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Latest News

New Guitar Pack from Orange Amps

5 September 2014

Orange Amplification has launched a new guitar pack that contains everything needed to start playing the guitar, in one box.

The pack includes an Orange Guitar, Orange Crush PiX 12L amplifier combo, Orange branded gig bag, headstock tuner, guitar lead, six plectrums and a strap. The new beginner guitar tuition course, Orange Music Education’s Rock Guitar, is also part of the pack – along with ten video tutorial lessons and backing tracks.

The Orange guitar from the pack is made from solid wood, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It features chrome hardware including Orange branded machine heads, a Tune-o-matic bridge, a three way pickup selector switch with two tone and volume controls. It is also fitted with medium / high output humbuckers giving a wide range of classic and modern tones. The guitar’s finish is available in three colours: black, white or the company’s signature bright orange.

The new pack will retail for £229 (including VAT), and will be available from the beginning of October 2014. More information can be found on the Orange Amps website.

Understanding Progress 8

3 September 2014

FFT is collaborating with The Association of School and College Leaders to hold a series of events helping schools to understand and prepare for the new accountability measures that will be coming into place from 2016.

Half day events will be held in London and Birmingham this November. Attendees will receive their own FFT data report that will help their schools and institutions understand the practicalities of Progress 8, and formulate an action plan.

‘Progress 8 is the most significant policy change affecting school leaders over the next few years,’ says ASCL deputy policy director Duncan Baldwin. ‘It is essential that they understand how this measure will impact upon their schools. ASCL is delighted to be working with FFT in delivering sessions which will provide accurate, relevant and timely information tailored to individual schools.’

Dr Mike Treadaway, director of innovation and research for FFT, will deliver the sessions alongside ASCL’s Duncan Baldwin. Topics covered will include information on why the government is changing the headline measure; how Progress 8 works and how it is calculated; operation of the floor standard and likely changes in the future. Attendees will also be able to find out whether opting in early will suit their particular institution, and if so how to go about it.

‘FFT were commissioned by the Department for Education to provide schools with information about their performance on the new accountability measures,’ says Mike Treadaway. ‘ Recently each state secondary school received a joint FFT and DfE report from Key to Success to support early planning to help schools consider their curriculum and teaching in light of the accountability reforms.  FFT are receiving many enquiries from school leaders who are looking for extra information on having a practical approach to Progress 8, so the events have been designed to help teachers formulate an achievable plan of action and to understand the changes so that they can start adapting immediately.’  

The half-day briefings will cost £129, plus VAT. To book a place, or to find out more information, visit the FFT website or email events@fft.org.uk.


NYMAZ funding to research digital music education

1 September 2014

Youth music development charity NYMAZ has been awarded funding to research new digital ways of providing music education to children living in isolated areas.

The research, backed by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, will be carried out by NYMAZ in partnership with the North Yorkshire Music Hub, the University of Hull (for research support) and UCan Play (for technology support). Video-streaming technology and online communication tools will be tested to see how successfully they can provide instrumental tuition, staff training, and access to music performances. Seven primary schools in North Yorkshire will take part in the trial.

Heidi Johnson, director of NYMAZ, said: ‘We are delighted to be one of only twelve innovative arts projects to receive funding from the Digital R&D Fund at this final funding round. Our aim is to find a new business model which will enable music hubs across the country to deliver cost-effective but high quality learning to children and young people in the most isolated areas. North Yorkshire makes the perfect test bed as transport times and costs here can limit opportunities to access music tuition and performances.’

Dr Andrew King, senior lecturer in Music and Technology at the University of Hull commented: ‘Children thrive on music and there's plenty of evidence to show how beneficial it can be in their development, so we jumped at the chance to be involved in this innovative project that aims to improve access to high quality music tuition and inspiring performances.’

Managing director of UCan Play Jonathan Savage said they planned to use Roland Systems Group's innovative VR3-EX mixer in the research, as it offers multiple camera angles which should help with making the experience as interactive as possible. It is hoped that the findings of this project will benefit teachers, hubs and children across the country.

Christmas Carol Competition amongst new BBC projects

29 August 2014

BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme announced yesterday the launch of a nationwide Christmas carol competition.

Open to entrants above the age of 16, this exciting project would be appropriate for GCSE and A-level students – or indeed their teachers!

The words for the carol have been specially commissioned from acclaimed author Susan Hill. From the entries, six carols will be shortlisted by a panel including the Master of the Queen’s Music and associate composer with the BBC Singers, Judith Weir, and chief conductor of the BBC Singers, David Hill.

The BBC Singers, who are celebrating their 90th birthday this year, will perform the shortlisted carols live on BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme on Thursday 16 December. Listeners to the programme will be asked to vote for their favourite work, and the winning carol will then be performed again live on 23 December and broadcast on Christmas day.

Running alongside the carol competition are a number of other choral projects:

One Day One Choir will take place in the week leading up to the UN’s International Day of Peace, Sunday 21 September. Groups are encouraged to come together and sing. From this year onwards, the project aims to bring more people on board each year so that by 2018 it is the largest choral event in the world, singing for peace.

The UK’s largest and most prestigious choir competition, Choir of the Year, will be covered by BBC Radio 3. Over the past year more than 150 amateur choirs of all ages, sizes and styles have competed for this accolade. Now the remaining sixteen finalists will fight for the Choir of the Year title. The category final and final will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, with a special Choir of the Year programme to be aired on BBC Four.

Leslie East to take reins at ABCD in new year

25 August 2014

The Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) held its 29th annual convention over the bank holiday weekend in the new buildings of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The weekend included presentations on repertoire, conducting skills and community choirs. Masterclasses were held for intermediate and advanced level conductors, with hands-on advice also available for less experienced conductors.

The Association of British Choral Directors's 29th convention has seen a raft of awards, presentations and big news announcements. 

Presenters and composers attended from home and abroad, including Paul Brough, Paul Deegan, Peter Hanke (Denmark), Jeff Howard, Sofi Jeannin (France), Karl Jenkins, Paul Mealor, Adrian Partington, Katie Thomas, Janice Thompson, Will Todd, and Sanna Valvanne (Finland/USA).

The convention featured the presentation of a new award: the ABCD’s inaugural Chair’s Award for excellence in choral leadership was presented to Gillian Dibden, in particular recognition of her work with youth choirs in Berkshire.

The big news was of musical chairs at the top. It was the last convention as chair for Jonathan Startup. This January he will be handing the role over to Leslie East, the outgoing CEO of ABRSM.


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