Shake It Up! Awards Ceremony 20199:16, 30th July 2019
A few months ago, I had the privilege of sitting on the judging panel for the Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML) Shake It Up competition. The SPML is provided by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) on behalf of Printed Music Licensing Limited and exists to make sure that schools can make copies and arrangements of printed sheet music. The competition is a chance to celebrate the brilliant work that teachers are doing with their sheet music, arranging it around limited classroom supplies or eclectic ensembles.
The panel consisted of figures from across the industry and we had been sent the shortlisted applications in advance, which consisted of the sheet music and a recording of the arrangement, as well as a form which detailed the circumstances that the arrangement was made in. The judging process was tough but enjoyable, allowing all of us in the room to reflect on what music education meant to us and how these arrangements were serving the needs of young musicians. Eventually, we were able to decide upon a winner, who would receive £700 for their school, and the two runners-up, whose schools would be given £400 each. The decision made, we went our separate ways until the award ceremony a few weeks later.
We reconvened on 2 July on the top floor of London’s City Hall, where we were joined by the finalists and their supporters, along with an assortment of others who were keen to support music education. It was a great opportunity to meet people working in all aspects of music education, including schoolteachers, hub leaders, professional performers, and instrument suppliers. Once everyone had suitably mingled and enjoyed the refreshments, we were asked to be seated. Following on from some introductory notes, Lord Black of Brentwood was invited up on stage to deliver a speech about the importance of music education and the broad role that music plays in improving the UK, culturally, socially, and economically. Guy Black is the current chair of the Royal College of Music and a champion of music education both in and out of Parliament – it is for this reason that I invited him to deliver a keynote speech at this year’s Music & Drama Education Expo, where he also took the opportunity to speak to teachers and learn about their experiences.
Following on from Lord Black, we heard from Alex Wilson who was also one of this year’s judges. Wilson is a professional arranger so the competition’s focus was something that was close to his heart. He regaled us with lovely stories about how much the business of arranging has transformed throughout his career, from early days seeking out the right sort of paper and ink to now being able to do it all by computer. He conveyed just how important arranging was to the music industry and urged us to support arrangers in their struggle to be properly credited and compensated for their work.
After these powerful speeches, we heard a brief sample of each entry, followed by the judge’s comments on each piece, which were read out by Sarah Brear, CLA’s development manager for education. Finally, the time came for the all-important announcements to be made. First, it was revealed that the two runners up were Shirley Magill of Albyn School with her bombastic arrangement of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, and Ian Raisbeck of Sandbach School who had arranged the Gershwin song ‘Summertime’ for a wind orchestra. This year’s winner was Frazer Hinchley, who transformed Status Quo’s classic ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ by arranging it to be played on glockenspiels by his primary school students – the result was a very earnest and enjoyable rendition that was used to teach the children about basic harmonies, reading notation, and playing to a tempo.
When the result was announced, Hinchley was clearly moved by his victory – having been a runner-up the previous year, it had been obvious to the judging panel that he had gone away and reflected on the feedback he had been given.
Asked about his achievement, he said: ‘It was a real privilege to be shortlisted for the second year running and to win the competition was a dream come true for our school. The children worked so hard and really enjoyed the process of learning how arrangements work and furthering their musical skills. When I came back to school the next day and announced the news, school staff and children alike were over the moon.’
For me, the biggest take away of the competition was that no two entries were the same. There was a wide range of source materials, from Hollywood musicals to classical staples, and the responses to them brought in influences from jazz, dubstep, as well as contemporary classical techniques. I would heartily recommend the competition to any music educator, especially if you’re already making arrangements anyway! If you’re unsure about arranging and feel you need a few pointers to get started, then look out for the October issue of Music Teacher magazine. I’ve asked Hinchley to write a feature for the issue where he will take you through his process.
If you’re interested in applying for the next competition, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out when the submission window opens.