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Youth Music to Live-Stream 'Fresh Thinking' Education Seminar

22 July 2013

New Youth Music Ambassador Bill Bailey
New Youth Music Ambassador Bill Bailey

The National Foundation for Youth Music will be live-streaming a breakfast seminar this Wednesday 24 July at 8.45am, looking at the new ways young people engage with music and the implications this has for music education.

Perspectives will by provided by three key speakers: music journalist and radio presenter Pete Paphides, music strategist Chris Price, and Radio 1 presenter Jen Long. They will discuss latest developments in the music industry, and how this has affected young people as music-makers, listeners and consumers. This will lead to a conversation on the wider implications for music education, led by Youth Music's Executive Director Matt Griffiths.

The seminar will be chaired by Andy Parfitt, Youth Music Chair of Trustees and former Controller of BBC Radio 1. Viewers can watch the seminar live online from Youth Music's YouTube channel, and live listeners are invited to tweet in questions for the panel using the hashtag #ymseminar.

This seminar is part of Youth Music's new agenda following its rebranding last week. Youth Music is aiming to provide fresh thinking on music education issues, drawn from its extensive experience working with hundreds of thousands of young people over the years.

In line with this aim, Youth Music announced today that stand-up comedian Bill Bailey is to join the ranks of its Ambassadors. Alongside fellow Ambassadors Myleene Klass, Goldie and Sir James Galway (amongst others), Bailey will help the national charity to provide life-changing musical opportunities for young people. 

Youth Music's concern about the low level of participation in school music qualifications is something that Bill Bailey strongly identifies with. He said: 'Sadly, I was the only kid in my year to take an A level in music and it’s unfortunate that interest in music as a school subject is so low. I know this is something Youth Music cares about and I’m glad. I think it’s important that children feel encouraged to take music as a subject at school, it’s very rewarding.'

Academies on the Rise

19 July 2013

Latest analysis of the figures by GMB, the union for school support staff, shows that 115 state schools applied to become Academies over the last month. This brings the total number of Academy applications up to 42.9% of all state secondary schools, and 9.5% of state primaries. 

The government's plan to turn all state schools into Academies has always been viewed with controversy. Despite heavy criticism from teachers, teachers unions, parents and politicians, the government's current plan is to convert all state schools in England to Academy status. On 1 July 2012 there were a total of 1957 Academies in England; a year on the figure now stands at 3,049 - which indicates the government is well on its way to achieving its goal.

Avril Chambers, GMB National Officer, said: 'GMB is closely monitoring the steady stream of Academy conversions as we are always concerned for our members when schools leave the local education authority system. GMB experience is that support staff are frequently the first group of school staff to have their jobs and terms and conditions threatened when schools become Academies or when those in charge change. Anyone that works or has children at any of the schools that applied to become Academies last month should insist on full consultation from the Head and Governors. Heads and Governors should listen to the concerns of staff, parents and the community and respond accordingly.'

Bold Plans for Bristol Music Service

17 July 2013

While many music hubs across the country depend on government money for their existence, Bristol City Council has plans of its own to secure the long-term future of children's music education.

Proposals were announced today to move the council music service to join Bristol Music Trust, an independent charity that promotes music making across the Bristol. The Trust currently manages Colston Hall, the city's vibrant centre for music and the arts, as well as working in partnership with several of Bristol's cultural organisations.

It is hoped that the move will help the music service to secure Arts Council funding after April 2015, which is when the current allocation finishes. 

Bristol's music service currently provides regular activities for around 10,500 students each week - including free specialist music lessons, weekly tuition, and ensembles both in and out of schools. Its team of 90-strong peripatetic teachers cover a wide range of instruments, from tabla and steel pans to flute and violin.

Assistant Mayor for Children and Young People, councillor Brenda Massey, said: 'We have a rich hub of talent that will become more joined up and secure by operating through Bristol Music Trust, which has already been praised by the Arts Council for partnership working. Moving the service will help it to secure funding in the future and develop its reputation as a regional centre of excellence for music.'

ISM Campaign Gains Momentum

15 July 2013

Last month the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) called on the government to commit itself to funding music education hubs into the future. The National Plan for Music Education in England promises to support the network of 123 hubs until 2015, but there are no further financial commitments in place.

Since the ISM launched its Protect Music Education campaign (as reported in the July issue of Music Teacher), it has gained close to 1,000 signatories. In addition to backing from Tasmin Little OBE and Julian Lloyd Webber, the campaign has also gained the support of 12 high-profile music organisations - including the Schools Music Association, Musicians Benevolent Fund and Music Education Council. 

To support the ISM's campaign, which is hoping to secure commitment from all major political parties, click here.

Pamela Cook Passes Away

12 July 2013

The choral and musical world was saddened to learn of the death of Pamela Cook in the early hours of this morning, after suffering a stroke last week.

Pamela was held in high regard as an international authority on vocal and choral techniques. Her successful teaching career included positions in universities and music conservatoires across the country, with many of her students currently holding soloist positions in prestigious British and European opera houses.

In 1968, Pamela founded girls’ choir Cantamus. Initially a by-product of her work as head of vocal studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, within three years Cantamus won its first major international prize. Today the choir is made up of 43 teenage girls and is known as one of the most dynamic young choirs in the country. Pamela remained director of the choir until her death.

Pamela’s inspiration was drawn from her pure love of the human voice. ‘It’s a constant source of joy and amazement to me that the human voice can be beautiful, warm, tender, dramatic, exciting, sensual and vibrant – and this possibility is available to everyone who sings,’ she said. ‘What a power-house the conductor has at her finger-tips!’

In 1984, Pamela was appointed MBE. Her work as a teacher and adjudicator took her all over the world, where she has sat on panels of international vocal competitions, delivered lectures in vocal physiology, and coached choirs. Her passion, energy and complete dedication will no doubt be missed – but her legacy lives on in the thousands of singers she inspired during her lifetime.

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