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Reading's Mtpp becomes MA in Instrumental Teaching

18 August 2010

The University of Reading has rebranded its former Music Teaching in Professional Practice (Mtpp) course as an MA in Instrumental Teaching. The change has been made to reflect the fact that, according to course director Nils Franke, ‘after 15 years of the MTPP, it seemed the right time to say “this is what it does”.’

Franke told MT: ‘We found that students identified their practice very much with instrumental, not classroom, teaching and we wanted to acknowledge that.’

The course content has also changed, putting greater influence on ‘blended learning’, the pedagogy of different learning environments. As with the MTPP course, the bulk of the MA is correspondence-based with a residential August summer school, and the new course will make use of this structure, for instance by regularly referring back to shared lessons or lectures held at the summer school or by developing a ‘peer review blog’ which will allow participants to develop, as Franke puts it, ‘a feedback loop’.

The course is split into five modules, paid for individually to give some flexibility to those who take it, and is generally taught to a wide range of peripatetic teachers who are looking for a way to develop their careers as teachers or to move into academia. ‘Often they apply because there isn’t a formal career progression for music teachers,’ says Franke, ‘or because they want to set themselves apart from the crowd of other teachers’.

MT will have a full report from this year’s summer school in MT October.

NAME conference to tackle ‘pupil voice’, Sing Up and music service funding

18 August 2010

The National Association of Music Educators (NAME) Conference will be held at Yarnfield Park Training and Conference Centre, Staffordshire, from 17 to 19 September. The theme of this year’s conference will be ‘Finding the pupil voice’, and it will aim to answer such questions as ‘Why seek the pupil voice?’, ‘Does music education today respond to this voice?’, and ‘How do we develop young people’s leadership in music education?’.

Guest Speaker at the event will be percussionist Evelyn Glennie, with keynote speeches from early years consultant Marjorie Ouvry; Mark Phillips, Ofsted’s national adviser for music; Mark Stephens, the director of children and young people’s services for Cheshire West and Chester; and Mick Waters, president of the Curriculum Foundation, which campaigns for and helps schools to develop a broad curriculum.

The conference is aimed at all music teachers or practitioners working at all levels, as well as lecturers in higher and initial teacher education, advisors, consultants, music service staff, and musicians working in the community. Workshops, debates and research presentations will be held on a variety of subjects, with an emphasis on classroom-based teaching.

For instance, sessions on primary music will include Em Whitfield Brooks sharing techniques for encouraging whole-class or whole-school singing at KS1 and KS2; Richard Charles exploring whole class music-making with sticks, using the Tamboo Bamboo bands of Trinidad and Tobago as inspiration; and David Wheway giving ideas on how to use IT at KS1 and KS2, using the free sound editing program Audacity.

Research presentations will include John Finney’s examination of the inferred and actual needs of a pupil, and how a better understanding of how these might work together could clarify the role of the ‘pupil's voice’; Jonathan Barnes on music at the heart of cross-curricular learning for 3-14 year-olds; and Joanne Cheetham’s ethnographic analysis of her school’s extra-curricular rock school.

Debates will also be held on the following topics: ‘What is the Sing Up legacy and how can it be sustained post-2011?’; ‘A crisis in secondary music?’ led by Robert Bunting; ‘What do we want funding to achieve within music education services?’; and ‘The role of the pupil voice’, a plenary debate led by John Finney.

‘Come and share your thoughts and experiences,’ said Rob Nash, chair of NAME. ‘The NAME conference will inspire and challenge any teacher – and meeting colleagues working in all areas of music education will keep teachers informed and up-to-date.’

Tickets start at £104 for a day pass and rise to £395 for all three days, including meals and accommodation.

3 Choirs Festival unveils new youth choir

18 August 2010

A NEW youth choir formed with the aim of reducing the average age of singers taking part in the Three Choirs Festival made its debut in Tewkesbury Abbey last month. Singers aged between 16 and 25 from the area between Bristol and Birmingham were invited to audition for the choir, which involved attending two rehearsal weekends at John Masefield School, Ledbury, Herefordshire in April and July ahead of the performance on 13 August of Handel’s ‘Coronation’ anthems and J S Bach’s Magnificat, with the Corelli Orchestra and conducted by Adrian Partington, director of music at Gloucester Cathedral and artistic director of this year’s festival.

It is Partington’s first year in charge of the Three Choirs Festival, which takes place in rotation at Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester and has its origins in ‘music meetings’ founded almost 300 years ago. The introduction of a youth choir is one of his major innovations. Announcing his plans a year ago, Partington admitted that he had ‘a bee in my bonnet’ about getting younger people involved in choral singing. ‘Because of the decline in parish church choirs and changes to music in schools the vast majority of children don’t get the opportunity to sing “real” music,’ he said, adding that even those who do have experience of traditional choral repertoire are reluctant to join adult choirs because of the commitment involved. So this new venture was based on a couple of short, sharp bursts of activity aimed at giving them a taste of the Three Choirs experience, in the hope that they would get hooked.

