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Latest News

More Provision Needed for Disabled Children

31 July 2014

Lord Lipsey, the chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, made an appeal yesterday that more attention is paid to the musical needs of the disabled.

While applauding the work of the One-Handed Instrument Trust , Lord Lipsey expressed concern that the government’s 2011 National Plan for Music Education does not address the needs of disabled children.

‘No one doubts the importance of music in education for people facing mental challenges,’ he commented. ‘Examples abound for example of children with profound learning difficulties who only seem to be reached by the power of music. And certainly we would not tolerate for an instant an education system that said that children with disabilities should be excluded for example from sport – less so than ever following the triumph of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

 ‘But of equal importance are instruments for musical children who have limited arm movements, and a national project for music teachers in the use of these instruments.’

ABRSM's Piano Practice Partner

27 July 2014

A new app has just been released by the ABRSM which aims to make practice more enjoyable for pianists learning the grade 1-3 repertoire.  ]

The Piano Practice Partner allows students to practise the left or right hand of the music on its own, while the app plays the other hand. All of the pieces in the new ABRSM piano syllabus for grades 1 to 3 can be used in conjunction with the new app, which is available for download from iTunes and Google Play. 

Stuart Briner, ABRSM’s digital learning manager, said: ‘Used in conjunction with our Grade 1-3 repertoire books, Piano Practice Partner is a great way to prepare your pieces in a flexible and enjoyable way. There are many ways this app can be used whilst learning new pieces, from working at different speeds, to setting markers to allow repeated practice of challenging sections, or developing memorisation skills. We hope Piano Practice Partner will be a useful, musical and inspiring tool for anyone teaching or learning our Grade 1-3 piano repertoire.’ 

For more information on the Piano Practice Partner, visit the ABRSM website.

Independence for Musical Futures

24 July 2014

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which has funded and managed Musical Futures since 2003, has announced that it will be supporting the project in its transition to becoming an independent, not-for-profit organisation. The Foundation will provide three years of funding, amounting to £1.2 million, enabling Musical Futures to be independent from 2015. 

Abigail D’Amore, chief executive designate of Musical Futures, commented: ‘The Musical Futures team are delighted with the generous offer of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation trustees. We have been given a unique opportunity to expand the work of Musical Futures into new sectors, and develop a fully self-sustaining organisation committed to providing high-quality participatory music learning experiences for all children and young people.’  

Further details on these developments, including recruitment opportunities, will shortly be posted on the Musical Futures website.

Hubs funding boosted to £75m for 2015/16

22 July 2014, Alex Stevens

The Department for Education has announced that central funding for the network of 123 music education hubs in England will be more than £75m in 2015/16, described as ‘an £18m funding boost’ by education minister Nick Gibb.

The £75m figure represents a year-on-year increase of nearly 30%, and is in cash terms a return to the settlement in 2012-13, the year in which the music hubs system was first implemented. Funding subsequently decreased to £63m in 2013/14 and £58m in 2014/15. Funding levels after 2016 will be dependent on the result of the 2015 general election.

A DfE statement said the funding ‘will mean thousands more disadvantaged pupils will have access to music lessons and enable hubs to purchase tens of thousands more instruments’.

Gibb said of the move: ‘Music hubs have made a very encouraging start - and now we want to build on that. That is why we are increasing funding by £18 million. No children should miss out on the inspiration and excitement that music can bring to their lives.’

Darren Henley, the managing director of Classic FM whose review of England’s music education led to the National Plan for Music Education and the recommendation of the hubs model, said the announcement was ‘great news’.

‘I’m delighted the Department of Education is now spending even more in this vital area. Music hubs have already helped hundreds of thousands of children try a musical instrument, sing or join a choir or orchestra.’

The Incorporated Society of Musicians established the Protect Music Education Campaign earlier this year, initially in response to a DfE consultation document position on local authority funding of music education. It said the announcement was ‘a substantial victory for the Protect Music Education campaign’.

‘The campaign has been a united voice for music education, defending key funding ever since the Government launched a damaging consultation in March 2014 suggesting local authorities stop funding their music services.’

The ISM’s chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said: ‘This is wonderful news for all children and young people. This funding is a critical component in ensuring that access to music education is there and we welcome this decision by the new secretary of state.

‘We now hope that all political parties will commit to music education funding until 2020 and that the Department for Education remove the damaging guidance to local authorities when they respond to the recent consultation.’

England’s music education sector had been waiting for details of funding after next March for some time, with the awarding body, Arts Council England, having committed to funding the same hubs as are currently in place rather than run a reallocation process.

An ACE spokesperson said in June that ‘given the time scales involved we do not intend to run a bidding process for 2015-16. Existing arrangements will remain in place until the end of the financial year 2015-16, letting hubs focus on improving quality and delivery.’

A DfE statement said: ‘A key objective of music hubs is to give every 5- to 18-year-old the chance to learn to play an instrument as part of whole class tuition for at least a term.

‘Many hubs are also subsidising instrument hire to those on low incomes so nobody’s background is a barrier to music. For example, in Hull instrument hire is for all who are having music lessons at their Music Hub. In Brighton instruments can be hired for £37 a term but families on low incomes can hire an instrument for free.’

Creativity Project supports young composers

21 July 2014

A report has been published by Music4U which examines music provision for young people between the ages of eleven and eighteen in York and the Humber Region.

Funded by Youth Music, the ‘Creativity Project’ is based on hands-on musical exploration as well as research. The report focuses on the issues surrounding young people starting out in the field of composition.

The project began as a series of workshops and short courses which were attended by over 100 young people. All the participants came from communities that have low levels of engagement with music. Professional musicians and composers worked with the young musicians, helping them learn the skills and gain the confidence required to create their own music.

The musicians leading the workshops were asked to document their experiences, recording their successes as well the challenges they encountered. This first-hand evaluation was collected and used as the basis of the report, which contains a summary of the project alongside ideas for the development of further creative work in the region.

Delma Tomlin, director of the National Centre For Early Music (NCEM), commented: ‘Our aim was to bring together young people, teachers, youth workers and pastoral staff, and professional composers/creative musicians in practical music-making sessions.  The outcomes have been tremendously varied and inspiring. They have ranged from ukulele players in Goole writing pop songs, young people with special needs in York and Hull improvising and developing new gamelan pieces, special school students in Scunthorpe producing dubstep and electronica music to young bands in Immingham writing rock songs. The young composers have also made music videos and Pupil Support Units and schools across the region have experimented with technology and different instruments. We wanted to build confidence and give freedom to young people to create music in their own time, with groups of friends and in community and youth centres.’

Richard Hallam MBE, music education consultant, said of the report: ‘Much of the recent focus of the National Plan for Music Education has been on active music-making through instrumental and vocal ensemble work. Whilst composing and performing are present in best practice, this is not always the case. This is one of several reasons why this report is so important. It is impossible to make music without someone composing or improvising!

 ‘The Creativity Project has resulted in a rich resource for everyone. There is much good advice on composing and improvising, in and out of school. There are helpful conclusions and strategic and practical recommendations, as well as 37 new pieces that can be listened to online.’

The report is available to download from the NCEM website.

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