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'Learn to Play Day' to take place on 31 March

5 March 2012

Music for All, the charity for the UK musical instrument industry, has announced a National Learn to Play Day on 31 March offering free instrumental lessons at music shops around the country.

Over 60 music shops will participate nationwide, with drummer Ian Paice of Deep Purple making an appearance at Drumwright in Reading, and Whitesnake’s guitarist Doug Aldrich, drummer Brian Tichy and bassist Michael Devin appearing at Sheehan’s in Leicester.

Commenting on the day, Paice said: 'Being given the gift of being able to create music is an incredible thing and most people don’t allow themselves this pleasure. That's a shame. Try it, you could just make your life a whole lot more fun'.

Other events all over the country including a special piano extravaganza by Markson Piano's at Foyle's book store, Charing Cross Road, London.

National Learn to Play Day participants will be able to experience free lessons on a variety of musical instruments, find out about local music teachers, meet staff from the instrument manufacturers and take advantage of many special offers.

Visit www.learntoplayday.com for the latest news and venue details.

Music education organisations respond positively to Ofsted report

5 March 2012

Music education's various organisations have responded positively to Ofsted's latest music report, which many have perceived as critical of the standard of music education in England's schools.

The National Association of Music Teachers (NAME) said: 'NAME welcomes Ofsted's report on music education because it places music firmly at the heart of high quality music education.'

James Garnett, chair of NAME, said: 'This report has wide-ranging implications for the way that music is taught and for the training and development of music teachers. It empowers music teachers by stating unequivocally that music teaching must be musical. Music cannot be taught and assessed in the same way as English or maths if children and young people are to engage with music and make progress in music.

The Incorportated Society of Musicians (ISM), which was praised in the report for its advocacy work, issued the following statement from chief executive Deborah Annetts: 'This is a critical time for music education, with the implementation of a National Plan, and this clear signal from Ofsted of how music education needs to improve is welcome. All music educators and headteachers must work together to ensure that the use of technology in music is encouraged, and the striking inequalities in provision – particularly by gender – are tackled. The real message here is for headteachers and music educators to engage with the ISM and other bodies to ensure that their staff are able, and confident enough, to teach music to the highest standard.'

The Federation of Music Services (FMS) also welcomed the report, which it saw as stressing 'a need for better partnership working between music services and schools for more music-making in classrooms, better integration between outside initiatives such as whole-class teaching programmes and continuing class music, and for planning for pupils' musical progression.'

Maureen Hanke, chair of the FMS, added: 'The strength of successful hubs will be their ability to work together to embrace the recommendations of the report - especially making music musical, reducing the gender gap and challenging poor quality.'

Read the full story on the report here.

Gloucestershire Music teachers threatened with redundancy

2 March 2012

There are fears that dozens of peripatetic music teachers could lose their jobs after Gloucestershire County Council launched a restructuring consultation in preparation for the National Plan for Music Education’s development of local hubs in the autumn.

Around 200 staff, including teachers and administrators, are involved in the consultation which began at the end of February. All staff have been invited to apply for posts in the new structure or to apply for voluntary redundancy. The new structure will be in place from September 2012 so any redundancies are likely to be made in the summer.

The council is proposing to stop providing individual and small-group tuition and plans to 'maintain and develop all other current services with a range of partners' as the basis of its music hub bid.

The new hubs will have to ensure that every child, aged five to 18, has the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument, as well as perform as part of an ensemble or choir. There will be more group teaching and it is believed that peris without classroom experience may not fit in the new style of teaching.

Gloucestershire Music, the county council’s music service, currently provides tuition to more than 10,000 pupils in schools and to around 1,000 pupils through music centres, orchestras and bands. If the council’s bid is successful, the new hub would develop from this service.

Cllr Jackie Hall, cabinet member for education and skills, said: 'The idea behind these new music hubs is that all children will have opportunities to learn a musical instrument and sing, not just those who can afford individual lessons.'

Jo Grills, operations director for education, learning and libraries, said: 'The way the government provides funding for music education is changing. The new music hubs will need to meet new priorities set out by government to continue to secure this funding.

