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11 December 2014

The new posts will complement the RSCM’s existing services and training for singers, choir directors and church organists. The educational charity is also re-organising the management of its volunteers in England.

In partnership with Praxis, the liturgical resources group, the new Head of Ministerial Training will devise and lead new training programmes for ministers. “Those who train ordinands and lay worship leaders have, in recent years, found it increasingly difficult to shoe- horn the study of liturgy and music into their packed timetables,” says Rosemary Field, the RSCM’s Head of Education. “It leaves a potential gap in the knowledge, understanding and skills of many curates, lay readers and lay assistants. This is a gap which the RSCM is attempting to close.” Already the RSCM has started to address the need with a new course called “Strengthen for Service” which has been well-received by those who have participated in it.

The needs of churches with congregational and instrumental traditions are also being addressed with a part-time Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music. The successful candidate will devise and deliver training programmes and courses, including provision for churches will little or no musical resources. This includes the RSCM’s current new course for such churches – “Lift up your voice”. These two appointments are the first of a series of specialist appointments which will also include the disciplines of organ and choral training.

Two part-time Regional Co-ordinators are also being sought in England, following on from a four-year period of mixed-portfolio work by a team of Regional Music Advisers. These posts, which are similar to the provision in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, will provide management and support for the hundreds of volunteers throughout England who devise and run a wide range of events, workshops and training for RSCM awards.

“Back in 1927, our founder Sir Sydney Nicholson identified two principal needs for flourishing church music; not only strong music leaders but also clergy and ministers who understood the value of music in worship, and how to enable it in others,” said Rosemary Field. “We already provide a range of support for musicians; we’re now seeking to redress the balance as far as congregations and ministers are concerned.” More information about the vacancies including job descriptions and how to apply may be found on the RSCM’s website at 

Government 'lets children down' in music 

10 December 2014

Leading figures in the music industry say the Government has broken its promise to give every child in Britain the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.  

Julian Lloyd Webber, Sting, Alison Balsom and the heads of the Royal College of Music and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are among the signatories to a letter to the  Telegraph demanding that all children have the chance of learning to play an instrument. They want Ofsted rules to be changed so that a school cannot be rated 'good' or 'outstanding' unless it offers good or outstanding music provision.   

The Government unveiled its National Plan for Music in 2011, claiming it would ‘enable every child to have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument for at least a term, ideally a year’.  

However, the funding model has become a postcode lottery, and access to instruments is ‘simply out of reach’ for a great number of children, according to James Rhodes, concert pianist and lead signatory to the letter published in the Telegraph on 23rd November.  

Mr. Rhodes visited schools for a recent Channel 4 series, Don't Stop The Music, and found children using dustbin lids and yoghurt pots in place of real instruments. He said headteachers feel under pressure to meet targets for English and maths, and music lessons often become the lowest priority  

‘I don't think anyone would say music doesn't deserve to be studied. But if you are a headteacher in a school where you know you will live or die by ticking Ofsted boxes on literacy and numeracy, that is all you're going to focus on’.  

‘We have not moved on from the idea that music is a privilege and a luxury if you have the time and the budget. But learning to play an instrument gives you self-esteem, discipline, confidence. In what other field ... when there's an app for everything, and everything is instant, do you have  the chance for slow, incremental, messy improvement?’.  

Julian Lloyd Webber initially lent his name to the National Plan for Music but said it had failed to deliver.  ‘The biggest frustration of all to me is the idea that it's an 'either/or' situation. It's not a case of, 'If my child learns to play the cello they are not going to learn their maths as well'. In fact, it's the reverse. Having access to music is a help, not a hindrance. It takes discipline to learn an instrument - it is a complex thing to do.’  T

he Department of Education declined to supply any information on how many schools have met its 2011 target. 

Music hub and Arts Council host minister’s visit

9 December 2014

Arts Council and the North East London music education hub recently hosted a visit from Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education (DfE). The visit took place at Redbridge Primary School where he, and colleagues from the  (DfE) observed a Year 4 Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) beginner recorder class and a Year 6 WCET flute continuation class. 

After touring the school and talking to teaching staff and pupils, the minister was accompanied to the John Savage Centre in Hainault where he met staff and instrument repair technicians from the Instrument Centre, and observed a kindergarten class with toddlers, parents and carers. Mr Gibb was receptive and enthusiastic throughout, and seemed particularly impressed with the quality of music education on offer, and the schools’ commitment to the arts. He was also impressed with approaches to raising attainment in reading and maths, with the expertise within the hub itself, and with the hub’s valuable supportive role across two outer London boroughs. 

National Learn to Play Day 2015

8 December 2014

The event will be UK-wide and will once again offer the general public the chance to have a free “taster” lesson on a musical instrument. In 2014, 117 venues put on events ranging from Music Shops to Music Services and even Churches! People who have never played and people who used to play all came on the day to try an instrument to gain expert advice on next steps on playing an instrument. Over 10,000 free lessons were given in 2014 with over a third of people going on to continue their musical journey.  

For 2015, the charity wants to fully involve any Music Hub, Music Service or community music project that is interested in running a stand-alone event or partner with an existing one. Music for All Patron, Jools Holland commented ‘I am delighted to lend my support to the National Learn to Play Day and help MFA in their quest to inspire more people to participate in music making.’  

If would like more information about the event, go to where you can see a short video that includes Portsmouth Music Service or contact 

 Swinging Hubs 

5 December 2014

On 22 November Bournemouth & Poole (SoundStorm), Bromley, East Renfrewshire, Manchester (One Education Music), Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Southampton were the centre of attention at a celebration of their commitment to jazz education at an EFG London Jazz Festival concert in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. After the presentation of Diplomas under the Jazz Services’ Will Michael Jazz Education Awards scheme, supported by the Worshipful Company of Musicians and Serious, the celebrations were brought to a head by the Royal Academ of Music Big Band playing the music of and featuring Nikki Iles. 

The Awards are a means of according national recognition to those Hubs, Music Services and Education Authorities which demonstrate an outstanding commitment to jazz education. 

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