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july 2010 / digital issue 19

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Sistema Scotand Big Noise, Sistema Scotland’s children’s orchestra programme modelled on Venezuela’s El Sistema, celebrated its second birthday on 6 June 2010. Cathy Tozer reports on the programme and talks to Nicola Killean, Director of Sistema Scotland


Belfast Dreams

Douglas Adamson and Cathy Tozer report on this year’s post-election Federation of Music Services Annual Conference p5

Fighting talk Deborah Annetts’ keynote address from musiclearninglive!2010 pulls no punches p12

Sounding Board

‘If a government wants to change lives through music, they need to raise its profile as a subject at Primary level’. Class teacher Janice Hadwin’s music education manifesto p17

A Day in the Life of...

Lawrence Reed, MA Composition Student at Bath Spa University p19

Public-Private Partnership

Nicholas Wilks reports on a Vivaldi performance project in Hampshire schools p22

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web & mobile


july 2010 / digital issue 19

zone Editor Cathy Tozer Contributors Douglas Adamson Deborah Annetts

Review: Recorder Rebels p25

Janice Hadwin Nicola Killean Nicholas Wilks Reviewers Brian Cotterill Cathy Tozer

Review: Musical Trixstar p26

Publisher Ian Clethero

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The Federation of Music Services’ Annual Conference – entitled ‘On the Threshold of a Dream’ – took place in Belfast in June. Douglas Adamson reports on the sell-out event which surprised many with its upbeat tempo and the positive attitude prevailing despite the uncertain financial climate.


pirits were raised when, just a few days prior to the conference, the Government announced that there were going to be no changes to the Standards Fund Grant (now known as the Music Grant) until 2011. This has provided some breathing space for the FMS Executive and their advisers to consider new business models, possible revised structures and resource-sharing with other music education bodies.

On Wednesday evening, 16 June, arriving at the FMS conference, delegates were greeted by twentyfive school children playing African drums in Lagan Square outside Belfast’s Hilton Hotel. Directed by the inspirational Nicky Sutch, Head of Percussion at the Belfast City Music School, the children wowed the audience with both African and Samba drumming. BBC Ulster’s nightly ‘Arts Extra’ programme did a live link and interviewed Nicky and John Witchell, FMS Chief Executive. On Thursday, delegates were treated to another musical extravaganza with a cross-province schools group called ‘Celtic Fusion’ who melded djembes, Irish Bodhran and Irish-Scots Lambeg drums with instruments including violin, tin whistle, pipes, concertina and keyboard. The group was accompanied by girl dancers performing traditional jigs, reels and hornpipes. The conference title perhaps raised some eyebrows – as many were thinking that the dream might turn into a nightmare – but John Witchell sought to dispel these doom-mongers, explaining that the FMS membership had ‘been here before’ and that they must see the changes ahead as opportunities to strengthen the FMS’s position as the leading

Belfast Dreams zone magazine digital edition 19 / july 2010 © zone new media 2010 /


‘Do before you get done to.’

provider of music education in our schools. ‘Our expertise, quality of delivery and depth of resource are unmatchable by any other organisation, the FMS must play to its strengths. Music Services are resilient and determined, flexible and responsive and must take up the baton of leading and managing change.’ Keynote speakers captured the mood of driving change through taking personal control. Inspirational speaker Roy Leighton was the conference favourite with his message on planning for the next three months not for many years ahead. His personal anecdotes of his rise to fame and fortune from a large, impoverished family were testament to the power of self-belief and determination to succeed. Sir Tim Brighouse, the retired Chief Adviser for London Schools, gave, as always, an intelligent, iconoclastic and witty address advising Service heads to ‘set the weather’, urging them to invest in professional development at all


levels and determine the ‘musical turn-ons of the leading people in your local authority’. He also stressed the need for ‘going flat out with relationships, taking a positive attitude and sharing knowledge’. Above all, he stated that: ‘You should think for yourself and act for all.’ He also stressed the interdependency that music education provides and that this was the profound element that makes music so special in the development and education of children. Success for just some was not an option and he called for the FMS to consider individual membership of the organisation. There were two discussion groups. Mark Phillips, the Ofsted National Adviser for Music, did not mince his words in the Thursday session, ‘Priorities for the Future’, when he called for more honesty about ‘the too many Primary schools where the provision of music and singing was still not good enough… we need to close the gap between high-performing and low-performing schools’. He also thought that the

