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Review of 'delivery and provision of music education' to be led by Classic FM's Darren Henley

21 October 2010

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education

A review of the delivery and provision of music education across England has been announced by the Department for Education with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and a final report is due by the end of the year. The review is being led by Darren Henley, managing director of Classic FM. A consultation process is currently taking place.

The secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, announced the review on 24 September with a letter to Mr Henley. In this letter Mr Gove outlined a remit for the review, on the basis that ‘every child should receive a strong, knowledge based cultural education and should have the opportunity to play a musical instrument and to sing.’

Gove continued: ‘I recognise that children and young people are involved in a vast array of excellent music making opportunities and are experiencing an excellent music education in many parts of the country – but I also believe that there is much that can be done better to provide that level of excellence for every child.’

A number of guiding assumptions were outlined, including:

  • That music is ‘an enriching and valuable academic subject’
  • Its secondary benefits include ‘improved behaviour and social skills; and improved academic attainment in areas such as numeracy, literacy and language’
  • ‘Public funding should be used primarily to meet the government priorities of every child having the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to sing’
  • ‘There should be a clearly defined journey of musical progression, including the opportunities afforded by the Music and Dance Scheme and the publicly funded national youth music ensembles’
Mr Henley told MT: ‘My remit covers both in-school and out-of-school music, in both formal and informal settings. This is a chance for music educators to feed their views directly into central government and I would encourage everyone to have their say.’


Deborah Annetts, chair of the Music Education Council and chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, responded positively to the review. ‘We must recognise that music education in this country is world class, and a very small amount of money coming directly from central government does an incredible job. The Music Grant is absolutely key.’

According to Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive of the Federation of Music Services, ‘the FMS believes that the coalition government’s attitude will help to fine tune the quality of music education teaching, recognise attainment more fully and encourage performance.

‘The longstanding collaborations between music service heads, schools and pupils uniquely places music services within local communities, enabling them to organise the involvement of other music and cultural partners.’

However, some sectors of the music education community have offered guarded responses. Jonathan Savage, Reader at the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, told MT: ‘People ought to be asking “Why is music under review?”. I think that Michael Gove is imagining that music education is best done by giving kids the sort of thing that is in a Wider Opportunities programme – but at Key Stage 3.

‘Music education in this country has developed on the principle that actively involving children in the processes of performing, composing, evaluating music and viewing each other’s work. Just picking out one of those is a completely one-dimensional music education.’

Richard Hallam, the National Music Participation Director, is involved in the administration of the review. ‘I believe this review is genuinely open and not constrained by any pre-conceived ideas,’ he told MT.

Lincoln Abbotts, Chief Executive of Music for Youth, said the main aim should be ‘consistency, so that young people across the country get the same opportunities.’

‘I feel very positively about this review. I feel very confident about the future health of music education. But like everybody else we’re playing a waiting game that begins with the Spending Review and continues through to Darren’s report being published.’

Inside Out Festival, London, 25-31 October

18 October 2010

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is among a group of London higher education institutions which will open their doors for the Inside Out festival on 25-31 October. A week of public events will include film screenings, music and theatre performances, art and fashion exhibitions, and talks with well-known academics and commentators. Events will take place all over London at cultural venues such as the Barbican, the National Portrait Gallery and Somerset House, often in rarely-seen private spaces.

Musical events at the festival will include an open rehearsal with the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis (25 October); a Chopin Forum with Stephen Hough (25 October); wind chamber music from Guildhall students (26 October); a Q&A with Harvey Cohen about his book Duke Ellington’s America, followed by a performance by the GSMD’s Jazz Band (27 October); and ‘Minute Maestro’, a conducting masterclass with the opportunity for participants to conduct a string quartet for one minute (29 October).

Non-musical highlights include the festival’s opening debate, ‘Should the University survive in its current form?’, with panellists including The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science and AC Grayling of Birkbeck University; and a debate on ‘the Literature of New Labour’ with academics Blake Morrison, Robert Hampson and Shahidha Bari with broadcaster John O’Farrell. The festival is also accompanied by a series of week-long art exhibitions and installations at King’s College, Camberwell College of Arts, Central St Martin’s College of Art, Peckham Space, and the London College of Fashion.


Brazillian youth orchestra, based in South America's second-biggest favela, comes to London

7 October 2010

The Sinfônica Heliópolis, the youth orchestra of Brazil's Instituto Baccarelli, will give a concert of Dvorák and Villa-Lobos at London's St John's, Smith Square on Friday October 15.

The Instituto was formed in 1996 by conductor Silvio Baccarelli, from the ashes of a devastating fire in Sao Paolo's Heliópolis favela - the second-biggest slum in the South American continent.

From an original intake of 36 string players, the school is now home to nearly 2,500 students. Its patron is the Indian conductor Zubin Mehta.

Full programme:

Dvorák - Slave Dance Op.46

Villa-Lobos - Bachianas Brasilieras

Dvorák - Symphony No.8

Contact the Box Office of St John's Smith Square for tickets on +44 20 7222 1061



London Music Masters' Agata Szymczewska to debut with LPO, 13 Oct, Festival Hall

29 September 2010

Violinist Agata Szymczewska will make her debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 13 October at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Szymczewska will perform Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in a concert which also includes William Walton's Symphony no.1 and the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg's 'Al Largo'.

From 2009 to 2012, Szymczewska is one of three holders of the London Music Masters Award, which is given to three young concert violinists by music and education charity London Music Masters (LMM). With each of her fellow holders, Jennifer Pike and Elena Urioste, Szymczewska received a grant of £10,000 to put towards 'the enhancement of her musical career', just part of a prize which also includes recital dates and mentoring.

However, what is unique in the LMM Awards is that the winners are expected to participate in the Bridge Project, LMM's music education work in two Lambeth primary schools, Ashmole Primary and Jessop Primary. The three soloists regularly visit the schools to give recitals and workshops, supplementing the comprehensive programme of instrumental learning.

Currently, 250 children aged from 4 - 8 are involved in the Bridge Project, with those in the first year taking part in whole-class musicianship teaching, those in the next two years receiving violin tuition in pairs and small groups, and, finally, those in the fourth year either receiving individual violin tuition or being given support to find another instrument through the local music service.

For more information about LMM, visit the website here.

To book tickets for Agata Szymczewska's concert on 13 October, click here.

London Schools Symphony Orchestra concert: 'Russian Greats', Barbican, 28th September

27 September 2010

The London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) will present a concert of 'Russian Greats' at London's Barbican Hall on Tuesday 28th September. Guest pianist Aleksandar Madžar will Rachmaninov's third piano concerto, while the programme also includes Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla and Stravinsky's classic ballet score Petrouchka.

The LSSO is the top performing group at the Centre for Young Musicians, a Centre for Advanced Training administered by the City of London on behalf of all subscribing London boroughs.

Full programme

Rachmaninov Concerto No 3 in D minor for Piano & Orchestra, Op 30
Glinka Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla
Stravinsky Petrouchka (1947 version)



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