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Teaching Materials 2015

British Music Education Yearbook

Music Pages
Music Teacher Guide about Music and Dyslexia

Latest News

RSNO launches scheme for emerging composers

20 August 2015

© Mark Coulsen

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has launched a new initiative to develop the talent of emerging composers.

The RSNO Composers’ Hub will give up to five composers in the early stages of their career the opportunity to write for the orchestra in a range of different contexts during the 2015/16 season.
As well as working with RSNO’s contemporary group, Alchemy, each composer will write a ten-minute work for full symphony orchestra. 

The scheme will culminate in a public workshop in the new RSNO Centre auditorium in Glasgow in April 2016, led by composer and viola player Brett Dean (pictured).

One work will then be chosen to be performed by the RSNO as part of its 2016/17 season. 
Manus Carey, executive producer at the RSNO, said: ‘We are very excited to be launching the pilot year of our new Composers’ Hub.

‘With the imminent move into our new purpose-built home, we will have the opportunity to extend the support we give to Scottish and UK-wide composers, and to provide the creative space for them to explore and develop.’
Dean added: ‘Opportunities presented to emerging composers make an enormously positive difference to the development of a composer’s voice. I’m very happy to be able to contribute to this valuable new initiative by the RSNO.’

The initiative is supported by the PRS for Music Foundation.


Student starts petition to include women on A-level music syllabus

19 August 2015

Two of Caroline Criado-Perez's tweets
Two of Caroline Criado-Perez's tweets

Student Jessy McCabe has started a campaign to ensure that women are represented on Edexcel’s next A-level music syllabus.

After participating in a programme exploring gender inequality, McCabe realised that there were no women amongst the 63 composers featured on the Edexcel A-level music syllabus, and none on the exam board’s proposed syllabus for 2016.

Despite the exam board’s assertion that the course aims to enable students to ‘engage in, and extend the appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music, promoting spiritual and cultural development’, its head of music seemed reluctant to implement change. In response to an email from McCabe, they wrote: ‘[since] female composers were not prominent in the Western Classical tradition (or others for that matter), there would be very few female composers that could be included [in the A Level specification]’.

On the Change.org petition page, McCabe writes: ‘This has got to change. How can we expect girls to aspire to be composers and musicians if they don’t have the opportunity to learn of any role models? How can we accept that the UK’s largest awarding body doesn’t adequately acknowledge the work of female musicians? Why are we limiting diversity in a subject which thrives on its astounding breadth?’

The petition quickly gathered speed on social media. Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez drew a great deal of attention by asking followers to tweet whether or not they covered female composers at school, with the responses proving largely negative. Rebecca Sword (@rebeccasword) replied: 'I did music GCSE and A Level, we never really touched women composers or singers really. All men from Beethoven to Oasis'. Grace Rogers wrote: 'Vicious cycle: women are considered unworthy of study BECAUSE they are systematically excluded from syllabuses'.

Signatories include the composer and academic Lauren Redhead, who wrote: ‘As a music lecturer in HE I frequently observe that students know little of large bodies of music and make assumptions such as the one in the Edexcel response that women have not been involved in Western Art Music as composers. More representative syllabi are needed to give students a rounded education.’

ISM released a statement in support of the petition: ‘We completely agree with Jessy McCabe. Female composers are invisible in Edexcel’s A-level music syllabus. There is no way that an art form can be utterly devoid of female artists; it is just not possible. It is as if Hildegard Von Bingen, Clara Schumann, Roxanna Panufnik and even the new Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir and countless more female composers had never existed. We urge Pearson to take a leaf out of their A-level English Literature syllabus and make sure that their music syllabus is properly representative.’

Ensure the representation of women on the A-Level Music syllabus

RNCM launches short conducting course for music educators

18 August 2015

The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) is launching a short course for conductors working in music education.

The course, which will be delivered through three workshops linked by an e-learning element, will be led by RNCM conducting tutor Mark Heron and Jamie Phillips, assistant conductor at the Hallé.

Aimed at music educators working with youth orchestras, bands and ensembles, the course will enable delegates to develop their technical and artistic skills.

Heron, who is also music director of the Nottingham Philharmonic and Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, said: ‘At the RNCM we are very proud of our conducting courses, both for full-time students and the various short courses that we run.

‘I’m very conscious of the outstanding work done by music educators throughout the UK, and we’re delighted to be able to launch this new course which focuses specifically on the skills needed to work with young musicians.’

The first workshop will take place on 25-26 October at the Whitemoor Lakes Conference Centre in Staffordshire. It will be followed by a second workshop at the RNCM in January and a third at Hallé St Peter’s in March.

The booking deadline is Friday 4 September 2015. Full course details and application packs are available online at www.rncm.ac.uk/short-conducting-courses.

Schools ‘could face shortage of music teachers’

17 August 2015

Music could be particularly vulnerable to a looming shortage of secondary school teachers, according to a leading music education practitioner.

Earlier this month, research by Randstad Education showed that the education sector is facing increasing competition with other careers as graduates set their sights on higher salaries.

The research showed that a fifth (20 per cent) of all UK workers now say pay is the top factor attracting them to a position – up from 12 per cent three years ago.

Jenny Rollinson, managing director of Randstad Education, said: ‘The education sector can’t afford to ignore the sea-change going on in the jobs market at the moment.

‘Schools will need to up their game to make sure they attract the best talent, to make sure that jobs in education win out over other competing career paths, and to ensure a steady stream of teachers into our classrooms.’

Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Savage, reader in education at the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University (pictured), said music in particular could fall victim to a shortage of teachers.

‘In music, there are other issues at play,’ he said. ‘The role of music as a fully fledged subject within the curriculum is under threat.

‘Recent policies have resulted in a tiering of subjects, with music and other non-EBacc subjects at the bottom of the pile.

‘Similarly unhelpful focuses on literacy, numeracy and science in the primary curriculum have resulted in the marginalisation of many other subjects.

‘These curriculum developments have meant that music is not held in the same regard by many within education today.

‘Within the music education hubs, there has been a race to the bottom in terms of price and this has had an effect on pay, terms and conditions for instrumental teachers.

‘It is my impression that these negative changes have begun to filter through to students and others wanting to come into teaching.’

RCM and RNCM top NSS student satisfaction survey

14 August 2015

The Royal College of Music (RCM) and Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) have been rated as the top music colleges in the 2015 National Student Survey (NSS) student satisfaction poll.

The colleges came in joint 74th place in the survey, published on 12 August, with a satisfaction score of 86 per cent.

Next on the list was the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which came in at number 111 with a score of 83 per cent.

The Royal Academy of Music finished in 125th place and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance came in at number 141.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland came in 147th place with a score of 79 per cent, with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama finishing at number 153.

Linda Merrick, principal of the RNCM, said: ‘The NSS is a very important survey for the higher education sector as it provides vital information from students on the quality of teaching and learning they receive.

‘We are delighted with this year’s results, which confirm the RNCM’s commitment to providing a world-class education for its students.

‘Knowing that London can be a highly competitive, and sometimes daunting, place to be a music student, the ethos at the RNCM is on providing the highest quality tuition and training in a supportive but challenging and nurturing environment.’

Conducted annually since 2005, the NSS is a national initiative running across all publicly funded higher education institutions in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the majority in Scotland.

Through a series of 22 questions (scored 1 to 5), final year undergraduates are asked to provide feedback on seven areas of their degree programme: teaching, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, personal development, and overall satisfaction.

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