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26 June 2015

In this month’s percussion focus, we examine how setting up a world music programme in your school can transform whole-class teaching; profiling the options for drum kit exams; and how a marching band could be just the ensemble your school has been looking for. Plus, what not to miss at this summer’s Proms for you and your pupils; Claire Jackson decides whether tailor-made concerts for toddlers are pushy parenting or important opportunities for musical development; with laptops, electronic keyboard and gadgets so prevalent in the music classroom, tech correspondent Tim Hallas explores the merits of teaching a music lesson with no technology at all; best practice for protecting your students’ hearing; the London Symphony Orchestra’s education programme – LSO Discovery – celebrates its 25 anniversary; and MT reviews the latest piano, violin and choral releases, books, technology and new products to use in your teaching.


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Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music discuss merger

26 June 2015

Two of America’s leading music conservatoires are planning a merger.

The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, located next door to each other in the city of Boston, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore opportunities for closer collaboration.

The governing boards voted unanimously to approve the MOU, which calls for a broad-based, summer-long process of discussion and planning with important stakeholders.

A merger agreement could take effect from 2016.  

Within the newly merged organisation, the Boston Conservatory’s programmes in music, dance, and musical theatre would retain autonomy, while Berklee students would have access to a broader curriculum in dance and theatre.

Meanwhile, Boston Conservatory students would have access to Berklee’s tution in jazz and contemporary music, technology, music business, music therapy, sound design, production, film scoring and online education.

Boston Conservatory faculty would also have the opportunity to develop courses for Berklee Online, the largest non-profit online music school in the world.

Richard Ortner, president of the Boston Conservatory, said: ‘Increasingly, our conservatory students live in a global community.

‘They want access to the rich performance traditions of other cultures and other genres, as well as access to industry-standard digital infrastructure.

‘Berklee offers exactly that global outlook and that range of opportunity, right here in our shared four-block campus. Together, we form an unbeatable incubator for student and faculty creativity.’

Both schools have built new facilities and performance spaces in the past decade and both are reporting record enrollment for autumn 2015.

New York's Juilliard School launches duo of smartphone apps

25 June 2015

The Juilliard School in New York has released two smartphone apps offering users behind-the-scenes access to its staff and educational processes.

Juilliard Open Studios, a subscription-based app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that was released at the end of May, offers an insider’s view of classes, rehearsals and productions in development.

The app is free to download and was launched with seven episodes. Each user can access one episode for free, and the complete library of content can be accessed with a monthly subscription ($7.99 per month).

In its first year, episodes in the app will feature Juilliard faculty members and alumni such as Emanuel Ax, Terese Capucilli, Wynton Marsalis and Stephen Wadsworth.

A second app, the Juilliard String Quartet app, was launched this week and offers a comprehensive look at the quartet performing Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor, D 810, ‘Death and the Maiden’.

The app has features including the ability to highlight individual instruments, a scrolling score, in-depth commentary and multiple camera angles of the performance.

Both apps were developed by Juilliard Digital – part of the Juilliard School – and app developer Touch Press.

Joseph W Polisi, president of the Juilliard School, said: ‘Juilliard embraces technology and a global view that allow us to engage with a much larger world outside our historic base in New York.’

Speaking specifically about the Juilliard Open Studios app, he added: ‘This new app not only allows arts lovers to glimpse daily life at Juilliard – it also signals the school’s broader commitment to becoming a global source for arts education and appreciation.’

The school is planning to use the money raised from the apps to fund all aspects of its educational mission, including scholarships and outreach programmes.

Helena Kay wins Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition

25 June 2015, Katy Wright

Helena Kay

Helena Kay has won the 2015 Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition.

The 21-year-old saxophonist from Perth played Fats Waller's Jitterbug Waltz and Lennie Tristano's All of me in the final, which took place on 24 June at Glasgow's Rio Club. She narrowly missed out on the title in the 2014 competition, with drummer Jonathan Silk taking the prize.

Kay wins a £1000 cash prize, a year’s membership of the Musicians’ Union, a gig at London Jazz Festival 2016, and a gig at Glasgow International Jazz Festival 2016.

The competition launched in 2007. Previous winners include double bassist Andrew Robb (2009), saxophonist Ruaridh Pattison (2011) and percussionist Corrie Dick (2013).

Edinburgh Napier University launches Saturday morning music school

24 June 2015

Edinburgh Napier University is launching a Saturday morning music school for students aged 12 to 18.

Junior Napier Music will open in September at the university’s Merchiston campus in Colinton Road.

Refurbishments to the campus were completed in September 2013, including a new reception and student gallery, sound-proofed music studios and new teaching rooms.

The Saturday school, which is the first of its kind in east Scotland, will be led by university staff, professional musicians, graduates and current students.

Each student will receive lessons on their instrument, voice or composition, as well as learning about musicianship, ensemble playing and improvisation work.

The director of Junior Napier Music will be Kenneth Dempster, lecturer and composer in residence at Edinburgh Napier University.

Dempster said: ‘Whether our participants hope to pursue a musical career or not, Junior Napier Music will empower them by providing the practical and academic skills to allow them to choose their own musical pathway in due course.

‘We want to enable young performers and composers to make the most of their involvement in classical music and to develop skills that can last and shape a lifetime.’

Music lecturer Rachael Durkin, who will be assistant director of Junior Napier Music, said: ‘This is an exceptional opportunity for young musicians in Edinburgh.

‘We have had a great response so far, and places are filling up quickly. I would urge interested students and parents to contact us soon to find out more and to set up an audition.’

For information on applications to the school, click here.

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