west London and offering our residents the same opportunities as anywhere else in the capital. Nothing less will do. We are using the excitement of the Olympic games to boost the aspirations of young people locally. This scheme has been inspired by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra who set the Royal Albert Hall alight during the BBC Proms a few years ago.'

Every Child a Musician is supported by cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, the government's participation director Richard Hallam, and Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House and chair of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Board. 'We would love to have some Newham pupils from this scheme go on to perform on the stages of the biggest abnnd best concert halls one day. All pupils from whatever background deserve the same success. Talent is all - but it needs to be nurtured and developed.'

Brass quintet serenades RWCMD construction workers

24 March 2010

Royal Welsh College brass band quintet Castle Brass are the first performers to play in what will be the college’s new Concert Hall. The quirky lunchtime concert entertained Willmott Dixon builders while they worked to ensure the building is completed for early 2011.

‘Being the first ensemble to play on the Royal Welsh College's new concert hall stage was a privilege for us as a brass quintet,’ said band member Gareth Robinson. ‘Castle Brass has been together for 18 months and this has been one of our most exciting gigs yet. Playing in front of a group of builders in the outdoors was a very different but enjoyable experience for us too! We were proud to represent the college by performing at this new venue and hope we get the chance to do so again soon.’ Fellow Castle Brass player Sion Tansley added, ’It was great to play at the heart of the building and even at this early stage we can imagine what it will be like to perform there when it's finished.’

‘It was fantastic for the construction team on site to have a taste of the work that goes on within the college and we all enjoyed the performance,’ said Alan Pitman, Operations Manager for Willmott Dixon. ‘Work has been developing well on site and we have already made significant progress on the concert hall. The groundwork is finished and we have completed the exterior drum of the concert hall and theatre. We are now progressing with internal works where the acting and movement studios will be located.'

 The new facilities, which will also include four Acting and Movement Studios, the 160-seat Courtyard Theatre and an exhibition gallery, as well as the 450-seat Concert Hall, will open in January 2011.


Stepping into Music early years training programme is recruiting now

5 March 2010

Stepping into Music (SiM), the Dalcroze Society’s early years workshop and training programme, is accepting applications for a new intake of trainees for its accredited course for musicians, dancers and the early years workforce. The next course will begin in April and an application pack can be found at www.steppingintomusic.org.uk, which also offers more information about the programme and about the proven developmental benefits of integrated music and movement activity for this age group. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 31 March 2010.

SiM will help address the lack of skilled and experienced practitioners to lead and deliver music and movement activity in early years settings across the country, by equipping an enthusiastic new team of practitioners with the skills to develop and deliver work to babies and young children in the future. Successful trainees will emerge from the course with either a Level 4 or Level 5 Certificate in Early Years Music and Movement accredited by Canterbury Christ Church University. It is hoped that, together with this recognised qualification and the confidence gained from undertaking the course, these trainees will go on to set up and run their own regular sessions with under-fives.

