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Latest News

Christmas Revision for GCSE Students

26 November 2013

Private tutor agency Tutor House is offering a selection of revision workshops for GCSE and IGCSE students that will run in London over the Christmas holidays. All subjects will be covered.

Alex Dyer, director of Tutor House, has designed revision courses that are appropriate for SEN students as well, with one-to-one sessions being offered alongside group classes. The workshops will run over a five-day period, and students can decide whether to sign up for entire subjects or just focus on the modules they find the most challenging.

Workshops cost £150 per day. For more information, visit the Tutor House website or call 020 7381 6253.

RCS Scoops £225K Leverhulme Arts Scholarship Award

25 November 2013

A new conducting programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) has received a significant funding award from the Leverhulme Trust. 

Over the next three years the Trust is providing £90,000 to support two conducting Fellows, who will work with Timothy Dean (head of opera at the RCS) and conductor Garry Walker. The chosen Fellows will also have the opportunity to assist Donald Runnicles at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Jean Cater, assistant director at the Leverhulme Trust, said: 'The Leverhulme Trust has a long tradition of supporting the development of exceptionally talented individuals in the arts and we are delighted to be continuing that tradition in funding the Conducting Fellowships programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.'

The £90K conducting award is part of a £225,000 Leverhulme Arts Scholarship Award that will also support Innovative Teaching projects and provide scholarships for three individuals on the BA Modern Ballet course. 

As part of the Innovative Teaching Award the RCS's contemporary ensemble in residence, Red Note, will be contracted to lead weekly mentoring sessions that will guide students towards performances. This will benefit a large number of Masters in Performance students who will join Red Note in side-by-side sessions, as well as enabling 40 student composers to have their works performed. The Leverhulme conducting fellows will lead these performances.

Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards 2013

21 November 2013

From left to right: Jamie Crick (Classic FM presenter), Sam Mendes, Damian Lewis, Claire Hennie (winner of Private Music Teacher of the Year Award), Matthew Tiffany (winner of the Peripatetic Music Teacher of the Year Award), Lord David Puttnam.
From left to right: Jamie Crick (Classic FM presenter), Sam Mendes, Damian Lewis, Claire Hennie (winner of Private Music Teacher of the Year Award), Matthew Tiffany (winner of the Peripatetic Music Teacher of the Year Award), Lord David Puttnam.

Seven UK music teachers across the UK have received honours at the fifteenth annual Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards. The presentations were made across three nights at the Music for Youth’s Schools Prom concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, in front of a live audience of thousands. 

Amongst the panel of judges was Music Teacher editor Thomas Lydon. The judges were looking for primary, secondary, peripatetic and private music teachers, as well as those who work with SEN children, who have made a real difference to the musical lives of young people. The awards were presented by a number of high-profile guests, including film producer Lord David Puttnam, Homeland star Damian Lewis and Skyfall director Sam Mendes. The winning teachers will each receive musical equipment and instruments from Yamaha and software from Avid. Prizes from the Musicians’ Union will also be awarded to the winners of the Private and Peripatetic music teacher categories.

Classic FM’s Managing Director Darren Henley said: ‘Every single day, inspirational music teachers change the lives of thousands of young people across the country, helping to develop Britain's next generation of brilliant musical talent. We're proud that our awards celebrate the outstanding work of the UK's very best music teachers inside and outside the classroom.’

After a particularly strong round of entries, the judges decided to award this year’s Primary School Music Teacher of the Year jointly to Kate Smart (Corpus Christi School, Lambeth) and Siobhan Martin (Holy Cross Boys’ Primary, Belfast). Secondary School Teacher of the Year went to Rebecca Lewis (Parkside Federation Academies, Cambridgeshire), and Matthew Tiffany (North Leeds Music Centre) was awarded the Peripatetic Music Teacher of the Year. Shropshire flute teacher Claire Hennie was named Private Music Teacher of the Year, and the Special Education Needs Music Teacher of the Year was awarded to Jocelyn Watkins (Treloar School, Hampshire).

The prestigious Lifetime Achievements award went to Peter Bridle (King Edward’s School, Birmingham), in recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to music education over the last 46 years. 

Ofsted: Hubs ‘have done little to improve’ music education

15 November 2013, Alex Stevens

Ofsted: Damning report on hubs' first year
Ofsted: Damning report on hubs' first year

Music education hubs have done little to improve the range in quality of music education across England, says a report released by Ofsted today which urges hub leaders to act more as ‘champions, leaders and expert partners’.

It also says that Arts Council England, the awarding body of hub contracts, ‘is not yet able to gauge the quality of hubs’ work’.