'This means that while more children will benefit from whole-class tuition and other opportunities to make music, the county council will no longer be able to provide tutors for individual and small-group music lessons from September 2012.

'Staff will be employed by the music hub to meet the new priorities and while there will be some job losses, mainly of part-time tutors, demand from schools for their services will continue to be high. The county council will support tutors undertaking individual tuition to make new arrangements directly with schools or parents.'

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), told MT: 'The ISM is concerned that music services are making redundancies at this critical time when they should be concentrating on delivering a quality music education along the lines envisaged by Ofsted.

'It bodes ill for the National Plan for Music Education and the government’s aspirations for music education if, as a result of the introduction of hubs, we are losing highly experienced music teachers who could meet Ofsted’s challenge for greater musicality, access and diversity.'

An executive member of the Federation of Music Services said that councils had to deal with a cut in funding in the past two years and could expect further cuts in the next two years.

'There has been a reduction in income so we can expect a reduction in staffing, but I don't expect there to be a reduction in one-to-one teaching as a result of the introduction of hubs.

'Children in urban areas are generally not going to have a problem finding a teacher but in rural areas a lack of provision from the music services could make it difficult for some students to find a teacher.'

ABRSM becomes major sponsor of Music for Youth

1 March 2012

ABRSM has announced a new partnership with Music for Youth (MfY), the music education charity which provides free access to performance and audience opportunities for young musicians across the UK. ABRSM will become one of six sponsors supporting MFY.

ABRSM’s sponsorship will support the ongoing promotion and expansion of MfY’s Regional Festival Series, the world’s largest youth music festival which began in February and continues until April, and involves over 50,000 musicians and singers.

'Music for Youth and ABRSM have been working together since 1995 to support young musicians across the UK,' said Lincoln Abbotts, MfY's chief executive. 'This is a significant development for our longstanding relationship and we see huge potential with this new sponsorship agreement.' Abbotts will be leaving MfY to work for ABRSM later this year.

This year ABRSM’s support will help fund around 70 festivals in over 50 different venues throughout the UK from Truro to Inverness. The festivals will be attended by musicians of all levels, from school choirs to punk bands, duos to county youth orchestras. Some of the performers will have had experience of performing in large venues while others may be performing for the very first time.

'We’re extremely proud to be one of Music for Youth’s key sponsors this year, and in particular to give our support to the Regional Festivals,' said Guy Perricone, chief executive of ABRSM. 'We want to inspire as many people as we can to participate and progress in music. Giving young musicians the opportunity to perform live and receive feedback from the mentors at MFY is something we applaud loudly.'

Purcell School celebrates 50th birthday with Festival Hall concert

1 March 2012

The Purcell School is to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 19 March at 7.30pm.

Works will include Holst's The Planets, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and a new concertante work by Joseph Phibbs, all conducted by  Paul Daniel. The concert will feature a line-up of alumni soloists from the school, including Robert Cohen, cello, Nicholas Daniel, oboe, Jack Liebeck, violin, Catrin Finch harp, Tim Thorpe, horn and Jianing Kong, piano, accompanied by current students Purcell School Symphony Orchestra.

The school, the first specialist music school of its kind, was founded in 1962 by Rosemary Rapaport and Irene Foster. There are currently 180 musicians at its present site, in Bushey, Hertfordshire. It takes both boarders and day pupils and accepts students by audition, based on talent, regardless of background and experience. The school remains predominantly funded by the government's Music and Dance Scheme but also has its own scholarship fund.

The school’s President, Sir Simon Rattle CBE, said he is 'blown away by the commitment, skill and infectious energy of the remarkable young musicians. The school is a vibrant place where creativity and discipline go hand in hand, providing specialist training for musicians of the future, alongside an excellent general education. It gives me great hope for the future of the music profession when I hear what these young people are capable of. I send my very best wishes to the school for its 50th Birthday!'

Tickets for the concert are priced at £40, £20 and £10 and are available by calling 0844 847 9910 or by visiting www.southbankcentre.co.uk. VIP packages are available by calling 01923 331131 or by emailing e.mcgrath@purcell-school.org.

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