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Youth Music Box starts its tour

17 July 2009

Youth Music's celebratory 'Youth Music Box', created to mark the charity's tenth anniversary, was unveiled at the Southbank Centre, London, on 16 July. Developed by music and graphics designers Silent Studio with interactive artist Chris O'Shea, it is a cubed structure that visitors can enter, providing an easily accessible music experience though a mix of real instruments and a 'walk up and play' technology interface.

Four players at a time can use the box and they will have the choice of four instruments: two Edirol MII keyboards (one for vocals, the other for melody); a Roland TD-9K drumkit; and a Denon 3700S digi-media turntable, which will create and record the track. Users will have a choice of six musical styles: reggae, drum'n'bass, urban, afro beat, classical and disco/electro.

After selecting a sample track to keep the beat and play along to, they will have a chance to rehearse before making a recording of their track. The box also has remotely-operated cameras to film the process and behind the scenes, two technicians in the control room will combin the camera feeds with graphics to create a finished package that will be uploaded to where people can view and share their videos.

The Youth Music Box is open 11am-7pm daily in the cloakroom lobby on Level 1 of the Royal Festival Hall, next to the Clore Ballroom, until 31 August, It will then tour the country.

Schools minister announces five new music partnerships

17 July 2009

Tim Steiner
Tim SteinerClare Stevens

Five new Music Partnership Projects for 2009/10 have been announced by the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Diana Johnson. £1m from the government's £330m funding for music education announced in November 2007 will be divided between the projects. The winning bids came from Northamptonshire, Wiltshire (both led by Orchestras Live), Hertfordshire, Birmingham and east London (led by the Barbican). Details are as follows:

Northamptonshire/Orchestras Live - Connected to Music
Partners: Orchestras Live; Northampton Music and Performing Arts Service (NMPAS); Learning Achievement & School Improvement Services (LASI); the Royal & Derngate, Northampton; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO); Sinfonia Viva
Project: The aim is to create a model of music education delivery in Northamptonshire that connects young people's music learning in the classroom, particularly those in Wider Opportunities and transition years, to a wide range of music-making opportunities outside the classroom, supported by a team of professional musicians.
At the heart of the project is the empowerment of music teachers to inspire young people to achieve the highest possible standard and fulfil their potential. With the creative leadership of Tim Steiner (pictured, leading the Music for Youth Big Gig at the London International Music Show in June), an ensemble will be formed to deliver a variety of different musical experiences, ranging from creative workshops to full-scale performances at Royal & Derngate.

Birmingham - Banded About

Partners: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Birminghm Jazz; Birmingham Music Service; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Sound It Out Community Music; Town Hall Symphony Hall, including associate partners Ex Cathedra chamber choir. They will be working with five clusters of Birmingham schools.

Project: The basis of the project is creative ensemble practice across the transition years between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. Children and young people wll be given opportunities to develop and perform music stimulated by the diverse musical genres and cultural backgrounds of the partner organisations. Musicians from these partner companies will work alongside the school teachers and the peripatetic teachers of the Birmingham Music Service to deliver this programme both in the curriculum and at specially convened workshops across each cluster. The professional development of all these teachers and musicians is another key aim of the project.

Hertfordshire - Count Us In

Partners: Hertfordshire Music Service and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, supported by Orchestras Live, working with 12 secondary schools and Year 6 pupils from feeder primary schools.

Project: Count Us In will deliver a range of music-making and performance opportunities in the county, both in and out of school. More than 350 music workshops will be delivered by musicians from the RPO, working closely with the staff and secondary heads of music, responding to the needs of the local area and the views of the young people involved, providing them with regular showcase opportunities throughout the year. By the end of this year 12 specific music projects will be established across nine districts: Dacorum, St Albans, Stevenage, Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Potters Bar, Welwyn Hatfield and Watford. Creative youth boards, drawn from participants in each project, will inform the development of the programme and help shape the projects.

East London/Barbican - Connecting Musics of the World

Partners: Barbican Centre,Guildhall School of Music and Drama and London Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the ten east-facing London education authority music services: Hackney, Greenwich, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Havering, Lewisham and Redbridge.

