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Drum teacher in angry protest after primary school charges him £80 a month

8 April 2015

Angry: Stuart Ellerton

A private music teacher from North Yorkshire has spoken out after a primary school began charging him £80 a month to teach on the premises.

Stuart Ellerton, a drum teacher from Darlington, used to teach a regular cohort of children at Whinstone Primary in Ingleby Barwick during school time.

However, last year the school began charging him for the time he spent there. Ellerton has left the school in protest and has spoken to the local press about the ‘damaging and unfair’ charges.

‘I left in protest as I could not continue to be a part of this immoral, ludicrous and grossly unfair practice,’ he told Music Teacher.

‘This is potentially an incredibly dangerous situation. Imagine all Key Stage 2 schools in the country doing this.'

Ellerton said the Musicians' Union had written to Mike Poppitt, headteacher of Whinstone Primary, to inform him that the practice may be illegal.

‘I have been teaching since the age of 18 professionally and have never encountered such an unfair system,' he added. 'I teach at five other schools and even the heads there have expressed their disbelief.’

Ellerton called for a change in the law to ensure the practice does not become widespread. ‘This could put thousands of superb high quality and experienced tutors of music completely out of work, leaving less experienced vultures to pick up the work,’ he said.

Poppitt said Whinstone Primary had a duty to make the best use of its assets and the number of children receiving music lessons in the school was on the increase.

Government announces new centralised copyright license system

7 April 2015

Politicians have agreed a new system that they say will make it easier for schools to apply for music copyright licenses.

The government confirmed last week that copyright licences will be held centrally from now on, freeing schools from the burden of applying for them independently.

Previously, licences for the use of music had to be bought individually by schools and local authorities, often involving expensive and time-consuming negotiations.

The copyright licences will cover a wide variety of uses of music, including the recording of pupils’ performances on CD and DVD, school discos, radios in the staffroom and even holding music on telephones.  

The latest deals follow previous agreements over the past two years on rights to use films, TV shows and newspapers in schools.

Schools minister David Laws said: ‘We want to do all we can to support [schools] to reduce the burden of unnecessary tasks so they can channel their resources into what is most important – educating young people.  

‘The simplifying of copyright licensing in schools is another example of this, giving schools across the country the freedom to work on raising attainment levels further while saving millions of pounds.’

However, some leading music education practitioners have questioned the importance of the announcement.

Music teacher and blogger Jane Werry said: ‘This might put some people’s minds at rest but it will not make a huge difference to what they do.

‘Many teachers are not 100 per cent sure whether they are working within the law or not. There are massive grey areas around this stuff which we have been operating in for years.

‘If there is going to be any change, it should be to make more explicit what is and isn’t legal.’

Kent music education hub unveils digital ukulele lessons for primary schools

2 April 2015

Soundhub, the music education hub for Kent, has unveiled an online music education programme that enables non-specialist primary school teachers to deliver ukulele lessons.

MusicPlus Digital is a 30-week programme aimed at children aged 7 to 11. It consists of 15 digital lessons, each up to 40 minutes long, interspersed with 15 ‘live’ lessons delivered by a professional ukulele teacher.
 
The initiative has been trialled over two years and the initial pilot programme has now been rolled out to 25 primary schools across Kent.

Soundhub is hoping to sell MusicPlus Digital across the UK’s other 122 music hubs as well as to independent schools in the UK and music education providers overseas.
 
The programme is website-based and access can be purchased for £300 per school. There will be discounts available for bulk sales from music hubs, clusters of schools or groups of academies.

Musician Jake Painter, who presents the online lessons, said: ‘The ukulele is becoming the most popular instrument in primary schools and MusicPlus Digital also helps schools to cover Key Stage 2 National Curriculum, using sound educational principles, such as use of notation, pitch, composition and rhythm.’
 
Peter Bolton, chief executive of Soundhub, said: ‘Our two-year trial has shown that MusicPlus Digital can be of enormous benefit to teachers, whether or not they have specialist music training.

‘While the children watch and listen to Jake, the teacher can pass among them, helping individuals with hand-positioning and fingering, ensuring that all students receive the personal attention they need to keep up.
 
‘The ukulele is an inexpensive instrument, with basic models available for as little as £12. We believe that every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument and MusicPlus Digital gives schools a cost-effective option for making high quality, whole-class music education more inclusive.’

South Hampstead High School singers named GDST Young Choir of the Year

1 April 2015

A choir of pupils from South Hampstead High School has been crowned the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Young Choir of the Year.

The 40 junior school students were awarded the title after a competition at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre last week.

The winning songs were Feed the Birds (words and music by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman) and The Rhythm of Life (music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields).

The final featured eight choirs from across the GDST network of 24 schools and two academies. They performed in front of a panel of judges including children’s composer Sheila Wilson, soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and voice specialist and composer Lin Marsh.

The other finalists were Bromley High School, Kensington Prep School, Putney High, Brighton and Hove High School, Oxford High School for Girls, Newcastle High School for Girls and Wimbledon High School.

Helen Fraser, chief executive of the GDST, said: ‘Music is such an important part of life in all GDST schools. It is wonderful to see so many young people showcasing their talents at this prestigious event in such a high-profile venue.

‘All our schools encourage young people to develop an appreciation for music early in life and I look forward to hearing more from our finalists in the future.’

The GDST is the leading group of independent girls’ schools in the UK, with nearly 4,000 staff and 20,000 students between the ages of three and 18.

As a charity that owns and runs 24 schools and two academies in England and Wales, it reinvests all its income in its schools.

London College of Music launches online exam repertoire shop

31 March 2015

The London College of Music (LCM) has launched a new online shop in collaboration with Boosey & Hawkes.

The LCM Shop stocks more than 2,000 exam handbooks and publications, including repertoire from all publishers for the LCM syllabus. It also stocks the full range of Registry of Guitar Tutors (RGT) exam publications and handbooks, as well as music on exam lists from all other publishers.

An ‘exam music finder’ offers teachers and students a quick and easy way to select the sheet music they require for exams. After an instrumental syllabus and grade have been selected, exam lists are displayed with publications available for each piece.

John Howard, director of LCM Exams, said: ‘This is an excellent development, making our publications and other related exam repertoire much more easily available to all. We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative project.’

David Allenby of Boosey & Hawkes added: ‘We are delighted to partner the London College of Music to create this new online shop and exam music finder.

‘The UK examination sector is a world leader and our provision of online music shops helps organisations expand and supply exam music to teachers and students internationally.’


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