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Year of Music launched with ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’

3 September 2009

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is calling on schools across the country to take part in a 30-minute music ‘lesson’ streamed live at lunchtime on Thursday 10 September to officially launch 2009/10 as the government’s Year of Music.

A host of music industry names will be featured, including Slash, Danni Minogue, Damon Albarn, The Hoosiers, Guy Chambers, Katherine Jenkins, DJ Yoda, Vanessa Mae, N-Dubz, the cast of Wicked, the cast of Billy Elliot and English National Ballet, who have all pre-recorded three minute segments. Jamie Cullum, W Brown and Killa Kela will perform live and answer pupils’ pre-submitted questions.

The lesson, which is aimed at Year 7, 8 and 9 students, will be introduced from Twyford CE High School in Acton, west London, and will be streamed country-wide via an interactive whiteboard. It is hoped that the ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’ will inspire and guide pupils through the world of music, from the beginnings of picking up an instrument through to making it as a professional. Writing lyrics, forming a band, choreographing and performing live will all be discussed, with insights provided by the featured musical ambassadors.

The Year of Music was announced in July by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, who outlined the campaign’s plan ‘to give every child the chance to get more from music’. With a broad focus, the Year of Music will include projects such as managing a musical production as well as performance and other more traditional musical activities. Funding has been pre-allocated from the £332m ear-marked for supporting music in schools in the Comprehensive Spending Review 2008-11.

Schools wishing to take part in the ‘World’s Ultimate Music Lesson’, or any future Year of Music events, should contact for full details

ABCD sets up new choral training unit

3 September 2009

The Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) is to create a new training unit, headed by Peter Broadbent, founder conductor of the Joyful Company of Singers. Broadbent, who is also an experienced international adjudicator and workshop leader, has hitherto been in charge of developing ABCD’s conducting courses.

His new appointment with an expanded remit was announced on 30 August at the ABCD’s annual convention in Winchester. ‘Our training and development programme is at the heart of what we do,’ said ABCD chair Jonathan Startup. ‘Peter will have a core team to assist him in developing new courses and his role will also include overseeing the content of conventions and other events.

Startup added that the Sing Up initiative, in which ABCD is a partner, and recent television coverage of choral music, had created ‘huge opportunities’ for the organisation. ‘We aim to build on the success of last year. ABCD members have played a part in the resurgence of interest in choral music and we’d like to see every leader of choral singing getting appropriate support.’

Take It Away for cancer charity

3 September 2009

Practice-a-thon Music – the music fundraising initiative from children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent – is expanding its activities this year in partnership with Arts Council England’s Take It Away scheme, which provides interest-free loans towards the purchase of music instruments.  

Since 2002, Practice-a-thon Music has raised over half a million pounds by encouraging people of all ages to get sponsored to practise, play and perform to help raise money for families affected by childhood cancer. This year, the organisation is pooling its contacts and resources with Take It Away, which will provide endorsement and practical support for the campaign.  

In addition, there will be a more interactive slant, thanks to the involvement of Participants will be able to download five exclusive music tutorials to help them prepare for the Practice-a-thon. Each tutorial covers a song from a wide variety of popular music genres, from Motown to Take That. Tracks can be played or sung individually or with a band or group.  

The scheme has also attracted celebrity endorsement from Gary Barlow, Jamie Cullum and Russell Watson. Watson said: ‘Making music has given me a focus, enormous enjoyment and has got me through some very dark times.  I’m best known as a singer and consider the voice to be an instrument that requires plenty of practice, but I think it’s fair to say that having tried to play guitar, that will certainly require a lot more practice for me!  Roll on Practice-a-thon!  I’m playing my part and I’m delighted to be raising money for children with cancer in the process.’    

Practice-a-thon Music takes place during the whole academic year from September to July. The event involves musicians of all ages and abilities getting sponsored to practise their musical instrument for an agreed time, ranging from five minutes to five hours per day, over any period, but usually for around two weeks. More information and registrations for this year’s campaign:

Three young pianists share top prize in Manchester concerto competition

27 August 2009

Three performers shared first prize in the junior section (16 and under) of the second Manchester International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists, held at the Royal Northern College of Music 15-22 August, in association with Rhinegold Publishing, the Manchester Camerata, Manchester Evening News and Chetham’s School. The jury were unanimous in their verdict that Dominic Degavino (14) from the UK, Jonathan Mak (12) from Canada and Yuanfan Yang (12) from the UK gave such exceptional performances that the only result could be an equal reward. Degavino performed the Concerto No 3 in D major Op 50 by Kabalebvsky, Mak the Concerto No 27 in B flat K595 by Mozart and Yang the Concert No 1 in E minor Op 11 by Chopin. Gabrielle Chou (14) and Nicholas Ryba (15) from the USA, Luke Jones (14) from the UK and Cason King (16) from Singapore were highly commended semi-finalists in the junior section.

The senior competition (22 and under) was won by Tudor Scripcariu (22) from Romania, who played Beethoven’s Concert No 3 in C minor Op 50. In second place was Sung-Jae Kim (20) from South Korea, who played Chopin’s first concerto, while third place was shared by two more South Koreans, Yoon-Seok Shin (22) who played Beethoven’s Concert No 2 in B flat Op 19, and Sungpil Kim (20) who played Chopin’s first concerto. Manos Charalabopoulos (18) from Greece and Kentaro Nagai (22) were highly commended.

All the competitors were accompanied by the Manchester Camerata, conducted by Stephen Threlfall, director of music at Chetham’s. The jury consisted of Joseph Banowetz (USA), Marcella Crudelli (Italy), Peter Donohoe (UK), Leslie Howard(UK), Radolslav Kvapil (Czech Republic), Noriko Ogawa (Japan) and Vladimir Tropp (Russia),

New dates added for ABRSM pre-exam seminars

24 August 2009

Four additional London dates have been added to the ABRSM's seminars offering exam candidates, their teachers and parents an insight into what is in store for them. Held in music shops, the ABRSM's London headquarters and other centres around the UK, the workshops are presented by Anthony Williams. They offer hints on how to maximise results in all parts of an exam: set pieces, scales, aural tests and sight-reading. All those attending receive a copy of the official ABRSM marking criteria, and they will see video examples of performances that achieved a variety of marks over a range of grades.

The first seminar takes place in Britsol on 12 September. More information from the ABRSM website

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