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ABRSM becomes major sponsor of Music for Youth

1 March 2012

ABRSM has announced a new partnership with Music for Youth (MfY), the music education charity which provides free access to performance and audience opportunities for young musicians across the UK. ABRSM will become one of six sponsors supporting MFY.

ABRSM’s sponsorship will support the ongoing promotion and expansion of MfY’s Regional Festival Series, the world’s largest youth music festival which began in February and continues until April, and involves over 50,000 musicians and singers.

'Music for Youth and ABRSM have been working together since 1995 to support young musicians across the UK,' said Lincoln Abbotts, MfY's chief executive. 'This is a significant development for our longstanding relationship and we see huge potential with this new sponsorship agreement.' Abbotts will be leaving MfY to work for ABRSM later this year.

This year ABRSM’s support will help fund around 70 festivals in over 50 different venues throughout the UK from Truro to Inverness. The festivals will be attended by musicians of all levels, from school choirs to punk bands, duos to county youth orchestras. Some of the performers will have had experience of performing in large venues while others may be performing for the very first time.

'We’re extremely proud to be one of Music for Youth’s key sponsors this year, and in particular to give our support to the Regional Festivals,' said Guy Perricone, chief executive of ABRSM. 'We want to inspire as many people as we can to participate and progress in music. Giving young musicians the opportunity to perform live and receive feedback from the mentors at MFY is something we applaud loudly.'

Purcell School celebrates 50th birthday with Festival Hall concert

1 March 2012

The Purcell School is to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 19 March at 7.30pm.

Works will include Holst's The Planets, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and a new concertante work by Joseph Phibbs, all conducted by  Paul Daniel. The concert will feature a line-up of alumni soloists from the school, including Robert Cohen, cello, Nicholas Daniel, oboe, Jack Liebeck, violin, Catrin Finch harp, Tim Thorpe, horn and Jianing Kong, piano, accompanied by current students Purcell School Symphony Orchestra.

The school, the first specialist music school of its kind, was founded in 1962 by Rosemary Rapaport and Irene Foster. There are currently 180 musicians at its present site, in Bushey, Hertfordshire. It takes both boarders and day pupils and accepts students by audition, based on talent, regardless of background and experience. The school remains predominantly funded by the government's Music and Dance Scheme but also has its own scholarship fund.

The school’s President, Sir Simon Rattle CBE, said he is 'blown away by the commitment, skill and infectious energy of the remarkable young musicians. The school is a vibrant place where creativity and discipline go hand in hand, providing specialist training for musicians of the future, alongside an excellent general education. It gives me great hope for the future of the music profession when I hear what these young people are capable of. I send my very best wishes to the school for its 50th Birthday!'

Tickets for the concert are priced at £40, £20 and £10 and are available by calling 0844 847 9910 or by visiting www.southbankcentre.co.uk. VIP packages are available by calling 01923 331131 or by emailing e.mcgrath@purcell-school.org.

Oxford University receives £26m humanities bequest

1 March 2012

Music is one of the subjects to benefit from the recently announced Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Scholarships in the humanities at the University of Oxford.

The £26m bequest is the biggest in the University’s 900-year history and will be launched immediately with 15 scholarships a year. It will eventually be endowed in perpetuity to award at least 35 graduate humanities scholarships annually.

Leading humanities students from throughout the world will compete for full graduate scholarships in fields as diverse as literature, history, music, archaeology, art history, Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. The recipients of the award will be able to use Mica and Ahmet Ertegun House for the Study of the Humanities, a five-storey Georgian building in the heart of Oxford, which will be fitted with state-of-the-art technological capability and serve as a base for study and research by the Ertegun Scholars, and also for concerts.

The chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Patten, said: ‘This kind of support for postgraduates is vital for the future of research and human understanding, and vital for the future of great universities like Oxford. It allows us to ensure that the very best minds are supporting the university’s research endeavour now and will be the cutting edge researchers of the future.’

