Gareth Malone becomes Music for All ambassador
6 March 2015
Gareth Malone has been made an ambassador for Music for All, the charity that aims to give people from all backgrounds access to music and musical instruments.
The choral conductor and TV presenter, who is best known for hosting BBC programmes such as The Choir and The Big Performance, said: ‘I was very lucky to grow up in a house full of singing, which made me the musician I am today.
‘Without having a piano in our house, that I could play at any time, I wouldn’t be working in music now. The work that Music for All does is very important in helping the next generation of musicians realise their potential.’
Music for All visits schools to offer ‘taster’ sessions and offers grants for children whose parents cannot afford to buy them instruments. Its flagship event is the annual Learn to Play Day, which invites the general public to have free ‘taster’ lessons on a musical instrument at music stores and venues across the country.
The fourth Learn to Play Day is expected to provide more than 10,000 free lessons and takes place on 21-22 March.
Guildhall funds research into Noriko Ogawa autism concerts
5 March 2015
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama has commissioned a research project into how attending concerts can help the parents and carers of children with autism.
The research will be carried out by a team of academics at the school alongside Noriko Ogawa (pictured), the Japanese pianist behind the Jamie’s Concerts series for the carers of children with autism.
Ogawa launched Jamie’s Concerts 11 years ago, inspired by the son of a family she had been lodging with in the UK. They are intended to give parents and carers a formal opportunity to relax, unwind and share experiences.
Ogawa said: ‘I have always wanted some form of academic backup for what I am doing. It has always been emotionally driven, but I would like to find out if the concerts can be considered objectively good as well. And if anything could be done better or help us to achieve more, I would like to know.’
Jamie’s Concerts take place regularly in Japan, and in 2010 Ogawa also launched the series in the UK. This year, they will take place at venues including the Guildhall and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. She has been made a cultural ambassador for the National Autistic Society in recognition of her work, a role that will be formally launched in the spring.
Ogawa first approached John Sloboda, director of the Guildhall’s Understanding Audiences research programme, in autumn last year. The pair submitted an application to the school’s Research Centre and last week were awarded a grant of £2,460 to fund research from now until December.
Sloboda will carry out the research alongside psychologist, singer and teacher Karen Wise and music therapy specialist Alison Barrington. The team met for the first time on Wednesday and will begin the project by handing out questionnaires at Jamie’s Concerts before selecting volunteers for more in-depth research.
Ogawa said: ‘This is extremely important to me because it comes from my own personal experience. I lived with the family for two years and I understand what it’s like. It was very tough to cope with Jamie. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t, so I decided to help his mother. I’m not a doctor, a nurse or a teacher, but what I can do is give a concert.
‘I just want to know that the concerts are a good thing. I’m not expecting anything but if the research shows an overall positive effect, that would be great.’
Teaching rooms for hire at Sax.co.uk's central London shop
5 March 2015
Musical instrument retailer Sax.co.uk is hiring out practice and teaching rooms for £5 per hour at its new shop in central London.
The retailer moved into a 8,600 sq ft former furniture showroom on Hampstead Road in November from its previous site on Denmark Street in the West End. In January, Phil Parker Brass and All Flutes Plus moved into the new shop, completing the line-up.
The seven practice rooms are on the basement floor of the shop, which is within walking distance of Warren Street and Euston stations. They are available to hire by the hour at a rate of £5 per person for individual practice, pre-gig warming up, pre-exam preparations, teaching and meetings.
All the rooms are newly decorated and have floor-to-ceiling mirrors, wall clocks, tables and chairs. The hire fee is capped at £20 per hour per room.
Sax.co.uk’s new store is the biggest saxophone shop in London. Customers can choose from more than 300 new and second-hand saxophones, plus custom necks, mouthpieces, sheet music and accessories. There are also 11 soundproof demo rooms and a repair shop.
Brands on offer in the store include Selmer, P Mauriat, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, Yamaha, Akai EWI, Rampone & Cazzani, Trevor James and Jupiter.
The shop is also planning a series of in-store events and performances, which will be advertised on its website.
'Regulation needed' to stop abuse following Philip Pickett case
4 March 2015
An external regulatory body is needed to prevent further cases of sexual abuse in the UK’s conservatoires, according to a lecturer at one of London’s top universities.
Ian Pace, the pianist and head of performance at City University, said the case of Philip Pickett, who was jailed in February after being found guilty of raping two students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (pictured), was ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
However, he said a culture of silence was preventing people from coming forward. ‘At some conservatoires, I have heard of threatening behaviour from senior management preventing people from going to the police,’ he said.
In his blog, Desiring Progress, Pace has written a set of guidelines he believes conservatoires should follow to prevent further abuse. But he said external regulation was needed if music colleges were to get to the root of the problem.
‘In the classical music profession as a whole, patronage is held by so few people in a manner which is in no sense transparent or open to criticism,’ he said. ‘There is no way of holding people to account. We need an external body to regulate it. There are so many informal networks that it is eminently corruptible. I know this would not be popular, but think it necessary.’
Pickett, a recorder player and early music ensemble leader, was jailed for 11 years in February in relation to historic sex offences that occurred in the 70s and 80s during his time as a freelance teacher at the Guildhall.
The Old Bailey handed down a guilty verdict for two rapes and two indecent assaults on two schoolgirls and one student between 1979 and 1983, perpetrated in sound-proofed practice rooms. Judge Charles Wide called the behaviour a ‘gross abuse of trust’ and said the impact on the victims must have been ‘very great indeed’.
The Guildhall released the following statement: ‘Although these events took place several decades ago, this does not diminish our utter shock that a professional music teacher could abuse the trust placed in him by the School and its students.
‘The Guildhall school wholeheartedly welcomes the verdicts. Justice has been done and our thoughts are with the victims of these dreadful crimes.
‘The Guildhall school takes the duty of care of its students extremely seriously. Robust safeguarding procedures are in place at the school to ensure safe learning environments for all students and these measures are regularly reviewed.’
A full article by Ian Pace will be published in the April edition of Music Teacher
Petition launched to save Wiltshire Music Service
2 March 2015
The petition, which was launched on Sunday evening after the council said it planned to close Wiltshire Music Service as part of a plan to save £30m, attracted 200 signatures in its first two hours.
It says: ‘Without the music service, children across Wiltshire, as well as their families, may miss out on the joy of music and the inspiring music sharing opportunities it offers.
‘Withdrawal of the music service would seriously discriminate against low and middle-income families and those living in rural communities. Music should not just be for the wealthy – we’d miss out on so much undiscovered talent.
‘According to articles in the press, the council has said the withdrawal of funding will not have any impact upon the provision of music lessons in schools. However, when they are washing their hands of all control, they absolutely cannot know that this will be the case – teachers may be forced to leave the area to find more stable employment.’
In February, several local councils announced cuts to their spending on music provision. Bromley Council has proposed cutting its annual grant to Bromley Youth Music Trust from an existing £305,650 to £76,000 in 2015/16, and to zero from 2016/17. More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition against the cuts.
Elsewhere, Redbridge Council has dropped plans to cut its contribution to Redbridge Music Service by £166,650 following a local campaign.
Wiltshire council cabinet member Laura Mayes told the local Gazette & Herald newspaper: ‘I can definitely say that music lessons for children will not change. The only thing that is changing is the exact way the service is delivered.
‘At the moment the council acts as a bridge between the music teachers and the schools but from the start of the autumn term schools will liaise directly with Wiltshire Education Music Hub which is mainly funded by the Arts Council.’
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