Tees Valley Music Service At Risk
13 December 2013
A £700,000 cut in funding from the Arts Council for Tees Valley Music Service has put 13 jobs at risk.
Stockton Borough Council, which manages the music service, is currently running a staff consultation period between now and 20 January. According to the council the funding cuts will lead to 'a revision to staffing structures, incremental changes to fees and charges, and a new model of service delivery'. Teaching staff will be asked to consider taking voluntary redundancies.
Tees Valley Music Service has provided music-making opportunities for around 25,000 young people across Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, and Redcar & Cleveland. In May 2013 the Arts Council had promised the music service an investment of £3m over the next three years, which was to go towards ensuring more pupils had access to learning an instrument. The latest announcements mean that Tees Valley will face a hard struggle to maintain current levels of music services, with MP Alex Cunningham describing the cuts as 'bad news for music, musicians and teachers'.
Surprise! It's an Ofsted visit...
11 December 2013
The chief inspector of Ofsted’s annual report, published today, concludes that schools and colleges across the country are generally performing better than at this time last year. Nevertheless, ‘serious challenges’ in certain areas mean that inspectors will start making ‘no-notice’ visits to schools in England suffering from poor behavioural standards.
In the report, HMI Sir Michael Wilshaw notes three main areas to be addressed over the coming year: ‘mediocre’ teaching and leadership; regional variation in the quality of education; and the underachievement of children from low-income families. Sir Michael also announced that disruption and inattention in the classroom had been tolerated for too long, and inspectors would be making surprise visits to certain schools from January 2014.
Sir Michael called on the National College for Teaching and Leadership to provide incentives for high quality staff to spread out over the country. He also recommended that the government considers a return to the formal external testing of children at the end of KS1.
The annual report is available to view at www.ofsted.gov.uk/annualreport1213
Brass Bands in Kent
10 December 2013
Three new brass bands have been created for young people in Shepway, including one for complete beginners. Supported by Kent music education’s Soundhub, the new Shepway Brass Academy meets twice a week at Folkestone Academy Secondary, with each session costing just £1 per child.
The initiative is run by Swedish music expert Christer Aberg, who has 40 years’ experience teaching brass instruments to children and young people as well as degrees in conducting and brass band performance from Chichester and Sheffield universities.
Tuition is provided at three levels, with around thirty children in each group. The Beginner’s Band is run for children with no previous experience of a brass instrument; those with approximately one year’s tuition can join the Training Band, and the (already existing) Junior Band will cater for more experienced players.
‘As well as learning and having fun, the bands will be very much orientated towards performance,’ says Soundhub projects manager Mark Mortimer. ‘Christer has been putting together a schedule of events in which the children can showcase some of the music they have practised.’
York Baroque Strings Project: the highlights
9 December 2013
Young string players from York Arts Academy are preparing for a concert on 14 December where they will play alongside members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) in the York Early Music Christmas Festival. This concert is the culmination of several workshops for young string players who have reached at least grade five standard, as part of the York Baroque Strings Project.
Funded by Youth Music, the project is a year-long collaboration between the OAE, National Centre for Early Music and the York Arts Academy. So far participants have benefited from a workshop for teachers, as well as two weekend workshops for young string players run by members of the OAE which focused on how to play baroque music in an exciting and stylistic way.
‘The project has been extraordinarily successful to date, and the group are visibly growing in confidence as well as musical expression,’ says Delma Tomlin, director of the NCEM. ‘The project has opened up a new sound world for these young musicians, which is all very exciting and exactly what we believe education is meant to be about!’
The final part of the project takes place on 29 March 2014. Violinist Rachel Podger will hold a masterclass for the young musicians who performed in the Christmas concert. They will receive specialist coaching on a baroque piece of their choice, before coming together as an orchestra to accompany a concerto performed by Rachel.
Online resources for string teachers will be made available as part of the project. Audio and video clips from members of the OAE will be compiled by the NCEM, covering techniques and aspects of performance style that are relevant to baroque music. These resources will be up on the NCEM website from May 2014.
One person, one day, six grade eight exams...
6 December 2013
Yesterday Russell Lock, a 23-year old peripatetic teacher from Sandwell in the West Midlands, took on the marathon task of sitting grade eight exams on six different instruments in one day, raising funds for Cancer Research UK in the process.
Mr Lock's repertoire for the day comprised 18 pieces, spread between the trumpet, tenor horn, euphonium, bass trombone, trombone and tuba. His fundraising was given a boost by Trinity College London who waived the exam fees, John Packer Music Instruments who loaned the instruments for the day, and Denis Wick who supplied all necessary mouthpieces and accessories.
Russell said: 'I'm happy with how the charity event has gone thus far and I am already considering the next challenge being a Grade 8 on each family of instruments in a day.’
Donations to Cancer Research UK can be made by visiting Russell Lock's JustGiving page. 100% of funds raised will go to charity.
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