Wider Opportunities programme was not long enough. Marc Jaffrey urged delegates to ‘tell their stories about their Music Services’ successes and to step up the dialogue with parents, schools and local authorities… don’t be tribal on pay and conditions… and learn to become cherished’. In the same session, Deborah Annetts of ISM and Christina Coker of Youth Music talked about working together. ‘You are not a homogenous group’ said Christina and Deborah reminded the audience that ‘91% of the public support music lessons in schools’. Christina believed that real change would only come from radical thinking and that the FMS’s strategy was not yet clear. ‘Do before you get done to’ was her prophetic statement. On Friday, 18 Junethere was a panel presentation of Music Service heads followed by discussion groups where delegates were asked to list their priorities for Music Services, picking one single point to feed back to the audience. Interestingly,

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there was little consensus amongst the ten separate breakout sessions: • Determine what we can deliver and NOT deliver • Make KS3 music teaching a priority • Enable more disadvantaged children to access music • More clarity on the Music Service offer • Speak and sing out MS successes nationally • Develop better relationships with teachers, parents and governors • Revisit pay and conditions (examine the Scottish model) • More staff development to enable better relationship building • Strengthen collaborations between Services in the regions • FMS to work more closely with government to gain MS statutory powers as the commissioning agent for music education All the workshops were well attended and covered subjects as diverse as Taiko drumming, new business modelling, Music and SEN, Music Camps in the Derbyshire Dales and more. Perhaps the most popular was the new business modelling but this also came in for some criticism as the work being done by consultants Ernst and Young (who facilitated the workshop) was still very much at the ‘work in progress’ stage. However, valuable pointers were given in challenging Music Services to examine their fixed costs and look at ways these could be changed in the light of budget cuts. Productivity and determining Music Service income streams and where profit lay also came under scrutiny. On Thursday evening, delegates were invited to a drinks reception held in Belfast’s magnificent City Hall, an awesome Victorian building clad in marble and carved oak. Donal Doherty, Head of Music at Western Education and Library Board, conducted the Derry Civic Choirs in a truly remarkable performance of hymns and Irish love songs, concluding with a moving rendition of ‘Danny Boy’. John Witchell, on thanking Donal and the choirs, said that they had taken to the audience ‘to paradise and back’. This was no exaggeration!

This year’s FMS conference was a feast for the ears. From the drummers who welcomed arriving delegates to the choir who serenaded them at Belfast’s City Hall, from the school band who played for the after-dinner ceilidh to the harpists who made next morning’s early start that little bit sweeter, the standard was so high and the delivery so impassioned that many were left with memories that will last a lifetime. But the jewel in the crown was undoubtedly ‘Celtic Fusion’, a cross-cultural project and performance that received a heartfelt ovation. ‘Celtic Fusion’ was the brainchild of conference organiser and host, Donal Doherty, who described it as ‘a musical representation of the pluralist society that Northern Ireland has become’. It took weeks of hard work to put together the 20-minute performance involving students from: • • • • •

Banbridge Academy, Banbridge, County Down Our Lady’s Grammar School, Newry, County Down Saint Cecilia’s College, Derry Southern Education and Library Board Western Education and Library Board

Teachers, tutors and pupils all pulled together to devise, rehearse and perform this fusion of traditional Irish music, dance and African drumming. The traditional tunes were provided by Cherry Mcdonald of Banbridge Academy (bagpipes) and ‘Our Lady’s Traditional Music Group’ (Irish flute, whistle, concertina, banjo, keyboard and fiddles). Three students from Saint Cecilia’s performed traditional Irish dances while others joined SELB and WELB workshop participants to play djembes, bodhrans, Lambeg drums and percussion.

