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Latest News

NYMAZ funding to research digital music education

1 September 2014

Youth music development charity NYMAZ has been awarded funding to research new digital ways of providing music education to children living in isolated areas.

The research, backed by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, will be carried out by NYMAZ in partnership with the North Yorkshire Music Hub, the University of Hull (for research support) and UCan Play (for technology support). Video-streaming technology and online communication tools will be tested to see how successfully they can provide instrumental tuition, staff training, and access to music performances. Seven primary schools in North Yorkshire will take part in the trial.

Heidi Johnson, director of NYMAZ, said: ‘We are delighted to be one of only twelve innovative arts projects to receive funding from the Digital R&D Fund at this final funding round. Our aim is to find a new business model which will enable music hubs across the country to deliver cost-effective but high quality learning to children and young people in the most isolated areas. North Yorkshire makes the perfect test bed as transport times and costs here can limit opportunities to access music tuition and performances.’

Dr Andrew King, senior lecturer in Music and Technology at the University of Hull commented: ‘Children thrive on music and there's plenty of evidence to show how beneficial it can be in their development, so we jumped at the chance to be involved in this innovative project that aims to improve access to high quality music tuition and inspiring performances.’

Managing director of UCan Play Jonathan Savage said they planned to use Roland Systems Group's innovative VR3-EX mixer in the research, as it offers multiple camera angles which should help with making the experience as interactive as possible. It is hoped that the findings of this project will benefit teachers, hubs and children across the country.

Christmas Carol Competition amongst new BBC projects

29 August 2014

BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme announced yesterday the launch of a nationwide Christmas carol competition.

Open to entrants above the age of 16, this exciting project would be appropriate for GCSE and A-level students – or indeed their teachers!

The words for the carol have been specially commissioned from acclaimed author Susan Hill. From the entries, six carols will be shortlisted by a panel including the Master of the Queen’s Music and associate composer with the BBC Singers, Judith Weir, and chief conductor of the BBC Singers, David Hill.

The BBC Singers, who are celebrating their 90th birthday this year, will perform the shortlisted carols live on BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme on Thursday 16 December. Listeners to the programme will be asked to vote for their favourite work, and the winning carol will then be performed again live on 23 December and broadcast on Christmas day.

Running alongside the carol competition are a number of other choral projects:

One Day One Choir will take place in the week leading up to the UN’s International Day of Peace, Sunday 21 September. Groups are encouraged to come together and sing. From this year onwards, the project aims to bring more people on board each year so that by 2018 it is the largest choral event in the world, singing for peace.

The UK’s largest and most prestigious choir competition, Choir of the Year, will be covered by BBC Radio 3. Over the past year more than 150 amateur choirs of all ages, sizes and styles have competed for this accolade. Now the remaining sixteen finalists will fight for the Choir of the Year title. The category final and final will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, with a special Choir of the Year programme to be aired on BBC Four.

Leslie East to take reins at ABCD in new year

25 August 2014

The Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) held its 29th annual convention over the bank holiday weekend in the new buildings of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The weekend included presentations on repertoire, conducting skills and community choirs. Masterclasses were held for intermediate and advanced level conductors, with hands-on advice also available for less experienced conductors.

The Association of British Choral Directors's 29th convention has seen a raft of awards, presentations and big news announcements. 

Presenters and composers attended from home and abroad, including Paul Brough, Paul Deegan, Peter Hanke (Denmark), Jeff Howard, Sofi Jeannin (France), Karl Jenkins, Paul Mealor, Adrian Partington, Katie Thomas, Janice Thompson, Will Todd, and Sanna Valvanne (Finland/USA).

The convention featured the presentation of a new award: the ABCD’s inaugural Chair’s Award for excellence in choral leadership was presented to Gillian Dibden, in particular recognition of her work with youth choirs in Berkshire.

The big news was of musical chairs at the top. It was the last convention as chair for Jonathan Startup. This January he will be handing the role over to Leslie East, the outgoing CEO of ABRSM.


GCSE results 2014: the breakdown

22 August 2014

This year was the second in a row that the GCSE A*-G pass rate has fallen, down to 98.5% from 98.8% in 2013. However, the proportion of students achieving an A*-C grade rose from 68.1% to 68.8% - with one in four exams awarded a C grade.

Music GCSE saw 8.9% of entrants achieving an A* grade (down from 9.1% last year), but an overall rise of entrants by around 1,000. 22.4% of Music GCSEs were awarded an A grade; 25.7% received a B; 19.3% achieved a C; 11.8% a D; 10.9% received grades E-G; and 1% of entrants did not pass.

Friday Afternoons seeks young songwriter

19 August 2014

The 2014 Britten Young Songwriter Competition is on the hunt for a new song which is based on traditional folk influences, from anywhere in the world.

Aldeburgh Music’s international singing project, Friday Afternoons, was launched three years ago in celebration of the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten. The website was initially set up to help engage Suffolk school children in singing, providing them with twelve songs that were written for children by Benjamin Britten. Friday Afternoons quickly spread to become an international project, with thousands of schools and choirs downloading the songs and resources to learn the music for the annual grand finale event.

This year Aldeburgh Music commissioned nine new, fun songs which are all inspired by traditional folk texts. Musicians aged 18 or under are now invited to take part in the Young Songwriter Competition to set music to a traditional folk text from anywhere in the world. Winners from the competition’s two categories (13 or younger, and 14-18) will have their song recorded and published on the Friday Afternoons website, and performed at Snape Maltings concert hall as part of the national Friday Afternoons culmination event.

Entries for the competition must be received by Wednesday 10 September. For more information, visit the Friday Afternoons website

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