Project: The aim is to develop collaboratve models of music-making with a focus on contemporary music genres and traditions from across the globe, including jazz, folk, African, American, South Asian and beyond. There are six strands of activity: Schools concerts for up to 7,000 young Londoners; introductory music workshops for 1,500 young people; 'Side by side' performance opportunities for 150 young people working alongside professional musicians; Guildhall Connect's 'World in Motion' strand, taking in musical influences from across the globe, for 400 young people; interactive schools concerts from the LSO for up to 2,500 young people; and an LSO Fusion strand that will engage 75 young people at risk of social exclusion with LSO players.

Wiltshire - Wiltshire Music Connect

Partners: Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire Council Music Service and Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership (part of the county's youth service), working with young people of all ages, from pre-school to adulthood.

Project: Approximately 400 workshops and 12 performances involving 4.000 children and young people will take place, aiming to inspire a lifelong passion among participants for all types of music, from classical to world music and urban. There are seven key strands of work, and opportunities will range from tots performing a 'Farmyard Suite' and teenagers working with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to young people with severe learning difficulties creating their own music and young adults using the latest music technologies, or taking part in an intensive jazz improvisation workshop.

Liverpool In Harmony makes its debut

17 July 2009

The West Everton Children's Orchestra gave its debut performance on 13 July, playing alongside members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) at Philharmonic Hall, in the presence of Julian Lloyd Webber, schools minister Diana Johnson, and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, writes Glyn Mon Hughes. The concert by the 81-piece orchestra was the culmination of the first phase of the RLPO's In Harmony programme. The programme, being piloted in London and Norwich as well as in Liverpool, is based on the inspirational Venezuelan music project El Sistema.
It is a mere 12 weeks since 92 free instruments were delivered to Faith Primary School in West Everton, a deprived area on the outer fringes of Liverpool city centre, adjacent to the RLPO's rehearsal facility. Every day the children, as well as 11 members of staff including teachers, teaching assistants, the school's headteacher, school secretary and dinner ladies participate in musical activities.
'Today was a highly moving experience,' said Lloyd Webber, chairman of the In Harmony programme. 'We often refer to performances as moving but to see what has been achieved here in 12 weeks is astonishing. just imagine what these children can achieve in the future.'

Llangollen Eisteddfod to become year-round education centre

17 July 2009

A new plan has been launched to turn the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod into a year-round  resource for music education, writes Glyn Mon Hughes. The new venture between the Eisteddfod, held annually in July at the North Wales town, and Wales Arts International, part of the Arts Council of Wales, will see a nine-month pilot project put in place, with the aim of improving choral directing nationally.

'The intention is to move to a greater year-round presence, undertaking more outreach activities,' said Mervyn Cousins, executive director of the Eisteddfod. 'We're in constant touch with our contacts round the world who provide their talents for us on six days each year, but we felt that we weren't really maximising those contacts, and the new poject will help us do that. I certainly hope it will lead to other similar projects in other areas, particularly in the field of education. We feel strongly that by employing these internationally recognised experts we will enable them to act as a conduit for development in Wales.

'While there are many excellent choral irectors in Wales, we are often told that people would like to spend time improving their training techniques or thinking about expanding their repertoire,' added Cousins. 'Now they can do that with some of th best directors from around the world.'

Three days of mentoring from choral directors in Wales are planned, together with a preliminary day at Llangollen in the autumn. with Mervyn Cousins and Peter Broadbent. A two-day event with a range of international music directors is planned for the spring.

Schools department plans a year of music

17 July 2009

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, has announced plans for a national year celebrating music, starting this September.

To coincide with Shine Week, which celebrated young people's talents in everything from sewing to singing, Balls outlined the plan for a national campaign 'to give every child the chance to get more from music', which will run throughout the 2009/10 academic year and offer 'unprecedented opportunities for children and young people across the country to participate in a range of music-related activities'.  In addition to performance, these will include activities such as learning to manage a music production or write lyrics.

The campaign is intended to provide a spotlight for the work schools are already doing as well as to inspire new activity, leadership and commitment to music education. Letters have been sent to schools and potential stakeholders outlining the plans and the Department for Children, Schools and Families will be running a series of briefings during August to discuss engagement opportunities.

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