tunes – a jig, an air and a reel – and sending CD copies to the other participants. Dancing teacher Christa Darrall then worked with St. Cecilia’s dancers to devise a dance sequence while Music Service tutors Austin Gallagher (SELB) and Ronan McKee (WELB) created the arrangements by the simple process of jamming with the drummers. Thus, the jig was underpinned by powerful AfroCeltic beats, the air provided a slower, quieter central section and an unaccompanied drum groove led into the final lively reel. The whole thing came together in a three-hour rehearsal a couple of days before the conference. I talked to the participants before and after the performance and their pride in being part of ‘Celtic Fusion’ was evident from their smiles and excited chatter. 16-year-old Matthew Donnelly who has been playing with SELB for five years said, ‘It was interesting learning the drum beats and listening to the traditional Irish music’. He thought the performance was ‘the most enjoyable part’ while Martha Guiney and Mairead Savage (both 16) called it ‘outstanding’. Mairead also ‘enjoyed the two different cultures of music’ and thought the project was ‘a unique experience’. Donal Doherty clearly shared the students’ pride in their performance, calling it ‘the perfect way to show the combination of cultures and the fusion of all that with dancers and African drums’. As the youngsters and their teachers hurried off to catch their coaches while conference delegates made ready to listen to the first keynote speaker of the day, Head of Music at St Cecilia’s, Fiona Logue, captured the mood of the moment in her parting words: ‘It was wonderful for the girls from St. Cecilia’s to have the experience of working with pupils from other schools and traditions. You just can’t bottle that!’

How was it put together? I spoke to Our Lady’s Head of Music, Rosie Smyth, who told me it was surprisingly easy, a question of choosing three

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Cathy Tozer


Photographs: Marc Marnie


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Big Noise in Scotland... Sistema Scotland two years on Big Noise, Sistema Scotland’s children’s orchestra programme modelled on Venezuela’s El Sistema, celebrated its second birthday in June. Cathy Tozer report on the programme and talks to Sistema Scotland Director, Nicola Killean


or a programme that was only conceived of in 2006 and launched in 2008, Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise has come a long way in a short time. In an article in, Keith Bruce called it ‘a strapping two-year-old’ and certainly anyone attending the birthday concert at Stirling Albert Halls or watching video footage of the orchestra on Big Noise’s Facebook page couldn’t fail to be impressed by the sheer scale of what Sistema Scotland has taken on and achieved.

For those who don’t know, El Sistema was established in 1975 by economist and pianist José Antonio Abreu as a means of engaging Venezuela’s many impoverished children and young people in a community music-making project with a difference. The children were immersed in an orchestra from Day One, learning about music and instrument-playing with their peers and growing, along the way, into players of great skill and sensitivity. The project had, and continues to have, an incredibly positive effect on thousands of young people, focusing their energy on something creative and beautiful – orchestral music-making – and giving them a musical education and a place to be away from the streets. The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, which is at the apex of the nation’s system of 220 youth orchestras, has built up a reputation as one of the most exciting ensembles in the world and has been touring internationally to great acclaim for many years. In the UK, Sistema projects are up and running in London, Liverpool, Norwich and, of course, Scotland where Sistema Scotland launched Big Noise – the UK’s first Sistema orchestra – two years ago. Big Noise is located on the Raploch Estate in Stirling, ‘one of the most deprived places in Britain’ according to Guardian reporter, Charlotte Higgins whose January 2009 article, ‘Now for a samba’, charts Big Noise’s first few months. In 2004, Raploch was targetted by the

Scottish Executive as being in need of regeneration and £120m earmarked for the area. Problems are complex – a mixture of poverty, unemployment, poor health and housing, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse – but

Home For Tea’. Big Noise’s team of musicians set up a Summer School and After-School Club as well as working in local Primary schools, Raploch, Our Lady’s and Castleview, with children from Nursery to Primary 3 (9 months to 8 years). The Big Picture – Summer 2009Summer 2010 is currently in production but won’t be published until September 2010 so as to include Big Noise’s first cohort of woodwind, brass and percussion teachers. These were recruited at the end of the second year and – after a two-week visit to Venezuela – are currently designing and implementing the next strand of the Sistema model which is the expansion from strings programme to full symphony orchestra. In the meantime, according to Director of Sistema Scotland, Nicola Killean:

the community of 5,000 or so inhabitants has responded enthusiastically to Big Noise’s arrival and, aside from the children’s involvement, there is now an adult orchestra that meets once a week. So what have the last two years been like? It’s difficult to tell from Big Noise’s website which doesn’t appear to have been updated recently. There’s lots about the first year in a document entitled The Big Picture – Summer 2008-Summer 2009 which tells the story of the project from the first day the children were given instruments to their First Birthday concert, also at Stirling Albert Halls. Along the way, children launched Big Noise with a concert in a huge tent on the Raploch Community Campus (a newly built complex of schools and facilities which acts as a hub for residents), recorded their own mobile ringtone with help from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and were invited to ‘Take A Musician