Mayor of London launches strategy for music education

3 March 2010

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced a two-year programme of activity aimed at boosting music education provision in the capital, supported by £100,000 of seedbed funding. Making Music Matter: A Music Education Strategy for London 2010-1012, was launched at the Royal Festival Hall on 2 March.
Since the closure of the Inner London Education Authority music service in the 1990s, there has been no London-wide strategic agency for music education. While musical activity for young people is flourishing in some respects, provision is not consistent across the 32 boroughs and some aspects of music teaching, particularly instrumental and vocal tuition, that are difficult to access for those on low incomes. While early access is generally good, the increasing pressure on local authority budgets means it is harder to provide free intensive tuition and progression opportunities at intermediate and advanced level.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) Music Education Programme has grown out of the lord Mayor’s summit on music education in January 2009. It will seek to improve the provision of music education in London by brokering relationships, conducting research and producing advice for the music education sector in London, with the intention of stimulating growth and partnerships by 2012, leading to sustained improvement in the longer term. It will consist of the following strands of activity:
The Mayor’s music education fund
£100,000 to seed fund partnerships between local authority music services and ensembles in the city, through a grant fund which opens in May 2010. The aim is to give young people the experience of working with professional musicians, encouraging them to make music in ensemble while helping to raise their musical aspirations. It will also strengthen and deepen the partnership working between London’s music services and the orchestral sector. The fund will be administered by the GLA in partnership with the London branch of the Federation of Music Services, working closely in the first instance with the Association of British Orchestras.
An audit of music education provision
This will be produced in stages throughout 2010-12 and used to shape understanding of provision and identify gaps or areas needing additional support
Rhythm of London
An annual showcase event, inaugurated last year. This year’s will take place 17-24 April. Supported by a website signposting musical opportunities for young people and ultimately linking advisory services and schools
Events and publications to support teacher development
Advocacy to funders and government
Consultations with young people, teachers, parents and music education providers through events, online activity and social media to help improve communications across the sector and ensure that providers are aware of people’s needs.
The programme is steered by a 15-strong board chaired by Karen Brock, head of Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service, with Richard Morris, recently-retired chief executive of the ABRSM, as deputy chair. It includes representatives of the Barbican, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Southbank Centre, the London Symphony Orchestra, Youth Music, Music for Youth, Arts Council England and the charity London Music Masters.
Speaking at the launch, where he was serenaded on arrival by children from St Stephen’s Primary School who are participating in Lambeth InHarmony, Boris Johnson declared his own enthusiasm for music and paid tribute to the teachers at the Chalk Farm primary school attended by both the foreign secretary, David Miliband, and himself, who had nurtured that enthusiasm by putting violin and recorder-playing at the heart of school life. He said that although the GLA is not a major funder of music education in London, it works in partnership with a range of organisations to improve the delivery of cultural services and there was a widespread consensus that it should play a strategic role in shaping music education in the capital.

ISM chief rallies the troops in support of music education

3 March 2010

The music education sector needs to decide what constitutes a high-quality music education and what can be done to ensure that this remains available to children regardless of which politicians are in power after the forthcoming election, said Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), in a keynote speech at MusicLearningLive2010, held last month at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.
Analysing the pledges of the three main parties with respect to education, Annetts noted that the current government’s proposals centre on literacy and numeracy, while there have been hints that the Conservatives may remove music education from the schools ministry and include it in the culture portfolio, leaving it vulnerable to being removed from the core curriculum. In the hurly-burly of political debate, she said, music education could easily be lost. ‘But it must not be lost. It is too important to be lost.’
Music education has had significant support since 1999 when the government introduced the Standards Fund for Music, which is ring-fenced funding, allocated to music education for local authorities to distribute each year, she said. ‘Without the leverage of the ring-fenced Music Standards Fund, it is likely that a significant part of the music education funding of £219 million, together with infrastructure, would be lost.’
In support of its case, the ISM commissioned a YouGov poll which proves, Annetts said, that it is not just music professionals who recognise the value of music education. It revealed that 91% of adults believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument in school, and more than three quarters of the public back the current level of funding for the Standards Fund.
‘And did you know that when you break this down the Standards Fund costs just 3p per person per week? Now that is good value. As a sector we need to argue strongly for the Standards Fund for Music to be maintained at least at its current level, if not increased, to 2015.
‘Not only do we have a music education system which is recognised as world-class, but we also have a general public which is hugely supportive of music education. We should recognise this fact and be very proud. Perhaps music educators have been hiding their lights under a bushel for too long. Perhaps now is the moment for us to speak up loudly and proclaim just how good music education really is in this country and how much support it.’
Annetts also stated that performing arts graduates are more likely to be employed than most other graduates. ‘No wonder then that it was the Creative Economy which was the only part of the economy which grew during the recession. We should be nurturing this sector and ensuring that we have the skills and the talents with which to continue to support and grow it.’
In MusicLearnngLive’s second keynote speech Paul Collard, chief executive of Creativity, Culture and Education, suggested that children’s services might be best placed in the future to engage with artists and arts organisations to provide cultural education; Artists including musicians have successfully made the case for the social value of the arts; children’s services recognise this and also recognise that they do not have the expertise to deliver arts activities. However on a less positive note Collard endorsed the concerns of the many conference delegates who deplored the short-termism of initiatives such as the Wider Opportunities instrumental teaching programme, which offers whole classes of primary school children the opportunity to learn one or more instruments for a year. Quoting one mother who had refused permission for her child to take part in the scheme on the grounds that it would inspire an enthusiasm that she could not afford to nurture by paying for lessons after the free provision ended, he reminded delegates that many families on the edge of deprivation were in similar situations. According to CCE’s research, such families also face many other hidden barriers to participation in the arts.

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