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Latest News

Youth Music grants to promote inclusivity

1 August 2014

The National Foundation for Youth Music has just announced a refurbishment of its grants programme, with the aim of promoting diversity and inclusivity across England.

Youth Music is currently investing £20 million in 400 projects throughout the country. Its refreshed grants programme has been streamlined to help children in challenging circumstances who cannot afford access to music education. Despite the government’s recent pledge of an extra £18 million to music education, the number of school children accessing subsidised music lessons is still running six percentage points below the number of pupils receiving free school meals. This suggests that many of the children who can least afford it are missing out on music education.

As part of its new grants programme, Youth Music will be raising the upper age limit to qualify for investment to 25 years. This is in light of the challenging transition faced by many young people in the transition from studying to employment. A new award has also been made available of £2,000-£30,000, aimed at supporting smaller organisations and projects.

Matt Griffiths, executive director of Youth Music’s, said: ‘The recent announcement of additional funds for music education is fantastic news, but Youth Music projects often focus on those organisations, musicians, and young people hidden from mainstream services and provision.  It’s essential that their voices, and indeed, their music are considered as part of the musical fabric of this country.  Our updated programme makes funding these projects simpler and should create even greater diversity and inclusivity amongst hubs.’

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.’

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