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Tuesday, 29th July, 2014

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Ten days left to 'Protect Music Education'

9 June 2014

Individuals and organisations in the music sector are being called on to support the campaign led by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) as the deadline approaches to respond to the government’s consultation. Support can be shown by completing a response to the consultation, and/or by signing the online petition for the ISM campaign.

As previously reported, the Department for Education is running a consultation on how best to make savings to the Education Services Grant (ESG). While in the past funds have been allocated to local authorities for music provision, the government has stated its expectations that ‘music services should now be funded through music education hubs and from school budgets’.

The DfE’s consultation document states:

‘Before we make any final decisions on the level of savings to the ESG, we want to gather views from the sector about how the grant is currently being used, how much money could be saved and the impact of making those savings. We are also interested in whether there is any further clarification or guidance we could provide in order to help local authorities and academies deliver these savings, as well as whether there are any functions that local authorities or academies should stop doing completely.’

The deadline to responding to the government’s consultation is Thursday 19 June 2014. The DfE has stated that it will review all opinions from the music sector before making any final decisions about ESG savings, so it is vital that all those able to help have submitted a response form to the DfE by 19 June. The ISM has put together a consultation response pack which provides helpful facts and survey data for those completing a response form.

The ISM is also organising a petition for individuals to sign up and show support for the campaign, which can be found on their ‘Protect Music Education’ website.

To date, the ISM has gained backing from 85 organisations in the music sector, as well as support from a number of high-profile individuals.

Last month an ISM/YouGov poll showed that 85% of British adults back Michael Gove’s statement, taken from the foreword of the National Plan for Music, that ‘Music education must not become the preserve of those children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition.’ Through the ‘Protect Music Education’ campaign it is hoped that the public can make it clear to the government how much we value and rely on funding for music provision from our local authorities.

Sing for Pleasure Awards Five Conducting Scholarships

6 June 2014

Leading choral charity Sing for Pleasure has awarded five young musicians a year-long scholarship on its second annual Young Conductors programme.

Mark Bassett, Charlie Gower-Smith, Hannah Davidson, Craig Lees and James McEvoy-Stephenson were selected as the best aspiring choral talents between the ages of 21-25. The scholars will benefit from individual mentoring, three training weekends, a summer school and a choir placement over the course of next year.

The Young Conductors scholarships were launched in 2013 and funded by donations from grant giving trusts and foundations. Five scholars completed the course in May 2014. Sing for Pleasure's head of conductor training, Manvinder Rattan, commented: ‘Sing for Pleasure is passionate about fostering talent and providing a positive and enriching environment for students to develop their skills. This year's students are extremely gifted and I look forward to supporting this stage in their career.’

Mark Bassett is a music student at the University of Reading and an aspiring specialist music primary teacher. Leeds based Charlie Gower-Smith is a recent graduate from Leeds University and is involved with a number of local chamber choirs and orchestras. Hannah Davidson currently undertaking a placement at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle, is involved with the Newcastle Bach Choir and is a music student at Newcastle University, whilst former Leeds College of Music student, Craig Lees is a specialist music teacher. James McEvoy-Stephenson is a choral scholar at Oxford University and formed the Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir.

Nucleo Project joins with Sistema England

3 June 2014

The Nucleo Project, an independent programme offering free tuition and instruments to 100 children in West London, has become a member of Sistema England. Like its Venezuelan model El Sistema, the Nucleo Project aims to transform the lives of children through music.

The Nucleo Project, led by Lucy Maguire, provides musical activities for children between the ages of 2-15. The youngest participants attend sessions twice weekly, with older children coming four times each week. Children can play in a symphony orchestra, sing in a family choir, take part in a string ensemble and have musicianship lessons. Those demonstrating particular talent are offered individual instrumental tuition, and everything (including instruments) is provided free of charge.

Julian Lloyd Webber, founder of Sistema England, commented: ‘We are very happy to recognise The Nucleo Project as a programme that is based on the values and principles of El Sistema. In its first year of operations it has clearly had a positive impact on the children and the communities that it engages with. We hope that, with the support of Sistema England, this inspiring initiative will continue to grow.’

Virtuosos' Grade 1 Challenge

2 June 2014

Seven players from the Northern Sinfonia are undertaking a sponsored ‘Grade 1-athon’ to raise money for Sage Gateshead’s tenth birthday appeal.

The musicians were presented with their new instruments at the start of May. They have until December to get to grips with their instrument, when they will each take part in a public examination at Sage Gateshead.

Orchestra leader and principal violin, Bradley Creswick, is wrestling with a bassoon. Other Royal Northern Sinfonia members tackling the Grade-1-athon include violinists Jenny Chang, Jane Nossek, Kyra Humphreys and Iona Brown who will attempt to master the french horn, flute, oboe and clarinet respectively, flautist Eilidh Gillespie who will learn viola and oboist Steve Hudson who is taking up the cello.

Members of the public are invited to stand alongside the Northern Sinfonia members by collecting sponsorship to learn a new instrument of their own, and sharing the challenge of working to achieve Grade 1 in a few months’ time!

Another tenth birthday appeal event will be ‘24Hours of Folk’ which takes place at 10am on 7 June and runs through to 10am on 8 June. This world-record breaking attempt will see popular folk artists uniting under the banner of Folkworks to deliver an amazing round the clock feast of traditional music, song, dance and stories. Keen musicians are invited to gather sponsorship and take part. If you don’t play but would like to support the record attempt you can attend over the day of the attempt, donate or just spread the word.

Queenswood pupils scoop songwriting prize

27 May 2014



The Amnesty International songwriter competition, part of the annual Amnesty Youth Awards, saw a group of students from Queenswood School win top prize in the Upper Primary / Lower Secondary category.

Leah Grant, Annabel Brin and Eleanor Burrows received their award at a special ceremony in central London last month. Eleanor commented: said: ‘It’s unbelievable to have won and we never expected to get this far in the competition. We were convinced we weren’t going to win because all the finalists were so great. Our piece was about the sensitive issue of homophobia which has been a huge issue this year, from the Uganda anti-gay laws to same-sex marriage in the UK.’


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