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Youth Music Invests in Education

25 April 2014

The National Foundation for Youth Music announced this week that it will be awarding grants totalling £1.2m to ten pioneering music education projects.

The funding will be invested in developing partnerships between schools and music education providers who do not usually work in a school environment. This ‘Exchanging Notes’ initiative will be monitored over a four-year period by a team from Birmingham City University that will evaluate the musical and educational outcomes of these new partnerships.

Projects benefitting from this funding include Opera North working with Winifred Holtby Academy in Hull, Kinetika Bloco working with St Gabriel’s College in London, and Derbyshire Music Education Hub working across the county’s Virtual Schools Network. The young people involved are those believed to be at risk of low attainment, disengagement or educational exclusion. Through this initiative it is hoped that participants will be empowered to develop their own creative life skills, using formal and informal music-making to improve their general learning.

Youth Music’s executive Matt Griffiths says: ‘In designing the Exchanging Notes programme, we encouraged schools, music organisations and local music education hubs to work together. We look forward to the outcome of this action research project with great excitement as it is the first time such a rigorous study of combined approaches between schools and music providers, who normally work in out-of-school settings, has been done. The results may well turn out to be of enormous significance to stimulate fresh thinking in music education and support the aspirations set out in the National Plan for Music Education.’

120th BBC Proms Unveiled

24 April 2014

Details of the 2014 BBC Proms were released this afternoon, promising two months, 92 concerts, 12 world premieres and 10 newly-featured international ensembles amongst this year’s exciting line-up of events.


To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One the Proms will be reflecting on the music, musicians and musical legacy of the Great War. Collaborating with the National Theatre for the first time, the War Horse Prom (3 August) features life-size puppets from the west end production, as well as the modern day premiere of Sir Henry Wood’s recently-discovered New War Hymn and a performance by Gareth Malone’s Proms Military Wives Choir. The War Horse Prom will also be forming the basis of this year’s Proms Plus Family Orchestra and Chorus, where families can play music alongside professional musicians.


The BBC Proms has expanded its educational Proms Plus series for this summer, with more free workshops, talks and events at the Royal College of Music that serve to complement the main BBC Proms concerts. Proms Plus Intros, which give the audience an opportunity to learn more about the evening’s repertoire, will be focusing on global classical music. These sessions include a spotlight on Turkey (29 July), the Czech Republic (24 August), Hungary (25 August), South Korea (27 August) and Singapore (2 September).

For the first time, both Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passions will be performed at the Proms. Singers of all levels of experience (including none!) will be able to join members of the BBC Singers in workshops before hearing these works performed at the Proms.

The 80th birthdays of two of Britain’s most important living composers, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, will be celebrated alongside significant birthdays of some of the country’s leading conductors. The Proms Plus Composer Portrait will allow audiences to get to know more about some of the living composers whose works are being performed, through in-depth interviews with Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, David Horne and Sally Beamish.

For full details of this year’s BBC Proms season, click here.

Tickets go on sale from 9am on Saturday 17 May 2014 via bbc.co.uk/proms or 0844 209 7353, and in person at the Royal Albert Hall.

Distinguished Musician Award for Julian Lloyd Webber

24 April 2014

This year’s prestigious Distinguished Musician Award was presented last week to British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, in recognition of his great dedication to the world of music education.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) presented the award in partnership with Classic FM. Both partners were impressed by Julian Lloyd Webber’s passion for bringing music to young people from all backgrounds, as well his successful campaigning to promote music as a respected area of study. As chairman of Sistema England, Julian has helped to inspire thousands of primary schoolchildren across the country, and his work as a key supporter of the ISM ‘Bacc for the Future’ campaign played an important role in affecting a change in government policy over the place of music in the English Baccalaureate proposals.

The Distinguished Musician Award has been recognising outstanding contributions to musical life in the UK since 1976. However, this is only the third time that the award has highlighted achievements in the field of music education.

Chief executive of the ISM Deborah Annetts commented: 'I’m delighted that Julian’s work in music education is recognised through this award. He is passionate in his belief that every child, regardless of background, deserves the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and tirelessly devotes himself to campaigning issues alongside his busy performing and recording career.'

Guildhall to award its own degrees

23 April 2014

The Privy Council of the United Kingdom has granted Taught Degree-Awarding Powers to The Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

The Guildhall School’s bachelors and master’s degrees were initially validated by Kent University, with City University London becoming sole validator in 2002. In addition to granting Guildhall the right to award its own degrees, the Privy Council’s decision means that the School is now also free to launch a new range of academic programmes, which is one of the aims for the School’s new state of the art facilities at Milton Court.

Professor Barry Ife, principal of the Guildhall School, said: ‘There is an increasing expectation among students, stakeholders, peer institutions and other agencies in this country and abroad that highly-respected institutions should have gained academic autonomy. I am absolutely delighted that after several years of hard work on quality assurance, the School has been officially recognised by the Privy Council in this way.’

It is expected that the School will award its first degrees at its graduation ceremony in the autumn of 2015.

Key Data on Hubs Published

22 April 2014

The results are in from the major survey of music education hubs initiated last October. It was undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), at the request of Arts Council England (ACE).

The report focuses on the six ‘Key Performance Indicators’ agreed between ACE and the DfE in January this year. Here are some of the highlights:

  • '14,368 state-funded primary schools engaged with their music hub on one or more core roles. This equated to 83.2 per cent of primary schools reported by hubs (17,289).'
  • 'A total of 3,073 state-funded secondary schools engaged with their music hub on one or more roles. This equated to 76 per cent of secondary schools reported by hubs (4,048).'
  • 'The proportion of pupils nationally receiving ‘Whole Class Ensemble Tuition’ (WCET) for the first time represents approximately 8.6 per cent of the national cohort of pupils in Years 1 to 9.'
  • 'A total of 175,374 pupils (35.6 per cent of those receiving free first access/WCET in the previous year) were reported to have continued to learn to play a musical instrument in 2012/13.'
  • 'A total of 618,952 pupils regularly attended at least one school- or hub-led instrumental ensemble or choir. This represents approximately 7.6 per cent of the 8.2 million pupils attending state funded schools nationally in January 2013.'
  • 'Overall, hubs had supported 9,014 (62.4 per cent) of the primary schools and 1,576 (51.0 per cent) of the secondary schools they engaged with to develop singing strategies.'

NFER added: ‘It is not possible to provide a breakdown of the number of pupils continuing their musical education beyond WCET by school phase (primary or secondary) or pupils’ characteristics. We suggest that Arts Council England may wish to consider amending the questionnaire to enable this data to be collected in future.’ 

MT will report more fully on the data in our June issue. The report can be downloaded from ACE’s ‘Music Education Hubs’ webpage (PDF link here).

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