ISM relaunches EBacc campaign following speech from schools minister
21 July 2015
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has renewed its campaign to reform the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) following fresh proposals by schools minister Nick Gibb to make the system compulsory in all secondary schools.
The Bacc for the Future campaign was originally launched in 2013, when then Education Secretary Michael Gove announced plans to plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of an English Baccalaureate.
The proposed EBacc was to focus on the five core academic areas of English, maths, the sciences, languages and a humanities subject (history or geography).
Campaigners said the system would discourage schools from offering tuition in non-core subjects, such as music and the arts.
The EBacc for the Future campaign was supported by organisations including Shakespeare’s Globe, National Society for Education in Art and Design, National Union of Teachers and English Touring Theatre.
In February 2013, it was announced that the government had decided to scrap its plans for the EBacc and instead focus on reforming GCSEs.
However, on 11 June this year, schools minister Nick Gibb announced new proposals to make the EBacc compulsory for all secondary school pupils during a speech at the Policy Exchange think tank.
The ISM is calling for people to sign a petition calling for creative subjects to be included in school accountability measures.
A statement from the ISM said: ‘Despite our previous campaign success together, we need to work together once more to tackle new and concerning proposals to make the EBacc compulsory for all secondary school pupils.
‘The new EBacc proposals would require every pupil to study English, maths, a science, a humanities subject (defined as only history or geography) and a language (ancient and modern) and would rank schools on performance in only these subjects, excluding the arts altogether.
‘Numerous studies have demonstrated both the lack of evidence for the choice of subjects in the EBacc and the harmful impact it has had on cultural and creative subjects in schools.’
Earlier this week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan defended the government’s attitude to the arts in schools in a speech to the Creative Industries Federation.
Morgan said: ‘I firmly reject any suggestion that I or this government think that arts subjects are in any way less important or less worthy than other subjects for study in school.
‘On the contrary, a young person’s education cannot be complete unless it includes the arts.’
Holly Mathieson appointed conductor of NYOS Junior Orchestra
20 July 2015
Holly Mathieson has been appointed as conductor of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS) Junior Orchestra for 2015-2018.
Mathieson, who was born in New Zealand, has been working with NYOS Junior Orchestra since March this year.
She is artistic director of the Horizont Musik-Kollektiv, based in Berlin, and also co-directs London’s Reuleaux Ensemble.
She is a Leverhulme Fellow at BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, working alongside Donald Runnicles.
Mathieson said: ‘I’m delighted to be cementing my relationship with NYOS in this way: the players are such great spirits, and give their all in rehearsal – we work like professionals and anything is possible with them.
‘Our two concerts this season have left me with a clear view of what is possible, and what will be of most benefit to the players' development as young artists.’
The NYOS Junior Orchestra is for musicians aged eight and over, and is the first step for aspiring members of the NYOS Senior Orchestra and NYOS Symphony Orchestra.
New Note Orchestra prepares for launch in Brighton
15 July 2015
A music project for people recovering from addiction is holding an open day this weekend to explore ways of expanding its work.
The New Note Orchestra began life in 2014 as a TV show for Channel 4, Addicts Symphony, in which ten recovering addicts worked for two months with musician and recovering alcoholic James McConnel towards a concert with the London Symphony Orchestra.
The aim was to increase participants’ self-esteem and confidence, while teaching them new skills.
Producer Molly Mathieson has since received funding from the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs Programme to continue the project.
Mathieson will host a workshop in Brighton on 18 July to gauge local need for the service and explore ways of collaborating with other music educators.
Depending on the outcome of the workshop, she is hoping to start a regular New Note Orchestra project in Brighton from September, with a view to potentially expanding to other areas of the UK at a later stage.
Musicians already involved with the project include conductor Patrick Harrex and violinist Marco Martinez.
‘The workshop is a way for us to understand whether there is a local need and how to design the orchestra going forward,’ Mathieson said.
‘The overall plan is to roll out the orchestra across the country. At this point we are looking for people to support us.’
Mathieson said she was keen to discuss options such as workshops for people who are unable to read music.
‘We might also look at providing music lessons in the future,’ she said. ‘We are going to start as an orchestra and see how it grows.’
Donaldson report ‘a positive step’ for music education in Wales
14 July 2015
Graham Donaldson’s recent review of education in Wales could help put music and the arts back at the centre of the curriculum, according to one leading music education practitioner.
Successful Futures, commissioned by the Welsh Government to consider new assessment and curriculum arrangements, was published in February this year and approved by the education minister this month.
The report recommended a more skills-based approach to learning, as opposed to segregated lessons in specific subject areas.
Rachel Kilby, who was head of the music service in Rhondda Cynon Taf until dramatic cuts were confirmed earlier this year and is now a freelance music educationalist, told Music Teacher: ‘It is a positive step that the recommendations have been accepted.
‘The report talks about teaching on a theme or project basis, with teachers working across boundaries and the focus on skills rather than subjects. This could mean the music services have a more defined role and better links with schools.’
Kilby also managed the music service in Caerphilly in the two years to January 2014 and was the representative for Wales on the Music Education Council until her role at Rhondda came to an end.
Although she welcomed the recommendations in the report, Kilby also stressed that adequate resources would need to be allocated to make them work in practice.
‘There will be some radical change involved when it comes to teacher development,’ she said. ‘Teachers will have to teach across many areas, rather than specific subjects.
‘But it could be quite exciting as long as the appropriate training and long-term investment are put in place.’
Royal College of Music research shows live music is good for you
10 July 2015
A study by the Royal College of Music has produced new evidence of the positive psychological effects of attending live music performances.
The research by the college’s Centre for Performance Science showed that audience members in a live choral concert experienced decreases in levels of stress hormones cortisol and cortisone.
A group of volunteers – 15 singers and 49 audience members – were monitored during a concert of music by Eric Whitacre at Union Chapel in March 2015. They submitted saliva samples, wore ECG monitors and completed a questionnaire.
The experiment was then repeated during a concert at the Cheltenham Festival on 7 July.
The results of both studies will be discussed during a talk at the Cheltenham Festival this weekend called ‘Is Singing Good for You’.
Aaron Williamon, professor of performance science at Royal College of Music, said: ‘This is the first time participation in a cultural event has been shown to have significant psychobiological effects, and the implications are hugely exciting, particularly when taking into account previous research by the Centre for Performance Science which links reduction in stress hormone activity with increases in immune function.
‘This preliminary study provides several new avenues of further investigation of how making and experiencing music can impact on health and wellbeing.’
The Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science was founded in 2000 and focuses on applied research aimed primarily at benefiting music performance students.
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