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Latest News

ISM Campaign Gains Momentum

15 July 2013

Last month the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) called on the government to commit itself to funding music education hubs into the future. The National Plan for Music Education in England promises to support the network of 123 hubs until 2015, but there are no further financial commitments in place.

Since the ISM launched its Protect Music Education campaign (as reported in the July issue of Music Teacher), it has gained close to 1,000 signatories. In addition to backing from Tasmin Little OBE and Julian Lloyd Webber, the campaign has also gained the support of 12 high-profile music organisations - including the Schools Music Association, Musicians Benevolent Fund and Music Education Council. 

To support the ISM's campaign, which is hoping to secure commitment from all major political parties, click here.

Pamela Cook Passes Away

12 July 2013

The choral and musical world was saddened to learn of the death of Pamela Cook in the early hours of this morning, after suffering a stroke last week.

Pamela was held in high regard as an international authority on vocal and choral techniques. Her successful teaching career included positions in universities and music conservatoires across the country, with many of her students currently holding soloist positions in prestigious British and European opera houses.

In 1968, Pamela founded girls’ choir Cantamus. Initially a by-product of her work as head of vocal studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, within three years Cantamus won its first major international prize. Today the choir is made up of 43 teenage girls and is known as one of the most dynamic young choirs in the country. Pamela remained director of the choir until her death.

Pamela’s inspiration was drawn from her pure love of the human voice. ‘It’s a constant source of joy and amazement to me that the human voice can be beautiful, warm, tender, dramatic, exciting, sensual and vibrant – and this possibility is available to everyone who sings,’ she said. ‘What a power-house the conductor has at her finger-tips!’

In 1984, Pamela was appointed MBE. Her work as a teacher and adjudicator took her all over the world, where she has sat on panels of international vocal competitions, delivered lectures in vocal physiology, and coached choirs. Her passion, energy and complete dedication will no doubt be missed – but her legacy lives on in the thousands of singers she inspired during her lifetime.

New National Curriculum: first look

8 July 2013, Alex Stevens

The Department for Education today released details of the proposed new national curriculum, expected to come into effect in September 2014, with music a statutory requirement up to Key Stage 3 (up to age 14).

The structure for music is subtly different from that proposed at the beginning of a consultation process launched in February, adding references to improvisation and music technology.

The consultation officially closes on 8 August but today’s document is a good representation of what teachers in maintained schools will be working to from 2014.

It says that the purpose of studying music is to ‘engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement,’ so that pupils eventually develop ‘a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon’.

The work of great musicians has been added to that of ‘great composers’ as a central pillar of the programme, aiming to ensure that all pupils ‘perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions’.

Pupils should ‘learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence’.

Musical creation is addressed, with improvisation now added to composition as a skill which should be taught at age 7 to 14 (KS2&KS3).

Pupils should be taught both staff and other types of notation in KS2 and KS3, raising the possibility that from 2021, all 14-year-olds could be music readers.

Michael Gove called it ‘a tougher, more rigorous national curriculum’ and placed children’s education in the context of a competitive global economy. ‘It will raise standards across the board and allow our children to compete in the global race,’ he said.

David Cameron said: ‘As a parent this is exactly the kind of thing I want my children to be learning. And as prime minister I know this revolution in education is critical for Britain’s prosperity in the decades to come.’

The outlined plans for music can be read here, from page 217.

Government confirms £272 million spend to 2015 on cultural education

8 July 2013

The Department for Education has formally set down the range of government-backed cultural education opportunities that are open to all young people in England. The document, named Cultural Education, has been compiled in response to Darren Henley’s review of cultural education, published in February last year, which called for young people to have greater access to a variety of cultural experiences. 

The headline statistic is that the government is spending £272 million to 2015 on cultural education. 

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: 'I hope that this inspires schools and cultural organisations to work more closely together, to find new and exciting ways to engage children in cultural activities.'

The publication comes shortly after the Incorporated Society of Musicians called for the government to commit itself to dedicated funding beyond 2015. 

Amongst the initiatives listed are:

MUSIC EDUCATION HUBS - £171m was pledged to the 123 music education hubs across the country. These hubs offer all school-age children the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and perform as part of an ensemble.

IN HARMONY - The DofE is also committed to supporting the UK branch of El Sistema, which aims to use music as a tool for building communities and improving children's life chances.

NATIONAL YOUTH MUSIC ORGANISATIONS (NYMOs) - These national ensembles for the country's most talented young musicians are jointly funded by Arts Council England and the DofE.

THE MUSIC AND DANCE SCHEME - Over the next year the government will be providing £28.1m to subsidise specialist music and dance schools for exceptionally talented young artists. The scheme currently benefits 2,200 pupils in five music schools and four dance schools across the country.

The document can be viewed in full here.

Free Online Videos For Guitar Diploma Candidates

4 July 2013

The Registry of Guitar Tutors (RGT) is working on a series of free-to-view videos, which will provide support for diploma candidates and teachers. The first video in this series is now available to view online.

Each video is presented by the RGT's chief examiner, Merv Young. Once the 15-minute video is over, there is an option to chat with the presenter online. 

The initial video looks in detail at the rhythmic improvisation techniques required for the DipLCM Electric Guitar Performance Diploma. Future videos in the series will focus on other aspects of the exam, as well as exploring elements of the RGT teaching diplomas. 

RGT Director Tony Skinner says: 'These videos are a great way of developing the playing and teaching skills of both experienced guitar teachers and those who are new to teaching. They enable guitarists from any country to have direct access to helpful playing and teaching tips.'

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