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Latest News

Music For All Announces Learn To Play

28 February 2014

The third national Learn To Play Day will take place on 12 April. Organised by Music For All in partnership with the Musicians Union, Take It Away, Music Teachers and MusicRadar, the event offers more than 10,000 free instrument ‘taster’ lessons for people of all ages.   

Over 100 musical instrument shops and other venues throughout the UK will host events offering anyone who would like to try an instrument the opportunity to have a free lesson.   

Full details of the event, including participating shops and local appearances, can be found on the Learn To Play website.

Head Teachers At Risk of Breaching Lifetime Tax Allowance

27 February 2014

MyCSP, UK central government’s first mutual joint venture and administrator of the civil service pension scheme, is urging teachers to be aware of the effect that new reductions in taxation limits may have on their pensions.


Reductions in pensions taxation limits from April this year mean that Head Teachers retiring after 5 April could breach the Lifetime Allowance for tax efficient pensions savings for the first time. The corresponding reduction to the Annual Allowance could also affect teachers at lower grades who receive a promotion.


From 6 April 2014, the Lifetime Allowance (LTA), which is the maximum amount of pension savings that benefits from tax relief over a person’s lifetime, will reduce from £1.5m to £1.25m. The limit on the tax efficient pensions savings that can be made in any one year, the Annual Allowance, will also reduce from £50,000 to £40,000.


A teacher being promoted to Head of Department or Head Teacher could breach the annual allowance if he or she has over 20 years’ service. Teachers could also be affected if their pension value exceeds £40,000 over the year, causing them to breach their annual allowance.


MyCSP is advising employers to support teachers through the changes so that they are aware of how they might be affected, the options available to them and the action they need to take. Teachers should consider their intended retirement date, the amount of lump sum they plan to take, likely increase in their pay and options for flexible working. Crucially, members need to consider whether to apply to for fixed protection to protect the current lifetime allowance of £1.5m before 5 April 2014.



RSCM Announces Honorary Awards

27 February 2014

Harry Christophers CBE, founder and conductor of The Sixteen, is among a number of leading church musicians to receive honorary awards later this year from the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). He is to be honoured with a Fellowship of the RSCM (FRSCM) along with Stephen Darlington, Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.    

Honorary awards are conferred by the RSCM Council for outstanding contributions to church music, and range from Fellowship (FRSCM) and Associateship (ARSCM) to Honorary Membership and Certificate of Special Service. Nominations are received from RSCM volunteers worldwide. Awards will be presented at a special service in Hereford Cathedral on 4 October.     

Christophers is being honoured for bringing Renaissance church music back into the churches and cathedrals for which it was written. As Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Darlington is being honoured for maintaining exemplary daily standards of service and performance, and for nurturing a generation of organists, directors and singers who are now making significant contributions to church music.    

Two academics are also being honoured with Fellowships; Dr Ian Sharp, who has been a long-standing member of both the RSCM Council and the RSCM Liverpool Area Committee. Professor JR (Dick) Watson,  Emeritus Professor of English at Durham University, is being honoured for his contribution to the editing of hymns.   

Commenting on this year’s honorary awards, Andrew Reid, Director of the RSCM said: ‘These awards are made to those who have given great service to church music, whether through the work of the RSCM, or in a number of other ways. I would like to thank everyone who submitted nominations of those whose contribution at local, area, national or international level too often goes unrecognised. We look forward to celebrating the work of this year’s recipients at our Celebration Day in Hereford on 4 October.’


Young Songwriters Competition Call for Entries

26 February 2014

The Song Academy Young Songwriters (SAYS) has launched its third annual competition. There are two categories – 7-12 and 13-18 – and entrants may enter individually or as a group. Entrants may enter up to three separate songs, and all lyrics and music must be original work.

The winners will have their song professionally produced at Universal Music’s London studios. In addition, the 13-18 year old winner will win a PreSonus AudioBox Studio, Notion 4 songwriting software and £500 of Shure audio equipment.  Selected winners and finalists will be part of the SAYS14 compilation album distributed through AWAL (Artists without a label). The deadline to enter the competition is 6 April and entry is free. 


ROH Announces Competition for Young Composers

20 February 2014


 The Royal Opera House (ROH) is accepting entries to its Fanfare Competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition offers composers aged 11–16 the chance to have their music arranged by composer Duncan Chapman, recorded by the Orchestra of the ROH and then played to audience members. By the end of May this year, the Royal Opera House will have recorded 50 Front of House Fanfares as part of the Fanfare Competition.


Competition winners will work closely with Duncan Chapman and members of the orchestra to arrange their fanfares through a series of workshops. ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano and the orchestra will record final versions of the winning fanfares on 24 May in the Main Stage auditorium pit. These fanfares will be played in the Front of House spaces to encourage audience members to take their seats.


To enter the competition, applicants must upload their 30-second composition in MP3 format to the website by 17 March. Also available on the website are resources to help teachers integrate this project into the KS3 and GCSE curriculums.

 The winning compositions will be selected by a panel including Music Director for The Royal Ballet Barry Wordsworth, composer Judith Weir and Antonio Pappano.


Pappano said: ‘The winning participants come into the recording sessions to help me shape these pieces. They change the tempo and orchestration, so that they are involved in actually creating the music, which is a fantastic and important experience.’



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