The report is based on visits to 31 schools, and 'detailed discussions with their associated hubs', by Ofsted inspectors between February and July 2013, within the hubs’ first year.

Good quality music education still ‘reaches only a minority of pupils’, although where they were working well, hubs have ‘often brought new energy, collaborative approaches and vitality to working musically with young people’.

‘Many of the hubs visited, especially in large county areas, were failing to reach out to all eligible schools, despite receiving funding to do so.’

Poor quality music provision often occurs through unspecialised teachers being unable to challenge pupils appropriately. ‘26 of the 31 schools visited, including all of the primary schools, shied away from teaching pupils about fundamental aspects of music … at an appropriately challenging level, or at all. Typically, the schools were not sure enough how to teach these aspects and thought them too difficult for pupils.’

Overall, Ofsted’s clear message is that quality without reach is not acceptable – and that even where hubs have found it hard to work with schools they must still live up to their responsibilities.

‘In some schools, hubs found it hard to get noticed, especially by senior leaders, and gave up too easily.’

Ofsted has published three interviews alongside the report (see 'More like this, left), with HMI Robin Hammerton talking to Susan Robertson of Tees Valley music hub, Peter Bolton of Kent Music and Richard Jones, leader of the South Gloucestershire music hub. These focus on developing hubs’ relationships with schools, particularly highlighting where they have found success in ‘having a challenging conversation’.

‘It’s about making sure the schools are on the right track, really, with their music,’ says HMI Hammerton in one. ‘Yes, definitely,’ replies Robertson.

Speaking at the Music Mark Conference on 15 November, Hammerton reportedly offered ‘to intervene directly in schools’ which wouldn’t establish a relationship with their local music hub.

The report also recommends that Arts Council England ‘take rapid action to improve the reporting and accountability framework for music hubs, ensuring that it contains evaluation of the quality of the work of the hubs in schools; this should include the evaluative examination of hubs’ work’.

John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said: ‘The completely unrealistic timeframe which was imposed on music services to recreate themselves as music education hubs last year compounded by cuts within local authorities alongside the statutory grant has made it impossible for hubs to fulfil the aspirations of the National Music Plan.

‘Although the National Music Plan itself was promising, unless the Government is prepared to do more to implement it across the country then musical opportunities for young people will continue to be a postcode lottery.’

The MU's Dianne Widdison told MT: 'Too much has been asked of the Hubs in too little time and because of cuts in the central grant, as well as many having to contend with local cuts, they have been charged with trying to address far wider issues with vastly reduced resources.

'It seems bizarre for the report to criticise music in schools when the government has continually undermined the importance of creative subjects in education. If the aspirations of the National Music Plan are to be realised it is imperative that all schools are charged with engaging with their Hubs and the value of music education is recognised.'

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘In passing the responsibility [of music education] on to music hubs, the government is now denying them the level of funding to be able to provide what is expected of them.

‘There needs to be a far more co-ordinated approach to music teaching in schools as well as the time ‘in the curriculum and a proper status given to music lessons.’

A department for Education spokesman told the BBC: ‘Ofsted’s findings are based on just a quarter of the 123 hubs, which were assessed only a few months after opening. But Ofsted is clear that when hubs are properly run, they are already making a real difference. We are working with Arts Council England to ensure music hubs benefit all children.’

An Arts Council England spokeswoman told the Evening Standard: ‘The Arts Council is already addressing the specific recommendations directed towards it in the report which are around our responsibility to set up and monitor hubs.’

Yamaha invites you to join the Silent Revolution!

8 November 2013

Yamaha is joining together with four UK piano dealers to present the 'Silent Revolution' this month. 

Between 12-16 November, Yamaha's leading international project specialist Bert Smorenburg will be showcasing the new SH Silent Series Pianos at four different locations across the country. This is a free opportunity for pianists and educational establishments to try a selection of Silent Series pianos for themselves, from entry level uprights to grand piano models. 

Those visiting the tour locations will also be able to take advantage of Yamaha's Upgrade Bonus scheme, which guarantees part-exchange prices on current acoustic or digital pianos. Yamaha's Leanne Barrell says: 'We hope as many pianists of all standards and ages will come along to these entertaining and informative shows. For anyone who has ever wondered what a silent piano is and what it can do for your piano playing, the ‘Silent Revolution’ tour offers the perfect introduction!'

The tour will be visiting Cambridge on 12 November, Oxfordshire on 13 November, London on 14 November, and Manchester on 15-16 November. For more details visit the Yamaha website.

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