Ed Miliband's plan to reduce tuition fees 'could damage conservatoires'
11 March 2015
Standards in the UK’s conservatoires could suffer under Labour’s proposal to reduce university tuition fees to £6,000 a year, according to leading figures in music education.
In February, Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party would cut tuition fees in England from £9,000 to £6,000 per year from autumn 2016. He said his party would pay for the reduction by reducing tax relief on pensions for people earning more than £150,000 per year.
Linda Merrick, principal of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (pictured), said: ‘To train a student in one of the world’s leading conservatoires costs about £20,000 a year. At the moment we have institution-specific funding, which fills the gap between the £9,000 and the additional cost of the intensive tuition, facilities and resources we need to provide for students.
‘I know there is a pledge from Labour to fill that gap, but that is absolutely critical to us if we are to remain competitive internationally.’
Asked whether the standard of training in conservatoires might suffer if tuition fees were reduced, Merrick said: ‘Unless that gap is filled, inevitably it will. The Labour party seems to be putting together a financial plan that will fill the gap, but if not it will compromise our ability to remain internationally competitive.’
Merrick added that conservatoires were at a disadvantage compared with universities: ‘All of our students are doing music degrees. A bigger university can spread funding across departments, whereas an independent music conservatoire cannot.’
Hilary Boulding, principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, added: ‘There are particular issues and risks for courses whose cost structure is greater than the current £9,000 fee.
'For many small and specialist institutions – like conservatoires and drama schools, as well as more expensive subjects like medicine and dentistry – the real cost of these courses is well above £9,000.’
Transformation Trust seeks UK's best school bands for Act 10 competition
10 March 2015
Pupils who play music together are being encouraged to enter a competition to find the UK’s best school band, with the winner set to perform to a 10,000-strong crowd at Wembley Arena.
Education charity the Transformation Trust, which funds extra-curricular activities in schools, is calling for entries to its Act 10 competition, which is open to schools where an above-average percentage of pupils are on free school meals.
The winning band will perform on the main stage at the charity’s Rock Assembly concert and careers fair at Wembley Arena on 1 July, with ten runners-up getting the chance to play on a smaller stage.
This year’s full line-up has not yet been announced but previous performers have included Professor Green, the Saturdays, Ella Eyre and Tinchy Stryder.
Entrants to the Act 10 competition must fill in a form and provide a link to their band performing live. The bands will be judged on their business acumen as well as their musical ability and must provide detailed ideas for the marketing and launch of their debut album.
The competition was run for the first time last year and was won by Hex, a rock and rap music band from Greenwood Academy in Birmingham.
David Dawnay, project manager for Rock Assembly, said: ‘We want to get the message out to music teachers across the country who have bands in their schools.
‘Last year we had a real mix of entries, from indie to hip-hop to classical. In terms of the judging, we don’t discriminate – it’s about how well the band can play and how well their campaign has been thought about.’
The competition is open to schools where more than 21 per cent of pupils receive free schools meals. Teachers have until 24 April to submit applications on behalf of their students.
For an application form or to find out whether your school is eligible, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Gibb and Kevin Brennan in Music Education Expo debate
9 March 2015
The schools minister and shadow schools minister will battle to win the votes of music teachers as they take part in a joint Q&A session at Rhinegold Publishing’s Music Education Expo this week.
On Thursday 12 March at the Barbican Centre in London, Nick Gibb and Kevin Brennan will each give a short presentation on their vision for music education before taking questions from the floor and submitted via Twitter in advance.
Music education professionals are being encouraged to submit questions using using the hashtags #quiztheministers and #MusicEdExpo.
Ciaran Morton, managing director of Rhinegold Publishing, said: ‘As we rapidly head towards a general election, we are giving teachers the opportunity to ask Nick Gibb and Kevin Brennan to share their vision of education in the UK for the future.
‘We hope they will also talk specifically about the role of the arts, especially music, in the curriculum as well as the development of the child.’
The Music Education Expo is the UK’s largest exhibition and conference for music teachers, with more than 50 sessions taking place across two days and 2,500 teachers taking part. The event also features a trade exhibition with more than 130 exhibitors.
Tickets are free, but must be booked online in advance.
Gareth Malone becomes Music for All ambassador
6 March 2015
Gareth Malone has been made an ambassador for Music for All, the charity that aims to give people from all backgrounds access to music and musical instruments.
The choral conductor and TV presenter, who is best known for hosting BBC programmes such as The Choir and The Big Performance, said: ‘I was very lucky to grow up in a house full of singing, which made me the musician I am today.
‘Without having a piano in our house, that I could play at any time, I wouldn’t be working in music now. The work that Music for All does is very important in helping the next generation of musicians realise their potential.’
Music for All visits schools to offer ‘taster’ sessions and offers grants for children whose parents cannot afford to buy them instruments. Its flagship event is the annual Learn to Play Day, which invites the general public to have free ‘taster’ lessons on a musical instrument at music stores and venues across the country.
The fourth Learn to Play Day is expected to provide more than 10,000 free lessons and takes place on 21-22 March.
Guildhall funds research into Noriko Ogawa autism concerts
5 March 2015
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has commissioned a research project into how attending concerts can help the parents and carers of children with autism.
The research will be carried out by a team of academics at the school alongside Noriko Ogawa (pictured), the Japanese pianist behind the Jamie’s Concerts series for the carers of children with autism.
Ogawa launched Jamie’s Concerts 11 years ago, inspired by the son of a family she had been lodging with in the UK. They are intended to give parents and carers a formal opportunity to relax, unwind and share experiences.
Ogawa said: ‘I have always wanted some form of academic backup for what I am doing. It has always been emotionally driven, but I would like to find out if the concerts can be considered objectively good as well. And if anything could be done better or help us to achieve more, I would like to know.’
Jamie’s Concerts take place regularly in Japan, and in 2010 Ogawa also launched the series in the UK. This year, they will take place at venues including the Guildhall and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. She has been made a cultural ambassador for the National Autistic Society in recognition of her work, a role that will be formally launched in the spring.
Ogawa first approached John Sloboda, director of the Guildhall’s Understanding Audiences research programme, in autumn last year. The pair submitted an application to the school’s Research Centre and last week were awarded a grant of £2,460 to fund research from now until December.
Sloboda will carry out the research alongside psychologist, singer and teacher Karen Wise and music therapy specialist Alison Barrington. The team met for the first time on Wednesday and will begin the project by handing out questionnaires at Jamie’s Concerts before selecting volunteers for more in-depth research.
Ogawa said: ‘This is extremely important to me because it comes from my own personal experience. I lived with the family for two years and I understand what it’s like. It was very tough to cope with Jamie. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t, so I decided to help his mother. I’m not a doctor, a nurse or a teacher, but what I can do is give a concert.
‘I just want to know that the concerts are a good thing. I’m not expecting anything but if the research shows an overall positive effect, that would be great.’
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