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Friday Afternoons with Britten

11 October 2013

The eagerly-awaited celebration for Benjamin Britten’s centenary is set to exceed expectations later this month. On Friday 22 November schools and music groups from every corner of the UK, as well as from Australia, Turkey, Singapore and the USA, will mark the composer’s centenary by performing his song cycle Friday Afternoons.

Aldeburgh Music is organising the project, which started as an East Anglian initiative and has since spread to many different countries across nine different time zones. ‘It’s remarkable that a project born in Britten’s home town of Aldeburgh, with its population of 2,500, now looks set to inspire over 100,000 children across the world,’ said chief executive of Aldeburgh Music Jonathan Reekie.

On Friday 22 November performances will begin in Melbourne, Australia at 03:00 GMT, running through to 22:00 GMT in Santa Monica, California. The day’s activities will be showcased online, with performances streamed live from across the globe.

Britten’s Friday Afternoons song cycle was composed for Clive House School in Prestatyn, where Britten’s brother was headmaster. The music is accessible, easy to sing, and lots of fun to perform. Any school anywhere can take part, and free online resources can be downloaded from the project’s website. Arrangements, scores and teaching aids are available for both primary and secondary groups, as well as Braille and signed versions.

KX Collective Calls All Young Musicians!

9 October 2013

The KX Collective is a contemporary music ensemble for 13-18 year olds from all musical backgrounds which is supported by the London Sinfonietta. During school half term holidays the group gets together to write a piece and perform music, under the guidance of Fraser Trainer and Paul Griffiths. All the music is written in an improvisatory style, without any notation.

This year the KX Collective will be returning to the Southbank Centre, performing at February's Secondary Schools Concert and the Nucleo Weekend in June. 

The first meeting of this season will run from Monday 28 October - Thursday 31 October at Highbury Grove School, with a final performance at The Forge on Friday 1 November. Any young people interested in taking part should email together@londonsinfonietta.org.uk. More details can be found on the London Sinfonietta website.

U-Turn from Fife Council over Music Tuition

7 October 2013

Fife council has backed down from a radical proposal to scrap instrumental music tuition for all pupils except those sitting Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) music exams. The proposal met with furious reaction from teachers, musicians and local schools who said that such a move would rob the young people of Fife of the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

Leader of Fife council Alex Rowley announced this weekend that the council has decided not to go ahead with the proposal, which was part of a wide range of cuts being considered by the local authority. 'My view is that if we were to take this option, we would in effect be wiping music education out,' he told reporters from Scotland on Sunday. 'This proposal will remain exactly that. It will not figure in our budget going forward. It will not happen.'  

Abolishing SQA tuition charges was one of 17 suggestions made in a report to the Scottish Government over the summer by the instrumental music group, as reported by Music Teacher last August. Learning a musical instrument is something that was once free to all children across Scotland. Following the success of its 'Let the Children Play' campaign over the summer, Scotland on Sunday is currently putting pressure on local councils to scrap instrumental tuition fees in all Scottish schools. Over the coming months, Scottish local authorities will be ordered to review their charging policies to ensure that no child who wants to learn an instrument will miss out. 

Plea from a Headmaster

1 October 2013

Paul Jackson is the headmaster of Gallions Primary School, which is based in one of the 5% most deprived areas of the UK. The school is currently expanding to over 700 children over the next couple of years, and Paul has a vision: all Gallions pupils from the age of six will learn to play a stringed instrument.

The Gallions music programme is already underway, with great success. Staff believe that this programme has vastly improved the children's self-esteem, confidence, behaviour, and attitudes to learning. However, the school has now run out of space to continue the programme, and needs to invest in a music block building.

Many pledges have been received, and the school is now trying to raise the last £50,000 needed for this project. If you would like to make a donation to the cause, click here if you are an individual or here if you are part of an organisation. For more information, feel free to email PJackson@gallions.newham.sch.uk.

Music Teacher Awards for Excellence 2014

30 September 2013

Following the success of last year's inaugural awards, the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence 2014 are now open for nominations.

Held in conjunction with Music Education Expo 2014, the awards evening will be held on 7 February 2014 in the Barbican's newly refurbished Garden Room & Conservatory.

Two new awards have been added to this year's list: Best SEN Resource, and Excellence in Primary/Early Years Music. Other areas open for nominations are:

- Best Musical Initiative

- Best Print Resource, sponsored by Rhinegold Publishing

- Best Digital/Technological Resource

- Best School Music Department

- Hub Innovation Award, sponsored by the Musicians' Union

- Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Black Cat Music and MusicPracticeRooms.com

- Music Teacher Magazine Editor’s Award

- Most Innovative Retailer

- Best Classical Music Education Initiative, sponsored by Classic FM 

If you know a person, organisation, or indeed product, worthy of winning one of these prestigious awards, please get involved in supporting music education's best and most deserving recipients! Nominations close on 7 November 2013. Finalists will be announced on 18 November via the Expo's social network sites, and in December's issue of Music Teacher magazine.

To download a nomination form, please visit the Music Education Expo website. Completed forms can be emailed to music.teacher@rhinegold.co.uk.

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