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Music Mark, a major new organisation for music educators, launches

17 March 2013

A new organisation, entitled the UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark, has been launched to support the teaching of music in the UK. The result of a merger of the Federation of Music Services (FMS) and the National Association of Music Educators (NAME), Music Mark is a new charitable, independent organisation that will 'provide a unified voice for those involved in music education'.

According to its official literature, Music Mark will aim to bring together leaders and experts in music education to represent and support music services, instrumental and classroom music teachers, private tutors, consultants, advisers, inspectors and teacher trainers. With a central mission of providing quality music for all, it will set out to champion young peoples’ music-making, support the professional development of music educators and encourage partnership working with the aim of raising standards and improving outcomes for children.

Music Mark was launched with a live performance from a young Oxfordshire-based string quartet and brief speeches from Darren Henley OBE, managing director of Classic FM, and Nigel Taylor, chair of Music Mark and head of Staffordshire Performing Arts. Henley said: The government has made it clear that it wants to engage with a single voice for music education. There are lots of reasons for not joining together, but also lots of reasons to do so. We must have an infrastructure to support music teachers and show them that they are valued.'

Referring to rapid changes in government policy, Taylor commented: 'We've got schools who are bewildered about where music should sit in their consciousness.' He went on to say that Music Mark would argue powerfully for a coherent vision for music in schools.

Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive, said: 'After months of hard work, we’re delighted to launch this new organisation which we hope will support and encourage those involved in music education in providing high-quality music opportunities. This is the first time all those involved with music education have been part of one organisation, and we’re excited about the opportunities this will provide to improve outcomes for all children and young people.'

The conductor Charles Hazlewood has been appointed Music Mark's first patron. He said: 'It is a privilege to be a part of this new organisation which builds upon the illustrious pasts of the FMS and NAME and looks forward with vision, ambition and a huge range of talent and skill among its membership. A great music education is not a luxury for the few, it's a birth right for all. Whether it's an opportunity to play a musical instrument or sing or compose or improvise or play in a band or an orchestra, music is sovereign among all subjects in being able to spark young people's imagination, unleash their creativity, stimulate their social conscience and galvanise their sense of community and belonging.'


Avril Dankworth dies aged 90

12 March 2013

Avril Dankworth, the innovative and inspirational music educator best known for founding the Avril Dankworth Children’s Music Camps – now the National Youth Music Camps – has died aged 90.

Sister to jazz musician John Dankworth, Avril was born in Southend-on-Sea in Essex in 1922 and educated at Walthamstow High School, Hockerill Teacher Training College, the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music. She worked first as a singer and accompanist before teaching in various London schools and colleges and travelling the world lecturing, training teachers and adjudicating. The author of several books, including the bestselling Make Music Fun, she also wrote a history of jazz and was instrumental in introducing the idiom into the school music curriculum.

In 1970, John Dankworth and his wife Cleo Laine bought the Old Rectory in Wavendon, Milton Keynes, with the idea of turning the stable block into a theatre. Avril saw the field at the back of the stables and realised she could fulfil her dream of setting up an annual music children’s music camp. From the start, her camps enabled anyone aged seven to 17 to spend a week under canvas and make music. There was no minimum entry grade, and all instruments and styles of music were welcome – an ethos continued today at the National Youth Music Camps, which still take place at Wavendon Stables.

In 1990 Avril was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to music education. ‘Avril enthusued generations of teachers and students with her fun approach to music education,’ said Sarah Watts, current director of the National Youth Music Camps. ‘The music camps she established have inspired thousands and often changed lives.’


New ABRSM chief executive Leslie East vows to improve infrastructure

7 March 2013

The new chief executive of ABRSM says he will continue the work of his predecessor in improving the organisation’s infrastructure, following last year’s 'major issues' with exams.

Leslie East, ABRSM’s former executive director of syllabus and publishing, was appointed as chief executive following the surprise resignation of Guy Perricone at the end of February. East was formerly director of music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and publishing director of Novello and Co. He has been at ABRSM since 1998.

He says his immediate concerns are to complete already planned investments in infrastructure systems to solve problems with exam correspondence and, working with Lincoln Abbotts, who has been promoted to the newly created post of director of strategic development, to 'look at the wider music education landscape, both in the UK and overseas.'

