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Teaching Materials 2015

British Music Education Yearbook

Music Pages
Music Teacher Guide about Music and Dyslexia

Latest News

NCOGB appoints new managing director

29 September 2015

Dominic Jewel
Dominic Jewel

Dominic Jewel has been appointed as the new managing director of the National Children's Orchestras of Great Britain.

Jewel joins the NCOGB from the Three Choirs Festival, where he has been chief executive for the past three years. He is a proud NCO alumnus and passionate about the involvement of young people in classical music.

NCO artistic director and principal conductor Roger Clarkson said: ‘I am greatly looking forward to Dominic joining NCOGB and to building a strong executive partnership with him. We have made tremendous progress over the past year, and the future is bright indeed. We will be building on strong foundations as we work alongside each other to take this wonderful organisation forward into the next phase of its development.'

Jewel is expected to take up his post early in 2016, until which time Carrie Sage will continue as NCO's acting executive director.

National Children's Orchestras of Great Britain

Bristol Plays Music opens two new centres

29 September 2015

Bristol Plays Music has opened two new music centres.

The Bristol Music Centre South (based at Merchants’ Academy) and the Bristol Centre for Young Musicians (based at Bristol Cathedral Choir School) will help Bristol Plays Music achieve its aim to support 10,000 young people learning, playing and performing music in the city.

The two new centres build upon the success of facilities at Henbury Secondary School, Cotham Secondary School and Stanton Road, Southmead, and respond to demand for more choirs, bands and ensembles.

The Bristol Music Centre South will host the Bristol Modern Orchestra, the South Side Choir, and Creative Music Technology sessions on Saturdays, all of which cost £25 for two terms. Orchestra rehearsals include sectional coaching, while choir sessions emphasise progression of part singing, vocal blend and tone. The technology sessions are run in collaboration with Knowle West Media Centre’s XLR sessions, and aim to familiarise young musicians with processes of recording, composing and production. 

The Bristol Centre for Young Musicians will hold masterclasses, musicianship classes, ensemble development sessions, instrumental lessons, and a termly performance programme. Classes are taught by conservatoire teachers and performers from some of the UK’s leading orchestras. For a double term, shared lessons will cost £115 for 30 minutes and £200 for 60 minutes, or £200 for 30 minutes and £370 for 60 minutes for individual lessons. 

Bristol Plays Music is Arts Council England’s music education hub for Bristol. As part of Bristol Music Trust, it works with Colston Hall to ensure every young person has access to music education activities and performance opportunities. 

Bristol Plays Music

Improved SATS results for schools working with Opera North

29 September 2015

Children from Bude Park Primary School performing at their 2015 end of year concert
Children from Bude Park Primary School performing at their 2015 end of year concertDarren Casey

Children of Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle participate in a workshop with the Chorus of Opera North
Children of Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle participate in a workshop with the Chorus of Opera NorthSimon Marshall

Two primary schools which are participating in intensive music programmes run by Opera North have seen a dramatic increase in SATS results.

Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, Leeds (In Harmony Opera North), and Bude Park Primary School in Bransholme, Hull (Opera North Singing School) have both seen increases of up to 20% in the results of the tests (taken by those aged ten and 11). 

The schools allocate up to three hours within curriculum time every week, which teachers believe enhances pupils’ personal and academic development.

At Windmill Primary School, 2015 results in Key Stage 2 SATS exams have increased the percentage of children attaining a Level 4 in reading from 78% in 2014 to 98.7% in 2015. In writing, 86.7% achieved Level 4 or above, up from 75.6%, while the results in Maths increased from 73.2% to 93.3% of children attaining Level 4 or above.
In Harmony Opera North began working in Windmill Primary School in January 2013. In addition to musical activity during curriculum time, many children attend Opera North ‘After School’ music sessions three times a week. All of the children regularly perform to family and friends, and they have all had the opportunity to perform at several events with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North; initiatives which helped parental engagement with the school rise from 7%-39% in 2013. 

Andy Gamble, executive headteacher at Windmill Primary School, said: ‘I am delighted with these results, which prove that the In Harmony Opera North programme at Windmill Primary School continues to go from strength to strength. We have observed many significant effects on the pupils’ skills such as teamwork, co-operation, social skills and self-confidence.’