Mica Ertegun, the Romanian-born widow of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, now lives in New York City, and said that music was ‘one of the great joys of life’. She added: ‘In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time, that bind people together from every culture, and that enrich the capacity of human beings to understand one another and make the world a more humane place.’

Ofsted: one in five schools inadequate for music

1 March 2012

Ofsted has published a report which states that one in five English schools is inadequate for music.

Based on data collected from 2008 to 2011, the report found wide differences in the quality and quantity of music education in schools across England, with insufficient emphasis placed on active music-making in too many lessons. The scarcity of good vocal work in secondary schools, where nearly half of those inspected were judged inadequate for singing, and the underuse of music technology across all levels were also significant barriers to pupils’ musical progress.

Across the primary and secondary schools visited, around twice as many girls as boys were involved in extra-curricular activities. In secondary schools, only 6% of students with disabilities or special educational needs were involved in additional tuition, compared to 14% of students without these needs. Nearly all the schools recognised the importance of promoting a diverse range of musical styles, but far fewer had a clear understanding about how students should make good musical progress.

The report, entitled Music in schools: wider still, and wider, is complemented by six new films exemplifying good practice in a wide range of settings. These are designed to help all schools. Launching the report, her majesty’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: ‘Inspectors looking at music teaching in nearly 200 schools saw quality ranging from outstandingly good to extremely poor. Too often, inspectors simply did not see enough music in music lessons.

‘Too much use was made of non-musical activities such as writing without any reference to musical sound. Too much time was spent talking about tasks without teachers actually demonstrating what was required musically, or allowing the pupils to get on with their music making. Assessment was often inaccurate, over-complex or unmusical, particularly in secondary schools. All this limited time for practical music, detracting from pupils’ musical improvement and enjoyment.

‘School leaders need to monitor and challenge robustly the quality of music teaching and curriculum planning. I hope that schools and the new music hubs will use our recommendations to improve the quality of their music education.’

The report recommends that schools give sufficient, regular time for developing aural awareness and musical understanding, and ensure that opportunities for pupils’ practical, creative application and response to music are given priority. It also recommends that schools do more to ensure the sustained participation and musical achievement of specific groups of pupils, particularly boys; pupils with special educational needs; pupils known to be in receipt of free school meals; and children who are looked after.

Poor teaching highlighted by the report includes entire lessons, for example, where teachers did not play or sing a single note. In one lesson students sat passively while the teacher spent almost 20 minutes explaining complicated assessment objectives. One Year 9 class completed the copying of information about the lives of Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash but did not engage in musical activity.

The six films include examples which highlight the impact external providers can have on achievement and participation. These films cover a diverse range of schools, including a primary school where 98% of pupils are from minority ethnic groups, a high-attaining boys’ secondary school, and a special school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. They can be viewed at the following links:



The report can be read in full at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources

Government publishes review of cultural education in England

29 February 2012

The government has published an independent Review of Cultural Education in England, written by Classic FM managing director Darren Henley and commissioned by Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries. The review follows on from Henley’s review of music education in England, and covers archaeology, architecture and the built environment, archives, craft, dance, design, digital arts, drama and theatre, film and cinemas, galleries, heritage, libraries, literature, live performance, museums, music, poetry and the visual arts.

‘As I undertook a very detailed Review of Music Education in England only a few months ago, I do not propose to revisit this area in great depth in this new Review, which should be seen as a companion document,’ writes Henley in the review’s introduction. ‘However, it should be noted that music remains an integral part of the overall Cultural Education offer.’

The review states that ‘a sound cultural education should allow children to gain knowledge through the learning of facts; understanding through the development of their critical faculties and skills through the opportunity to practise specific art forms. Involvement with cultural activities, whether as an active participant (creating a piece of art or craft, reading a book, making a short film) or actively experiencing an event or place (visiting a heritage site, gallery or museum, seeing how a building works, watching a music, dance, or film performance) can be habit forming for the rest of a young person’s life.’

