Tech Music Schools bought by BIMM Group from founder Francis Seriau
29 July 2010
The London-based popular music academy Tech Music Schools (TMS) has been bought by Brighton and Bristol Institute of Modern Music (BIMM Group), which runs similar privately-owned ‘rock school’ academies in the two cities. BIMM Group made the purchase from TMS founder Francis Seriau, who started the schools in 1983, through investment by the private equity firm Sovereign Capital.
Programmes at TMS and BIMM are similar, offering tuition in instruments across the range of popular music. TMS is explicitly split into five separate schools in Drumtech, Vocaltech, Guitar, Bass Guitar and Keyboardtech. The range of courses offered is also similar, from summer school programmes to three-month diplomas, one-year higher diplomas, and two- and three-year BMus qualifications.
Kevin Nixon, president of BIMM Group, said that the purchase came about as a ‘happy coincidence’ and that the move ‘seemed like a natural fit, as the quality of teaching has always been exceptionally high at both schools – so there was parity in terms of quality.’ Nixon plans to ‘implement a few new systems’ at TMS but insists that, other than the loss of Seriau who does not remain involved, there will be hardly any staff changes. Asked by MT what changes might apply at TMS, Nixon replied that ‘investment in the buildings is a top priority and we’re looking at that very closely… Staff will essentially remain the same’, he said, including TMS director David Howell.
Asked if the purchase of a major rival in the South East of England could lead to a lack of competition in the marketplace, Nixon pointed to the independent Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford and the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance in London as existing rivals in the region. He also revealed that BIMM Group is looking next to Dublin for further expansion, as well as conducting research in America and across the world. ‘There’s almost nowhere we haven’t looked at’ he said.
Nixon rebuffed claims that his schools prepared young people for a career whose industry was in poor shape and lacking in serious opportunities. ‘When people were being pessimistic about the industry I think they were pessimistic about the old business model,’ he said. ‘There are fewer and fewer people not paying for music now than there were a few years ago, and the phenomenal success of iTunes I think proves that the public is coming around to the idea that when you take music without paying you actually take away some of its value. I am in good touch with the four major record labels and they are very healthy.’
Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts under threat
28 July 2010
The future of the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts, at which thousands of schoolchildren take part annually, is under threat.
The festival, which takes place over 12 days in May, features music, dance and drama, and attracts participants from pre-schoolers through to pensioners who perform in around 400 classes. This year, more than 7,000 people from the Cheltenham area and further afield took part.
For the whole of its 84-year history, the festival has been held at Cheltenham Town Hall, which Cheltenham Borough Council has allowed the festival to use free of charge. However, from 2012, the council is planning to charge the festival £24,000 to hire the venue, a fee which is way beyond the festival's shoestring budget.
'The festival is almost entirely run by volunteers so we don't even have the resources to set up a fundraising group,' commented festival chairman Chris Lamminam.
A petition with 2,500 signatures calling on the council to drop the proposed hire charge was handed to the Mayor of Cheltenham on 28 June and the issue will be debated by the full council at a meeting in October. The Gloucestershire Echo has launched a Save the Festival campaign to which high profile artists including soprano Dame Felicity Lott, choreographer Russell Maliphant and theatre director Phyllida Lloyd - all of whom participated in the festival as youngsters - have added their support.
In the meantime, Lamminam and his fellow officers are exploring other ways of ensuring the festival has a future. 'The festival will always go on,' he continued, 'but perhaps in different circumstances.' Although there are several other arts venues in and around Cheltenham, only the Town Hall is big enough to host the entire festival under one roof.
Peter Gardner, headteacher of Leckhampton C of E Primary School, which annually enters as many as 200 children into the festival in choirs, ensembles, as soloists and into poetry and reading classes, is dismayed by the council's threat to withdraw its support.
'The children work very hard to prepare their performances, and are very excited at the prospect, and gain a real sense of achievement,' he said. 'It is a unique opportunity for children of all backgrounds to come together to enjoy their own and each other's performances. It is inclusive, is a valuable learning experience for them and for many children it represents the only chance they have to appear at the Town Hall.'
Music Teacher Prize Draw - Schools Proms!
26 July 2010
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John Paynter, leading music education writer and practitioner, dies
23 July 2010
John Paynter, seminal music educator and theorist, died on 1 July. He was born in London and studied at Trinity College of Music. After National Service he taught in schools, and in 1969 he joined the music department at the University of York.
In 1970 he published Sound and Silence, written in partnership with colleague Peter Aston, which included 36 graded assignments for classroom use. A companion volume, Sound and Structure, was published 24 years later, and in between came All Kinds of Music, Sound Tracks and Hear and Now, a series of projects to integrate music, dance and drama.
Paynter valued musical sensitivity and imagination above technical skill, and was a lifelong advocate of creative approaches to music-making. He believed that in order for children's artistic activity to be truly meaningful it should not be assessed, evaluated, measured, marked or graded.
Paynter was appointed OBE in 1985 and retired from the University of York in 1994. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and a daughter from his first marriage to the late Elizabeth Hill. There will be a full obituary in September's issue of MT, along with a review of Thinking and Making, his collected writings.
Asian Music Circuit Summer School - places still available
22 July 2010
The Asian Music Circuit's Summer School still has places available to study the Japanese, zither-like koto and the Indian singing styles of khyal and thumri in a non-residential course running at London's Royal Academy of Music from 24-30 July.
Dr Ayako Hotta-Lister will teach koto, while respected pandits Rajan and Sajan Misra will teach Khyal. Sunanda Sharma will give tuition in thumri. Other courses in the Indian song style of dhrupad, the Chinese instruments guqin and guzheng, and in Japanese taiko dumming are already full. This year's theme for the school is 'Music and Nature' and the AMC hopes for an 'enjoyable, inspiring course'.
Each teacher will also give a performance at the Purcell Room: taiko drumming tutor Liz Walters and a Rajasthani folk group in a double bill on 29 July; Satish Prakash Qamar playing the shehnai, the double-reeded, oboe-like Indian instrument, in a double bill with ancient Japanese plucked strings on 30 June; Uday Bhawalkar and Sunanda Sharma will be singing dhrupad and thumri respectively on 30 July; and finally pandits Rajan and Sajan Misra will perform in the varanasi tradition on 1 August.
To book a place at the Summer School contact Jasel Nandha on 020 8742 9911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To book tickets for a concert contact the Southbank Centre box office on 0844 875 0073.
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