'ABRSM is about a lot more than exams,' he told MT. 'Over the next two months, we will be looking at, among other things, teacher support and working with the music services who are, of course, our life blood.'

East welcomed Abbotts's appointment to his new role, saying he had wide-ranging experience in music, education and broadcasting. He previously worked at the BBC and was chief executive for Music for Youth.

Staff, meanwhile, say they were 'surprised' by the resignation of Guy Perricone, who was unwell in the autumn but had since returned to work. He joined ABRSM after a career in banking and four years as director of London's Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Colette Bowe, chairman of ABRSM's governing body, said they were 'immensely grateful to Guy for all that he achieved with ABRSM during his leadership'. Perricone had been at ABRSM since 2009 and during his time there turnover increased from £36.5m to £43.6m and candidate numbers from 645,768 to 665,310.


Mayor of London's music fund appeals for more funding

13 February 2013, Rhian Morgan

Boris Johnson’s music education charity is appealing for more individual and corporate philanthropists to help fund its £1m-a-year scheme to increase musical opportunities for hundreds of children and young people in London.

The Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians, which was launched in May 2011, is now working with all 29 of the capital's music education hubs and their local schools and partners. It awards four-year music scholarships to primary-age children with musical potential whose families find it difficult to pay for tuition, in addition to a range of partnership projects.

New projects for 2013-14 include:

  • Barking & Dagenham Community Music Service and Havering Music School, working on composition and music production
  • Enfield Arts Support Service, working with Barnet Music Service, Haringey Music & Performing Arts Service and the world music organisation Musiko Musika to develop an Ethnic Contemporary Classical Orchestra across some of the boroughs’ most deprived areas
  • Greenwich Music Service, Lewisham Music Hub and the Bollywood Brass Band partnership will form cross-borough ensembles to address the shortfall in brass provision
  • Redbridge Music Service, Waltham Forest Music Service and the London Chamber Orchestra will be working to address the gap in providing progression routes for young woodwind players
  • Richmond Music Trust will work in partnership with Hounslow Music Service, the Royal Ballet School and the Philharmonia Orchestra in an integrated music and dance programme, designed to strengthen and develop existing Key Stage 2 and 3 provision and strengthen the links between these two art forms
  • Sutton Music Service will work with Hounslow Music Service, Zone One Brass and the Royal College of Music in the project Brass Tracks for advanced young players

The Fund's chief executive, Ginny Greenwood, said 'it is wonderful that thanks to the very generous support of many individual philanthropists and businesses, we are able to fund such musically diverse project across London. We are also proud to be championing sustainable cross-borough collaborations, which will enhance and strengthen long-term music provision.'


FMS and NAME merge to form Music Mark

11 February 2013

Two of the UK’s best-known music education organisations, the Federation of Music Services (FMS) and the National Association of Music Educators (NAME), are joining forces to create a single body to promote 'a joined-up approach across all sectors of music education'. The new organisation will be launched officially on 19 March and will be known as The UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark.

The FMS represents 165 local authority music services, helping them in their dealings with government, while NAME is a professional body representing all areas of music education. Music Mark plans to continue all this work while providing further opportunities for debate, learning and the sharing of best practice to 'improve standards and achieve high quality in music education'.

Virginia Haworth-Galt, chief executive of the FMS, will lead the new organisation, but details of precisely how the merge will work are yet to be disclosed. The FMS is currently run by a small team of paid staff, while NAME is run largely by volunteers with just one paid employee.

'We have created Music Mark in response to the substantial changes in the world of music education,' said Haworth-Galt. 'The two founder organisations have looked to reimagine and reinvent membership services in this radically changed context for music education. There are challenges for music educators across the UK, but we also recognise that there are new opportunities in the world of music education. Clearly membership benefits are important, but what we are driven by is a desire to work with partners to create a coherent and high-quality offer for all children and young people.'

'We are launching on 19 March, and following the launch event we are really looking forward to our first official outing at the forthcoming Music Education Expo,' she added. 'Then it is straight into an extremely busy few months with a music education symposium, a new publication and a major conference.'


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