The Opera North Singing School has also offered pupils at Bude Park Primary School regular performance opportunities; some of these have been with members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North. After this first year of delivery, the school’s Key Stage 2 SATs results have increased the percentage of children attaining a Level 4 in Reading from 80% in 2014 to 96% in 2015. Lower down the school in Key Stage 1 the school’s SATS results have increased from 81% in Mathematics in 2014 to 96% in 2015. 

In Harmony Opera North and Opera North Singing School are part of Opera North Education’s community residency strand, which aims to encourage sustained arts engagement in challenged communities and deliver wider benefits such as increased confidence, aspiration, enhanced health and wellbeing. 

Opera North

RPS launches Musical Routes report

25 September 2015

A report into the provision of musical education for school-aged children and young people has concluded that the national strategy for music education is not being evenly delivered.

‘Musical Routes, A Landscape for Music Education’, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and authored by Sarah Derbyshire, examines the provision of music education for school-aged children and young people in England, evaluating the equality of access, the nature of opportunities offered, and how well these opportunities help individuals to fulfil their musical potential.

The report identifies the lack of an infrastructure ‘that knits together the many and various strands for delivery’. The current structure for music education is acknowledged as complex and disjointed, with insufficient communication of opportunities both between organisations and to children, families, carers and teachers.

The report recognises a bias towards learning via the formal exam structure, and a tendency to downplay those who choose alternative routes to learn. It concludes that the sector has yet to embrace fully the richness and diversity of musical forms and the ways in which young people engage with music, and recommends that mechanisms are put into place to encourage Music Education Hubs to extend their horizons beyond local areas and embedded practices.

Other recommendations include ensuring that children are aware of the pathways open to them, encouraging an entrepreneurial approach to developing teaching models, and ensuring that a national statement of music education gives equal weight to different pathways, with each striving for musical excellence.

To implement these recommendations, the report suggests implementing a network of national musical mentors and champions to widen diversity in music, creating a national online music education map and resource centre to improve communication, and launching a national celebration of young people’s many and varied musical achievements.

It also recommends instituting six building blocks for musical progression:

  • Singing
  • Reading music
  • Access to instrumental tuition – formal and informal – with feedback on progress
  • Introduction of relevant digital technology
  • Attending live performance
  • Creative involvement – composition, improvisation, performance of their own work
Speaking at the launch of the report at Wigmore Hall on 25 September, RPS chief executive Rosemary Johnson suggested that we don’t celebrate variety enough and cautioned that the aim was ‘evolution, not revolution’. ‘There's much extraordinary work in the music sector, yet so many are still missing out’.

Presenting her findings, Sarah Derbyshire highlighted regression, diversity and workforce as concerns, but also recognised that there was ‘much to celebrate’ since the introduction of a national plan. She said: ‘Let us try making the musician the starting point of what we do.’

Dame Evelyn Glennie, who was presented with her Royal Philharmonic Society honorary membership at the event, said: ‘It is important that the music profession takes careful note of areas of difficulty highlighted in the report, and comes together to find a way forward. We need to inspire, to create, to engage and to empower every child with an interest in music to fulfill his or her potential.’

The 'Musical Routes' report

ABRSM launches Aural Trainer 6-8

24 September 2015

ABRSM's Aural Trainer for Grades 6–8 is now available to download.

The app helps students to prepare for all the individual elements of ABRSM aural tests through a series of interactive challenges.

With Aural Trainer 6–8, users can:
Exercise their musical memory (remember how music sounds and learn to repeat it)
Develop confidence and accuracy at sight-singing (reading and singing the music on screen)
Improve recognition of cadences, chords and modulations
Learn to describe texture, structure, dynamics, articulation, tempo and tonality
Practise identifying the features in music that make up its style and character
Develop the skills to know when a piece of music was written  

The app can be used anytime or anywhere for personal practice, or during lessons. Exercises can be taken in any order, and can be repeated as often as necessary. A progress page helps students to keep track of their achievements.

The app follows on from the Aural Trainer for Grades 1–5. Both apps are compatible with iPhone, iPod touch. 

Those interested can download the free 'lite' version before purchasing the full app.

ABRSM Aural Trainer

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