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Mayor of London's Music Fund gives 100 scholarships

30 January 2012

One hundred primary school musicians from all parts of London have been awarded scholarships totalling £400,000 by the Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians (MFYM).
The scholarships have been established to help children who show outstanding potential and commitment to learning an instrument but whose families struggle to pay for lessons. As well as weekly tuition, the young musicians will be given a mentor and be offered performance opportunities and membership of ensembles. Scheduled special events include work with MFYM patrons, including trumpet virtuoso Alison Balsom and beatboxer Shlomo.

The fund is awarding a further £100,000 to fund six Music Partnerships, to give thousands of seven- to 18-year-olds opportunities to learn and perform with professional musicians. These partnerships bring together 19 borough music services, six professional music groups including London orchestras, and music college students.

MFYM chief executive Ginny Greenwood said: 'Thanks to the enormous generosity of individuals and businesses around London, every single Mayor’s music scholar will receive up to four years of intensive musical learning. These are the most talented students who would have to stop learning without our support. By 2016 we hope to be funding up to 1,000 young scholars.'

Every music scholar will receive approximately four hours of music tuition a week in addition to that provided within the curriculum. They will have access to instruments, small-group tuition during the school day and after school, attendance at Saturday morning music centres and the opportunity to perform in and attend concerts.

One of the recipients, Emmanuel Bugyei, 11, from Tottenham, gave up violin lessons because his parents couldn’t afford them. 'When I heard that I was going to get a scholarship, I was lost for words,' he said. His parents said the scholarship 'could not have come at a better time.' Emmanuel's teacher at West Green Primary in Tottenham, Vicky Miller, said he was 'the most talented musician I have come across in many years'. He also plays the guitar and keyboards.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is MFYM’s founder patron, said: 'We know that learning a musical instrument can have a powerful impact on a child's life, helping in their social, emotional and academic development. Sadly, too many families in London cannot afford to pay for music lessons, even for very talented children. By investing in these scholarships and partnerships programmes, the fund will be enriching the lives of thousands of children and also make sure London remains the top city in the world for all kinds of music. I wish these talented young people every success.'

MYFM hopes to raise up to £1m, with a series of fundraising events planned throughout 2012. In return for an annual commitment of £1,000, benefactors are paired with a scholar, receiving regular reports and an invitation to special concerts, so that they are involved in the child’s musical development.


Live Music Bill passes final stages

27 January 2012

The Live Music Bill has now passed through its final stages in the House of Commons, needing only a rubber stamp from the House of Lords before it becomes law.

The Bill aims to make it easier for small venues to put on live performances. Many organisations, including schools, are put off running live events because of excessive bureaucracy. The Bill states that an exemption to the Licensing Act should take place when 'the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons'. This will reduce both the cost and the amount of form-filling for small venues wishing to put on live music.

The Bill has been supported by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians’ Union (MU). John Smith, the MU's general secretary, said he was delighted that it had finally made it through parliament.

'It is a real achievement for a Private Member’s Bill to get through and the MU would like to thank Lord Clement Jones, Don Foster and all of the other MPs who helped to pass this Bill.

'Over the past few years, our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig and is directly linked to the Licensing Act. The exemption that the Live Music Bill introduces will be hugely beneficial to these small venues.'

ISM publishes survey of private music teachers' fees

23 January 2012

Most music teachers are now charging between £25 and £35 an hour for private lessons, according to a new survey commissioned by The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). The results are based on responses from more than 700 music teachers about their fee levels at the start of the 2011-12 academic year.

The survey was carried out by independent statisticians at the University of Reading. Researchers found that the midpoint, in the sense that half the teachers charged more and half charged less, was £30.

The overall summary result figures were similar to those of the previous year’s survey, but almost two-fifths of respondents said they had raised their rates over the previous year, with most increasing them by between 3% and 8%. The midpoint was a 5% increase, in line with inflation. Unsurprisingly, teachers in central London charged significantly more (£30-50) than teachers in outer London (£30-40). Outside London, fees in the South and South East (£26-35) were higher than elsewhere in the UK (£24-32).

The ISM advises teachers to review their fees regularly, saying, 'Most music teachers do so once a year, even though they may not always raise their charges. Regular reviews enable you to adjust your fees gradually upwards to reflect your accumulating experience.'

The ISM website also gives advice on items you should include in your fees, such as travel to lessons, preparation and organising concerts, and on pricing for shared lessons. For more information and to see the survey results broken down by region, see www.ism.org/advice/article/fees_private_tuition.

BBC Young Composer premieres piece based on Manchester Colour Wheel

23 January 2012

A unique experiment to test the mood of Manchester using colour and music has culminated in the world premiere of a new work by BBC Young Composer of the Year Jack Sheen.

Performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the five-minute work is the result of a partnership between the NHS and the University of Manchester. More than 20,000 people in the city took part in the experiment, using the Manchester Colour Wheel, which was devised by University of Manchester researchers and is widely used in a clinical setting to measure happiness and wellbeing.

'The composition started from a series of notes which correlated to the most popular colours of the Great Manchester Health Experiment's colour wheel,' Jack, 19, explained. 'Together, they created a collection of six notes which form the basis of the piece. From here, I wanted to explore the various "colours" produced by the different timbres that the orchestra can make, combining them to create a variety of textures which are juxtaposed throughout the work.

'The title, Out of Blue, Gold and Grey, refers to three of the six colours which were most dominant in the research. It was a great opportunity and privilege to work with the players of the BBC Philharmonic and Clark Rundell.'

Professor Peter Whorwell, who devised the Manchester Colour Wheel, will present the preliminary findings of research he has undertaken with pupils from Sale Grammar School and which will be published in a scientific journal shortly.

Professor Ian Jacobs, director of Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) and dean of the university’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, said the experiment aimed 'to encourage public participation in health and wellbeing activities, promote understanding of the importance of health research, and encourage support for population-based clinical trials.'

Dr Linda Magee, OBE, chief operating officer of MAHSC, added: 'This was a fun idea with a serious message. We hope people will better understand the importance of scientific and medical research and that what this partnership is trying to do is to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone within our community and beyond.'

ABRSM appoints Lincoln Abbotts as teaching and learning development director

16 January 2012

Lincoln Abbotts is to move to the ABRSM in a new role of teaching and learning development director. The post replaces the existing role of professional development director, currently held by Richard Crozier, who retires in April after 17 years. The new role encompasses responsibility for ABRSM’s current professional development courses and also has a wider remit, with responsibility for developing a programme of support for teachers.

Abbotts, who has worked as a flute teacher, composer, conductor and workshop leader, is currently chief executive of Music for Youth, the music education charity which provides performance and audience opportunities for young people. He has also worked for the BBC and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

'During the past four years in my role at Music for Youth I have been proud to showcase some of the inspirational work being created by teachers and young musicians across the UK. Today’s music education landscape offers a wealth of opportunity where it is vital for teachers to feel supported and be inspired to further their own professional development.

'I am delighted to be joining ABRSM to help provide this support and inspiration, building on a strong foundation and evolving a new role that will work with and bring together teachers from around the globe. I’ve grown up with ABRSM and know how life changing and motivational instrumental and vocal teachers can be.'

Guy Perricone, ABRSM’s chief executive, said that the creation of the new role recognises the fact that 'teachers are at the heart of ABRSM's activities'. Paying tribute to Richard Crozier, he said his colleague had been 'pivotal in establishing the organisation as one of the principal providers of professional development for instrumental teachers'.

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