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Latest News

Music lessons lead to better adult hearing

23 August 2012

A new study has shown that children who have music lessons, even for as little as one year, have better hearing as adults. Research in the Journal of Neuroscience found they had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds. Those who had music lessons were particularly good at identifying the lowest frequencies, which are needed when listening to speech and music in noisy environments.

The report’s author, Nina Kraus, Professor of Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University in Illinois,  said, 'Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning.

'We infer that a few years of music lessons also confers advantages in how one perceives and attends to sounds in everyday communication situations, such as noisy restaurants.'

Tottenham school launches post-riot anthem

23 August 2012

More than 100 celebrities are supporting a North London school which is attempting to get a song to number one.

Everybody Dreams was written by children from Gladesmore Community school in Tottenham in response to the negative image of their area created by last year’s riots. It has received backing from DJ Chris Moyles, Nigerian rapper Wizkid, comedians Jennifer Saunders and Ricky Gervais and has been remixed by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

Deputy headteacher Juliet Coley said the school hoped to establish an orchestra with the proceeds from sales. The song, which can be heard at was sung by London Mayor Boris Johnson while he was on a visit to the school. It is also being used as Haringey Council's hold music and the single is  being played at Spurs games. Stephen Fry has tweeted his four million followers, encouraging them to buy it.

Juliet Coley explained that the children had been inspired by a desire to change people’s impression of Tottenham. 'When the kids came back to school after the riots they were really upset by images in the media. The riots started in Tottenham and it was the last place that got cleaned up. You could still see the debris and burnt out parked cars. The idea of a song came up because they thought it could move people. We wanted to give the kids aspirations to think big and think anything is possible.'

She hopes the proceeds from the sale of the single can be used to fund a school orchestra, anticipated to cost at least £20,000. 'We want to do something beyond the expectation of kids in Tottenham,' she said. 'We want to make classical music in an urban setting, but that costs and we've never been able to afford it.'

BBC Performing Arts Fund to award £200,000 to young musicians

15 August 2012

The BBC Performing Arts Fund is to award £200,000 to help young musicians in the early stages of their careers.

The fund’s Music Fellowship is designed to support individuals through the early stages of their music careers, helping to establish them in the professional world through placements in music organisations. Music organisations from across the UK can apply for one of 20 grants of £10,000 each to host a music fellow. The organisations will provide a specifically tailored and mentored experience for their fellow, providing access to their facilities, training and audiences.

Miriam O’Keeffe, director of the BBC Performing Arts Fund, said: ‘The BBC has a long history of discovering and supporting new talent. This year we are looking to help organisations to support the next generation of musicians, composers, conductors, songwriters, producers and emerging talent.'

Some 1,250 individuals and 190 community groups have so far received a grant from the fund, helping more than 900 musicians purchase instruments and equipment. Thirteen emerging producers, choreographers and dancers have been awarded fellowships, and the fund is the UK's biggest funder of musical theatre training in the charity sector, having supported 162 students. Previous winners have gone on to produce a Mercury Prize winning album, perform at the Glastonbury Festival, appear with Jools Holland and land starring roles in the West End.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund has awarded more than £3.8m in the past nine years. This year, the charity has received funding from BBC One’s The Voice through the public phone vote.

Disabled musicians to feature in Channel 4 documentary

10 August 2012

Conductor Charles Hazlewood is to feature in a new Channel 4 documentary, which follows him as he puts together an orchestra of disabled musicians.

Paraorchestra will show how the conductor recruited the musicians, and will also reveal each player’s own relationship with music. Channel 4 said the documentary, being made by What Larks Productions, would explore the 'achievements and challenges facing disabled musicians in Britain today'.
The musicians include a blind sitar player and a pianist with one arm. Others have had to abandon traditional instruments but are still able to make music using computer technology. Clarence Adoo used to play trumpet with jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine until a car crash left him paralysed. He now blows through a tube hooked up to a laptop to simulate a wind instrument.

Hazlewood was inspired to put the orchestra together after his daughter Eliza was born with cerebral palsy. 'I thought it was time to establish a really brightly lit platform for astonishingly gifted musicians who happen to be disabled, in order to get the attention of the world to bring about change,' he said.

The show is one of four new music programmes commissioned by Channel 4 arts commissioning editor Tabitha Jackson. 'While on the face of it these films are about music, in fact what they really illuminate, in a beautifully crafted way, is contemporary human experience and the power of music within that,' said Jackson.

2012 Choir of the Year gets under way

9 August 2012

More than 150 choirs of all ages and musical styles have performed at regional auditions across the UK to reach the category finals of Choir of the Year, a national amateur group singing competition. The 16 category finalists are now competing to win a place in the grand final at London's Royal Festival Hall on 28 October. The final will be broadcast on BBC Four.

Since 1984 more than 130,000 singers of all ages have taken part in the competition, a biennial festival of singing, performing in a wide array of styles – pop, gospel, barbershop, classical and world music. Choirs have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience and judges provide instant feedback and written guidance notes following the heat.

The 2012 competition categories are Open Choirs, with no upper or lower age limits; Children’s Choirs, with most singers 12 and under; Youth Choirs, with most singers 18 and under; and Adult Choirs. The competition’s semi-finals will be held at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on 6 October.

Judge Paul Mealor, who composed music for the Royal Wedding and the Military Wives, said: 'I'm so thrilled to be helping judge this fantastic event - something I've followed and loved for years. This competition really shows off the very best in choral singing and lets the world see and hear how great our choirs really are.'

Choir of the Year is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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