Music teacher Judith Kleinman launches Chairs for Children campaign
21 April 2015
A double bass player and teacher at the Junior Royal Academy of Music is heading a campaign for schools to provide children with more comfortable chairs.
Judith Kleinman, who is also a qualified Alexander Technique teacher, launched the Chairs for Children campaign after noticing that many of her students were complaining of back pain.
Backed by the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT), the campaign is calling for changes to the European standard, which allows school chairs to slope backwards by five degrees.
The STAT says backward-sloping chairs encourage children to adopt poor posture, increasing the risk of back pain during their school years and later in life.
An online petition calling for the regulations to be changed says: ‘As poor postural habits are a root cause of back and neck pain, continuing to allow school chairs to slope backwards will, without doubt, escalate back problems among today’s schoolchildren and for generations to come.
‘We believe that the effects of such a seemingly innocuous object on the health of our children and future generations should be researched further and reviewed.’
She studied Alexander Technique with Patrick MacDonald and Shoshana Kamanitz and is an assistant director at the London Centre for Alexander Technique and Training.
Kleinman said: ‘Some of my students find it very difficult to sit or stand for more than a few minutes. They’re restless and exhausted.
‘We’re really letting young people down by not recognising the long-term harm caused by a backward-sloping chair.’
Don’t Stop the Music taken on by industry bodies
20 April 2015
James Rhodes: ‘Don’t Stop the Music gave me sleepless nights’Channel 4
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Music Industries Association (MIA) have announced they will ‘work in association’ on the Don’t Stop the Music campaign, which launched last year alongside a Channel 4 documentary featuring pianist James Rhodes.
The campaign aims to improve music teaching in schools and last year ran a musical instrument amnesty to coincide with the television broadcast.
Rhodes said of the campaign and its development: ‘The findings from the initial stages of Don’t Stop the Music gave me sleepless nights. Music education is in desperate need of support from the government, and with May’s election fast approaching, it is important that music education is not forgotten by whoever forms the next government. I am delighted that the ISM, in association with MIA, has agreed to become an integral part of this campaign.’
The report following Ofsted’s recent consultation on its proposals for inspection reform – which will be implemented from September – noted responses from ‘many parents and others’ received as a direct result of the campaign, all calling for a specific focus on music. It said: ‘Ofsted cannot commit to focusing inspection disproportionately on an individual subject. However, we agree with the broader point that inspection must take account of whether schools offer a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum … we will consider the breadth and balance of a provider’s curriculum under the effectiveness of leadership and management judgement.’
Royal College of Music appoints John Simpson Architects for £25m redevelopment
16 April 2015
The Royal College of Music (RCM) has unveiled plans for a £25m redevelopment including two new concert halls.
The conservatoire in South Kensington, London, has appointed John Simpson Architects to work on the project and planning permission is being sought for works to start in 2016.
The new facilities will be built at the college’s main campus on Prince Consort Road, which also includes the newly restored Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall and the Britten Theatre.
The two proposed performance spaces will seat 150 and 90 people. There will also be additional practice rooms, new recording and broadcasting facilities and improved access and circulation around the site, including step-free access.
In addition, he RCM’s Museum of Music will benefit from a new permanent home.
Colin Lawson, director of the Royal College of Music, said: ‘This is a vital development for the RCM. We have always been a home for creative pioneers and our physical spaces must keep pace with our artistic ambitions.
‘The development of our courtyard space will radically enhance our facilities. John Simpson Architects provide an exceptional understanding of manipulation of space, light and material, and have designed a new building that will stand alongside and acknowledge the historic importance and quality of our original buildings.’
Lord Winston, chairman of the Royal College of Music, added: ‘John Simpson’s vision makes best use of the RCM’s space and was unanimously selected by the RCM Council.
‘In extending the language of the existing building, his design showcases a sensitive response to the RCM’s Victorian heritage. The proposed works will unlock the RCM’s potential and secure its long-term future as a world-leading music conservatoire.’
HRH the Prince of Wales has agreed to be patron of the RCM’s More Music campaign to fund the building development.
Mixed results for music education hubs, says NFER report
15 April 2015
The music education hubs established by the government three years ago have made good progress but will face persistent challenges as pupil numbers continue to rise, an independent report has concluded.
The hubs were found to be addressing the aspiration to provide every child aged five to 18 with the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, reaching 39.7 per cent of pupils in Year 4 and 15.3 per cent of pupils in Years 1-6.
They were also found to be providing many pupils with opportunities to play and sing in ensembles, with a wide range of ensembles and groups provided in schools and at area level.
Areas highlighted for improvement included the potential for hubs to increase their engagement with special schools and other schools with higher than average proportions of pupils with special needs.
It was also noted that more could be done to encourage boys to take part in ensembles, and that the increasing size of the school population may pose future challenges.
The report said: ‘In conclusion, the hubs have clearly made a strong start in terms of their core roles, especially in relation to the amount and range of provision they offer, which has held steady or increased in their second year of operation.
‘However, they face continued challenges if they are to ensure effective progression and contribute to a high quality music education for an increasing number of pupils in future.’
The music education hubs were created in response to the 2011 National Plan for Music Education to provide access, opportunities and excellence in music education for all children and young people.
The hubs include schools – from primary to further education institutions – professional music organisations and arts organisations. They work in local areas to bring people together to create music education provision for children and young people.
Music teachers sceptical about online tuition, The Tutor Pages report shows
10 April 2015
Music teachers are more sceptical than most other tutors about the idea of online tuition, a report has revealed.
The Tutor Pages, an online directory of UK private tutors for academic, languages and music tuition, carried out a survey of 400 tutors about the pros and cons of online tuition.
Of all the groups surveyed, music teachers (comprising singing and instrumental teachers) were the most likely to think online tuition was not appropriate for their subject.
Among the tutors who identified themselves as teaching exclusively musical instruments or singing, 16 per cent said they used an element of online tuition in their teaching.
Of those who were not using online teaching, 27 per cent said they would like to try it.
However, 81 per cent of music teachers agreed that ‘Technology can never be a substitute for the physical presence of the tutor’.
The respondents cited several barriers to successful online tuition, including the visual and auditory limitations of the internet and the importance of being able to make physical adjustments to posture.
One respondent commented: ‘Music tuition is not just about imparting knowledge and technique. It is about building rapport, friendship and in many cases becoming a mentor and counsellor to the pupils.
‘This is especially true in singing teaching, where the voice is intrinsically linked to the emotions and state of mind of the pupil.’
Another said: ‘Results are certain to be possible but in instrumental teaching they won't compare with being in the same room as a fine teacher.’
Overall, around 80 per cent of respondents said they used Skype to tutor online. These tutors reported a number of advantages, such as flexibility in lesson scheduling and no travel costs.
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