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Music education in New Year's Honours

3 January 2014, Alex Stevens

Music for Everyone: MBE for founder Angela Kay
Music for Everyone: MBE for founder Angela Kay

Several music education figures have been recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.

The founder and director of Nottingham-based charity Music For Everyone, Angela Kay, was awarded the MBE for services to music in Nottinghamshire. Founded in 1983 as the Nottingham Choral Trust, Music For Everyone now offers music opportunities for more than 1,800 people each year through a small staff and hundreds of volunteers.

Tony Douglas, brass teacher and ensemble leader at Morley College, London, was awarded the MBE for services to further education. Douglas has led the Morley Big Band for more than 20 years and founded the less advanced Morley Swing Band more than 10 years ago. More recently he founded the Morley Big Starter Band and the Starting in Big Band course.

Carol Pemberton, founder and musical director of Black Voices, was awarded the MBE for services to music. She told the BBC she was ‘doing something that I love to do and to be recognised for it is totally humbling’. The group was founded in 1987 with the preservation of black oral music traditions at the heart of its mission.

Joyce Ellis, founder and musical director, Kinder Children's Choirs of the High Peak, was awarded the MBE for services to music and young people in Derbyshire. The organisation celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011.

John Ruddick, musical director of Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, was awarded the MBE for services to jazz. Over more than 20 years Ruddick has led the group in several competition wins and UK and foreign tours. The MYJO has received awards from the International Association of Jazz Education for outstanding services to jazz education.

The departing master of the Queen’s music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, was named a Companion of Honour. He said: ‘I am delighted to be joining such distinguished company in receiving the Order of the Companions of Honour. It is vital that society acknowledges the importance of the arts and related fields, and, for me, this honour is recognition for the art of composition and classical music in general. Anything that raises the profile of our art form is both wonderful and most welcome.’

The British Empire Medal was awarded to: Valetta Cranmer, Sandbach Ladies Choir, East Cheshire; June Davenhill, musical director, Pelsall Ladies Choir; Colin Edgar, musical director, Suffolk Constabulary Male Choir; Judith Land, musical director, Alcester Male Voice Choir; Gordon Speers, musical director, Portadown Male Voice Choir; and Donald Keith Coleman, director, Rivenhall Church Choir.

Other musicians honoured include Sir Simon Rattle, named a member of the prestigious Order of Merit; pianist Stephen Hough and opera director John Copley, awarded the CBE; crossover singer Katherine Jenkins, ENO chief executive Loretta Tomassi, opera librettist Paul Griffiths, Musicians Benevolent Fund chief executive David Sulkin, and Gillian Humphreys, founder and artistic director of the Concordia Foundation, all awarded the OBE.

BBC Young Musician 2014 countdown begins

27 December 2013

Category finalists have been announced for the BBC Young Musician competition, the grand final of which takes place on 18 May 2014 at Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Five finalists were selected for each instrumental section, from more than 450 entries. All performers are aged between 8 and 18.

The Category Finals will take place from 3 to 7 March this year in the Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff. The semi-final follows on 9 March. BBC Young Musician will be broadcast extensively on BBC FOUR and BBC Radio 3.

For the first time, BBC Young Musician incorporates a jazz award. Running alongside the established classical music format, the first ever BBC Young Musician Jazz Award will comprise two audition stages followed by a final on 8 March, to be held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The Jazz Award finalists will be announced in early February.

The 2014 Category Finalists are as follows:

StringsWilliam Dutton (18) – violin; Anna Im (16) – violin; Elizaveta Tyun (18) – violin; Roberto Ruisi (17) – violin; Juliana Myslov (17) - harp

KeyboardMartin Bartlett (17) - piano; Ning Hui See (17) – piano; Hayley Parkes (18) - piano; Julian Trevelyan (15)  - piano; Isata Kanneh-Mason (17) - piano

WoodwindHannah Foster (17) - flute; Daniel Shao (18) - flute; Jessika Gillam (15) - saxophone; Nick Seymour (17) - saxophone; Sophie Westbrooke (15) - recorder

BrassEllena Newton (14) - trombone; Isobel Daws (14) - trombone; Matilda Lloyd (18) - trumpet; Lewis Bettles (18) - trombone; William Thomas (13) – trumpet

PercussionMatthew Farthing (17); Elliott Gaston-Ross (15); Jess Wood (16); Tom Highnam (17); Stefan Beckett (18)

Tees Valley Music Service At Risk

13 December 2013

A £700,000 cut in funding from the Arts Council for Tees Valley Music Service has put 13 jobs at risk.

Stockton Borough Council, which manages the music service, is currently running a staff consultation period between now and 20 January. According to the council the funding cuts will lead to 'a revision to staffing structures, incremental changes to fees and charges, and a new model of service delivery'. Teaching staff will be asked to consider taking voluntary redundancies.

Tees Valley Music Service has provided music-making opportunities for around 25,000 young people across Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, and Redcar & Cleveland. In May 2013 the Arts Council had promised the music service an investment of £3m over the next three years, which was to go towards ensuring more pupils had access to learning an instrument. The latest announcements mean that Tees Valley will face a hard struggle to maintain current levels of music services, with MP Alex Cunningham describing the cuts as 'bad news for music, musicians and teachers'.  

Surprise! It's an Ofsted visit...

11 December 2013

The chief inspector of Ofsted’s annual report, published today, concludes that schools and colleges across the country are generally performing better than at this time last year. Nevertheless, ‘serious challenges’ in certain areas mean that inspectors will start making ‘no-notice’ visits to schools in England suffering from poor behavioural standards.

In the report, HMI Sir Michael Wilshaw notes three main areas to be addressed over the coming year: ‘mediocre’ teaching and leadership; regional variation in the quality of education; and the underachievement of children from low-income families. Sir Michael also announced that disruption and inattention in the classroom had been tolerated for too long, and inspectors would be making surprise visits to certain schools from January 2014.

Sir Michael called on the National College for Teaching and Leadership to provide incentives for high quality staff to spread out over the country. He also recommended that the government considers a return to the formal external testing of children at the end of KS1.

The annual report is available to view at

Brass Bands in Kent

10 December 2013

Three new brass bands have been created for young people in Shepway, including one for complete beginners. Supported by Kent music education’s Soundhub, the new Shepway Brass Academy meets twice a week at Folkestone Academy Secondary, with each session costing just £1 per child.

The initiative is run by Swedish music expert Christer Aberg, who has 40 years’ experience teaching brass instruments to children and young people as well as degrees in conducting and brass band performance from Chichester and Sheffield universities.

Tuition is provided at three levels, with around thirty children in each group. The Beginner’s Band is run for children with no previous experience of a brass instrument; those with approximately one year’s tuition can join the Training Band, and the (already existing) Junior Band will cater for more experienced players.

‘As well as learning and having fun, the bands will be very much orientated towards performance,’ says Soundhub projects manager Mark Mortimer. ‘Christer has been putting together a schedule of events in which the children can showcase some of the music they have practised.’

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