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Derry’s schoolchildren to get free instruments and lessons

14 November 2011

Up to 9,000 children in Derry in Northern Ireland are to receive free music instruments and lessons in a new initiative that organisers claim is the first project of its kind anywhere in the world, and 'could change the way music is taught in the curriculum'.

The Children’s Music Promise will be launched as part of year-long celebrations when Derry becomes the UK’s first City of Culture in 2013. It will operate in 15 newly created, localised 'projects' and be delivered by the multimedia, youth arts-focused Nerve Centre in partnership with the Ulster Orchestra, the Western Education and Library Board, and Neighbourhood Partnership Boards.

Part of a raft of participatory schemes currently in development in a wider programme of events with estimated costs of £20m, the programme aims to ensure participation by all of the city’s schoolchildren aged 13 and younger.

Garbhan Downey, director of marketing and communications for the City of Culture Company overseeing the celebrations, said the scheme was already attracting international interest 'as a model of excellence on how to teach children music. Creative and cultural provision for children and young people has been declared a 'top priority' for Derry’s tenure as City of Culture, and has also seen it shortlisted for designation as a UNICEF Child Friendly City.

The Children’s Music Promise will be one of the largest individual projects mounted in the city during 2013 and is expected to also include opportunities for the young musicians to perform in public.


Southbank Centre's head of music leaves to take two roles with El Sistema

8 November 2011

Marshall Marcus, head of music at London’s Southbank Centre, is to leave the role in order to take up two new appointments which link the venue with El Sistema, the Venezuelan social initiative which has brought orchestral music to thousands of disadvantaged children.

'I feel privileged to be able to carry forward my commitment and enthusiasm for Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema, while at the same time retaining a close connection with Southbank Centre.' said Marcus. 'I have enjoyed five spectacular years at Southbank Centre and am honoured by the invitation to establish an orchestra in Venezuela alongside the project to further cement ties between Southbank Centre and Venezuela.'

The two positions are special project advisor for Southbank Centre’s El Sistema project, and director of the Simón Bolívar Music Foundation’s Venezuelan Baroque Music Programme. Marcus, who will remain based at the Southbank, has spent much of the autumn in Venezuela as a guest of El Sistema. He has had a longstanding relationship with the organisation since its establishment in the 1970s, and believes the project will allow him to focus his work on the international development of El Sistema. The project, said a spokesman at the Southbank, will see Marcus working on the development of a business plan which supports a wide range of music partnerships nationally and internationally, advising the Centre for Social Action Through Music in Caracas, and facilitating staffing exchanges between the two organisations.

Still no sign of National Plan for Music as Gove booed at Schools Prom

8 November 2011

The National Plan for Music Education, which will set out government policy for music education in England from September 2012, is still yet to be published by the Department for Education.

There had been rumours of a planned announcement by education secretary Michael Gove at last night's Music for Youth Schools Prom (7 November). However, with the report unpublished and Gove greeted on to the stage by booing from the audience, the minister remained silent on the matter.

The national plan will outline government policy on music education based on the recommendations of Darren Henley's review of the sector published earlier this year, and is expected to focus on encouraging music services, LEAs and regional performance groups to work together in what Henley called 'regional music education hubs'.

The plan will be implemented from September 2012 and with the report still unpublished it is unclear how music education bodies will have the necessary time to prepare for any new way of working. Moreover, the level of funding for music education activity is still unknown. Richard Hallam, national music education grant director, had initially said the plan was expected 'no later than the end of September'.

Gove was last night welcomed onto the stage by Schools Prom host Margherita Taylor to present two awards for the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year. As members of the audience booed, Taylor was forced into crowd control:

'Now now, we're all friends on this stage tonight,' said Taylor. 'Especially when there could be exciting news on the way soon hopefully for music education programmes in our schools, so we look forward to hearing more about that.'

With all eyes on Mr Gove, the education secretary made no mention of the National Plan and moved on to presenting the awards. 'Thank you so much,' he said, 'it's been an amazing night for music education and I've been privileged to be in the audience.'

Gove presented the awards to Kathryn Smith of Silkstone Common Junior and Infant School (Primary School Music Teacher of the Year) and Sheila Cornall of Wycombe High School (Secondary School Music Teacher of the Year). Peripatetic, SEN, new teacher and lifetime achievement awards will be presented on 8 and 9 November.


Yorkshire Libraries and Information Music and Drama Service faces closure

3 November 2011

The country’s largest music and drama lending library is facing closure because of a lack of money. The Yorkshire Libraries and Information Music and Drama Service, which is based in Wakefield, contains more than half a million scores and 90,000 scripts.

Twelve local authorities currently subscribe to the service - Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield and York - enabling local music and drama groups to enjoy subsidised loans of materials. But they says they 'are no longer able to bridge the gap between income and expenditure' and therefore support the decision to end the service. The Library also has problems with its building and an enforced move to new premises would further add to the shortfall.

There are now plans to either divide the collection across sub-regional library authorities, or gifting the collection, or parts of the collection, to other authorities, institutions or groups. Robin Osterley, chief executive of Making Music, said, 'The rule among choirs all over the country is try your local library first, then Wakefield. It will be devastating if that ceases to be the case.'

Youth Music launches new funding model

3 November 2011

Youth Music has launched its new funding model with the aim of supporting 'organisations aiming to make a real difference, helping children and young people with least opportunities develop and progress in and through music making.'

As before, the Youth Music's funding is based on grants, with most funding available through an open access approach. Now, those seeking funding can apply via the Youth Music Network website. The new funding model, entitled the Youth Music Programme, comprises a new knowledge-sharing network and grants programme.

All information on applying for funding from the Youth Music Programme can be found on the Youth Music Network site: www.youthmusic.org.uk/network

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