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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 richard.mallett@btconnect.com

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.


www.londonmusicshow.com

Sound and Music summer school for young composers

30 July 2010

The Sound and Music Summer School will run from 15 to 21 August at the Purcell School, Hertfordshire, to give young people aged 14 to 18 'the chance to create music, broaden their musical horizons and find their own musical voice and style'.

After a successful inaugural year in 2009, 70 young composers have been selected by new music charity Sound and Music and tutors from the Purcell School to take part in this year's activities. They will work individually and in groups on a wide range of styles including classical, jazz, world music and music for the moving image.

Participants will work towards end-of-week concerts at the Purcell school: a jazz concert on Friday 20 August and four concerts showcasing the other compositions spread through the day on Saturday 21 August. Admission for these concerts is free but tickets are limited.

This year's tutors include the experimental vocalist and composer Kerry Andrew; jazz composer, conductor and soxophonist Issie Barratt; composer Alison Cox, who specialises in cross-cultural collaborations; tabla player, composer Bhangra specialist Kuljit Bhamra; specialist composer for the moving image - and the Purcell School's Head of Music Technology - Aidan Goetzee; and composer, pianist,  and past winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year David Horne.

The course fee is £250, with a bursaries fund available for those who may not be able to afford the whole fee.

www.soundandmusic.org/learning/projects/summerschool2010

www.purcell-school.org

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.’

www.bimm.co.uk
www.techmusicschools.co.uk

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.'

REBECCA AGNEW

www.cheltenhamfestivalofperformingarts.co.uk


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