Henley adds: ‘I warmly welcome this clear and unambiguous statement of intent from the coalition government. It is unquestionably true that Cultural subjects such as art and design, design technology, dance, drama, film studies, music, history and English literature form a vital part of any child’s education. However, there is a growing concern that, with the exception of the latter two subjects, this area of education is no longer valued as much as it once was in our schools or in Further or Higher Education. I would encourage ministers in the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport swiftly to take action as a result of this Review to show that these concerns are misplaced.’

On the subject of cultural education as a means of school improvement or as a tool for achieving high impact social action projects, Henley writes: ‘This is certainly the case and during the course of conducting both this Review and my previous Music Education Review I have encountered some extraordinarily powerful examples of this at work. However, this should never be the primary reason for teaching children about Culture. Instead, the individual subjects which go together to make up Cultural Education are worthwhile in their own right.’

The review raises the possibility of widening the concept of music education hubs to include other cultural subjects: ‘The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education should identify the exact model for the delivery of Local Cultural Education Partnerships, as part of the development of the National Plan for Cultural Education, although it would seem sensible to begin by ascertaining whether the Local Music Education Hubs might be widened out to include the rest of Cultural Education. It is important that if this does become the favoured option that the result is in no way detrimental to the delivery of Music Education. To be clear, I am not recommending this route as the only available option, rather, I am suggesting the government examines it as one of a number of ways forward.’

The review also raises the place of creative subjects on the national curriculum and the English baccalaureate: ‘If we are to create a generation of fully rounded individuals, then the government should consider whether an education in at least one cultural subject (aside from English literature and history) to at least GCSE level should be mandatory. This could be achieved through the creation of a sixth grouping of subjects included in the English Baccalaureate. This would include Cultural Education subjects such as art and design, dance, drama, design technology, film studies and music. I would encourage the government to consider this idea when it next reviews the content of the English Baccalaureate.’

Finally, the review discusses teacher training: ‘A primary school teacher will be expected to teach music, art and drama as part of the broad curriculum which they deliver to their pupils. They will receive just a few hours training in teaching these subjects during their Initial Teacher Training. For many teachers, these subjects fall outside of their comfort zone and they can lack confidence in delivering them. While I would encourage continued review of the component parts of PGCE courses, I do understand the challenges of fitting all of the necessary aspects of teacher training into a relatively short period of time. For this reason, I believe that more support should be given to Newly Qualified Teachers in this area.

‘A postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning has been pioneered by dance educators over the past few years. I recommended that it be further developed in the area of Music Education in my previous Review and I see no reason why it should not be widened out to include other areas of Cultural Education.’

The government published its official response alongside the review. 'Once again we would like to record our grateful thanks to Darren Henley for his ambitious approach to undertaking a review of this scale across such a divergent sector, wrote Vaizey and education secretary Michael Gove. 'His vision for excellence in cultural education, to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the best that our unique cultural heritage has to offer, is one that we share.

'The Department for Education is committing £15m until 2015 to pump prime initiatives that will inspire children and young people and schools to take part in cultural activities to enrich their learning and play their part in helping the cultural arts industries to continue to flourish.

'However this is not just about creating opportunities; the real and lasting impact only occurs when those opportunities are enjoyable, challenging, of high quality, and when the young people are appropriately supported to achieve.'

Vaizey and Gove went on to lay out the following commitments:

• New joint Ministerial Board

• A National Plan for Cultural Education together with the sponsored bodies

• Work with Teaching Schools and sponsored bodies to improve the quality of cultural education in schools

• A new National Youth Dance Company

• National Art & Design Saturday Clubs

• Heritage Schools – providing access to local history and cultural heritage

• Cultural education passport – so that all children and young people can have a rich variety of cultural education

• Museums education – to encourage and facilitate more school visits to museums and art galleries

• Film education - to inspire and train the next generation of British filmmakers

• The Bridge Network bringing heritage and film as well as arts, museums and libraries closer to every school.

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