The project was supported by a number of individuals, trusts and foundations and was awarded an ‘Inspire’ mark by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (signifying the project’s good management, lack of commercialism, and inspirational qualities). The choir was drawn predominantly from the Gloucester area and included a large number of singers from the cathedral’s existing youth choir, and many former choristers from the Three Choirs cathedrals. Their skill and confidence was evident from the quality of the performance, but Partington insisted afterwards that there were others in the choir who had very little experience of singing this kind of repertoire. ‘As usually happens in this sort of situation, they were pulled along by the people around them and learned very fast.’

Jessie Pywell, 22 and a music student at Leeds University, told MT that she was bitten by the choral singing bug as a schoolgirl when she joined the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir ‘and now it has taken over my life’. She was keen enough to take part in the last Gloucester Three Choirs Festival in 2007 as a member of the adult chorus, and says she enjoyed singing with older people who know the repertoire very well. ‘They were very friendly, and it’s just phenomenal to sing something like The Dream of Gerontius or Mahler 8 with a huge choir. As a young singer you normally don’t get that opportunity.’ But she admits that not every teenager or 20-something wants to put themselves in that position, and having a substantial cohort of younger singers at this year’s festival was ‘really nice’.

It is hoped that more singers from Herefordshire and Worcestershire will join the youth choir for next year’s festival, in Worcester. Partington will continue to direct the youth choir in order to consolidate the progress made this year. ‘Rather controversially, we are going one step further and taking on an evening concert, performing Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Philharmonia orchestra. We had 40 singers this year but we’ll need around 90 for that. It’s a very exciting but rather daunting prospect, but I think we’ll do it – this lot will be very loyal. In fact at our last rehearsal I made them promise that they will come back next year!’


Call for players: Orchestra in a Weekend at Water City Fest, 1-3 October

6 August 2010

Amateur musicians in East London are being called to form an ‘Orchestra in a Weekend’ on 1-3 October. Organisers are looking for participants of at least 15 years old and Grade 5 standard to become founder members of the Water City Orchestra.

The new orchestra’s first programme will feature Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Lark Ascending’, Borodin’s Symphony No.2 and a medley of Bollywood film music, conducted by Rupert Bond and led by the highly experienced, prizewinning violinist Michael Bochmann.

The orchestra will meet at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London's Docklands for a period of rehearsal before an informal concert at the end of the weekend. It is being formed as part of the Water City Festival, which aims to 'create an international festival in East London with a reputation and longevity comparable to the Edinburgh Festival as part of the long-term legacy of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.'

Application forms are available from Richard Mallett Arts Management, Studio A05A, Newnham Terrace, SE1 7DR, or email

Ticket discount of 25% available for London Music Show, 8-10 October

5 August 2010

Tickets are still available for the London Music Show 2010, to be held at the ExCel centre in Docklands on 8-10 October, with a 25% discount for advance booking.

The show is focused on rock and technology and will be divided into four areas: Guitar Zone; Technology and Sound Recording Zone; Rhythm Live; and the Unplugged Zone, dedicated to acoustic instruments.

It will also feature a dedicated education day for the first time, in conjunction with Music fo Youth, on 8 October, and there will be a special emphasis on visitors trying out the equipment on offer, with each area featuring a number of demonstrations, masterclasses and tutorials throughout the weekend.

  • The Guitar Zone will feature a central demonstration area, where up to 30 guitarists can plug in their leads and try out guitars through headphones.
  • Rhythm Live will feature a set of 20 electronic drum kits, where aspiring players can take part in classes at beginner and intermediate levels.
  • The Technology and Sound Recording Zone will focus on a purpose-built theatre, showcasing presentations, demonstrations and tutorials, with seminar topics including mixing, effects, mastering, digital DJ-ing and 'making it in the industry'.
  • The Unplugged Zone, will feature performances and demonstrations of anything else, ‘from saxophones to bongos’.
  • Music for Youth will run a whole day of live music-making activities on the education day. Two 45-minute concerts will showcase some of the best young musical talent from the London area, including young rock musicians, an urban vocal choir and world music. Vocal and percussion workshops will aim to inspire creativity and imagination in their participants.
A number of well-known musicians will also be playing, including blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, Jim Davies (formerly of the Prodigy), and acoustic guitarist Newton Faulkner, who will deliver masterclasses on his percussive playing technique. Session drummers Karl Brazil and Ash Soan will give masterclasses on 9 October, as will Kasabian drummer Ian Matthews, on 10 October, in addition to two rhythm section pairings will be offering advice: Darren Ashford and Dave Marks on 8 October, and Ian Thomas and Laurence Cottle on 9 October. Meanwhile, songwriter and producer Tommy D and Grammy award-winner Steve Levine will give masterclasses on songwriting and studio production.

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