MU training course recommends zero touching policy with pupils
17 December 2010
The Musicians Union (MU) has released a video which urges teachers to cease physical contact with their students – as part of a CPD initiative called ‘Keeping Children Safe in Music’. The initiative, run by the MU, ABRSM, MusicLeader and the NSPCC, is designed to ‘raise awareness about child protection for musicians who teach’ but elements of it have drawn opprobrium from teachers and campaigners.
The video shows a young boy of about 8 playing scales on the violin. He is not able to play the notes correctly, and the teacher explains this is because his hands are in the wrong position. The teacher then places his hand on the child’s shoulder and holds the child’s fingers in the correct position; the child looks uncomfortable.
The scene begins again, but this time the teacher demonstrates on his own violin. Both versions of the scene end with the pupil playing the correct notes.
The voice-over in the video advises that ‘You should never need to touch a student for demonstration. This can make the students feel uncomfortable. It could lay you open to a charge of inappropriate behaviour’. It is then suggested that teachers should ‘use your creativity to find other, equally effective ways to demonstrate’.
Another video shows a teacher pushing a teenaged pupil down into a chair following an altercation between members of a youth band.
The ‘Keeping Children Safe in Music’ initiative was first announced at the MU’s teachers’ conference in October and has since caused substantial reaction amongst teachers and in the national press, culminating in a piece this week in the Telegraph newspaper.
A forum on ABRSM’s website has been overwhelmed with posts from disgruntled teachers. One member, ‘Banjogirl’, says: ‘I can't help touching children occasionally. It's much better to steer a child into the position you want them than spend ten minutes trying to get them exactly where you want them without touching them. It's ludicrous.’
‘Banjogirl’ continues: ‘It's bringing children up to think that there is something dirty about touch and to be suspicious of other people.’
The MU’s national organiser for live performance and teaching, Diane Widdison, responded that: ‘It's a difficult area but we are here to protect children and to protect our members' careers.
‘When allegations are made against music teachers they are suspended immediately while an investigation is carried out and their careers are damaged or ruined even if they are declared innocent.’
There are five videos in the series, which can be found on YouTube. Widdison and the MU hope to embed the course into ‘any teaching courses or teaching diplomas so it becomes an industry standard’.
Student protests help secure Aberdeen’s music service
14 December 2010
Councillor Martin Greig accepts a petition from protesters Jillian Hunter and Lauren McPhail
Young people in Aberdeen now sense victory in a campaign of petitioning, letter-writing and protest against proposals to cut council funding to the Aberdeen City Music Service.
Councillors have made encouraging statements to suggest that protestors’ worst fears – that the music service might be scrapped– will not come about.
Council leader John Stewart issued a statement on 2 December saying that while it was ‘difficult for the lowest-funded council in Scotland to maintain a gold standard service… We will do all we can to ensure that a high-quality music service – accessible to all – survives.
‘We will need to make some savings from the service and will look to see if these can be secured by maintaining the quality of the service, but delivering it in a different way' said Stewart.
Qualifying subjects for English Baccalaureate clarified - no music
14 December 2010
Music will not be a qualifying subject for the new English Baccalaureate, plans for which were formally set out last month in Michael Gove’s schools white paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’.
The Baccalaureate will be awarded to pupils who pass at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, and must include one each from the following list: English, maths, a science, a foreign language and a humanity (history or geography).
It is hoped to become the main schools performance indicator, eventually replacing the current GCSE data which are based on A*-C pass rates for five or more GCSEs in any subject.
Its intention is to recognise schools which provide a good breadth of education to their pupils, but fears have also been raised that music, along with other subjects which do not qualify, might be marginalised as headteachers focus on core subjects.
There had been uncertainty as to whether or not music might fall under the category of humanities, but an addendum document published this month has clarified the situation with a full list of qualifying subjects. Music is not on this list, with only variations of history and geography qualifying as humanities.
BETT Education show runs from 12 to 15 Jan
14 December 2010
The BETT education technology show will be held at London’s Olympia on 12-15 January, offering ‘the opportunity to view, touch and test all that is new in the industry’. The largest education technology exhibition in the world, BETT will showcase over 600 exhibitors and include 100 seminars.
Music-themed seminars will include Brendon Le Page, head of Lambeth music service, on the online benefits delivered by the In Harmony Lambeth project, and Louise Dorrian, music teacher at Lodge Park Technology College, with a presentation entitled 'Deeper engagement of students and parents through social networking and games based learning'.
Visit the website for a full list of seminars and exhibitors.
Audition dates and venues announced for Youth Music Theatre 2011
6 December 2010
Terry Pratchet's 'Mort'
Auditions for Youth Music Theatre’s 2011 season will be held across the UK and in Dublin during January and February. 2011’s productions will include an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel Mort, a musical theatre version of Macbeth by Garth McConaghie and Stuart Harvey, and ‘Out There’, an intergalactic drama written by the same team as 2010’s successful ‘Loserville’.
Audition dates and venues:
London (Riverside Studios, 15 January, 19 & 25 February), Berkshire (South Hill Park Arts Centre, 16 January), Liverpool (Studio Liverpool, 22 January), Leeds (Carriageworks, 23 January), Plymouth (Barbican Theatre, 29 January), Bristol (Old Vic, 30 January), Dublin (Dancehouse, 5 February), Belfast (Youth Action, 6 February), Manchester (Zion Arts Centre, 12 February), Newcastle (Live Theatre, 13 February), Aberdeen (Citymoves Studio, 14 February), Inverness (Spectrum Centre, 15 February), Glasgow (The Brickhouse, 16 February), Edinburgh (Dance Base, 17 February), Brighton (Venue tbc, 20 February), Cambridge (The Junction, 21 February), Nottingham (Arts Theatre, 22 February), Cardiff (26 February) and Birmingham (27 February).
Book audition places online here.
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