‘The second year has gone fantastically well and the children are developing beautifully. Last year when we had our transition from the Primary 1s who were going to join the After-School Orchestra, we got over 70% children who started and retained for the whole year which is brilliant.’ The programme is designed to grow each year with the children. Thus, the oldest children at the end of Big Noise’s first year (Primary 3s) carried on into the second year as Primary 4s. At the start of the third year, they are now Primary 5s. According to Nicola Killean: ‘Next year, the age limit is going to increase a bit more because we’re offering these new instruments. So from next year onwards, it’s going to be from birth to 11-12 years and then it’s going to continue to grow as the children grow.’ She hopes that in five to eight years time they’ll have children coming back teaching the other children and explains that already older children are acting as buddies for younger ones:

01 / mar 2010© ©zone zonenew newmedia media2010 2010/ zone magazine digital edition 19 july 2010


‘this is about social development, we’re a social organisation and the orchestra, for us, is the tool in creating that.’

‘They’re all sitting next to a child and it’s like having individual attention because as soon as the teachers say, ‘Find your D string’ all of the older children turn around and show the younger children where it is and how to play it.’ Big Noise now works with 250 children per week and has four different orchestras: a beginners’ orchestra for the children who are starting the holiday programme; a chamber orchestra for those who are showing particular promise and two other orchestras where children of different levels come together and play. During term-time, teachers work in schools with Nursery children, Primary 1 children and children with additional support needs. Children in Primaries 2 to 5 attend the after-school programme on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while individual and duo lessons take place on a rota basis. During the holidays, there are orchestra sessions every weekday morning. Apart from anything else, this means that the musicians who work for Sistema Scotland must make a huge commitment to the project in terms

of time. They work three days a week during the academic year and full-time during holiday periods when, according to Nicola Killean, the children most need continuity. They are also given ongoing training as part of their contract (in everything from Kodály and Suzuki to readership development and positive behaviour training) as well as a period of observation and training in Venezuela. This is important to Nicola because: ‘I do think that there is something about El Sistema that you need to be there to understand. To believe in it and to see the potential.’ Nicola herself has been to Venezuela four times and is passionate about the El Sistema model: ‘There’s a feeling of constant momentum and they are always busy, they are always working harder than anyone you’ll ever have met. When we were there, The Simón Bolívar Orchestra came back from touring Europe on the Saturday. On the Wednesday, they had Simon Rattle there conducting a national children’s symphony orchestra of about 380 children from all over

Nicola Killean

Venezuela. At the same time, they had Gustavo Dudamel rehearsing an opera with the Simon Bolivar A Orchestra and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra were going straight back into rehearsals to put on another opera. ‘On top of that, they have 220 of these children’s orchestra centres – nuclei – operating six days a week all over the country, each with 3,000 children through the door every day. It just blows your mind - in a good way! The momentum, the Venezuelan spirit is that anything is possible. It’s very much a can-do philosophy.’ Bringing that can do philosophy to the UK hasn’t all been plain sailing. Sistema Scotland has its detractors including those who feel that the

The Sistema Scotland Big Noise Orchestra project features in musiclearninglive!2011, The National Festival of Music Education, 3 & 4 March at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow


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project is undermining the validity (and therefore funding opportunities) of already established music education providers.

everyone believes – that the arts is a tool for social change – then ultimately it will benefit the whole sector.’

Nicola Killean is keen to emphasise that Big Noise is first and foremost a social programme: ‘For us, this is about social development, we’re a social organisation and the orchestra, for us, is the tool in creating that. We’re not here to try and take anything away from other arts or music organisations.

The social benefits of the programme are difficult to deny and Sistema Scotland hopes to get the next Big Noise centre up and running by Summer 2011 with a third planned for 2013. In the meantime, with the new intake of woodwind, brass and percussion teachers, Big Noise Raploch is starting the summer holidays – and its third year – with all the tools needed to create a full symphony orchestra for the first time. Not bad for a two-year-old!

‘I fundamentally believe that if we can make this long-term and we can prove once and for all what

Big Noise Orchestra Sistema Scotland El Sistema Venezuela

Nicola Killean, Sistema Scotland Director

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Fighting talk

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, pulled no punches in her keynote address to delegates at musiclearninglive!2011


he politicians have told us that the last ten years have been very good for music education, with a range of initiatives being delivered to redress the impact of cuts made in the 1980s and 90s when approximately fifty music services went under. Remember, it was only in 1999 that the then Under Secretary of State for Education Jacqui Smith introduced the Standards Fund for Music, and so much has happened since then. However, the politicians now tell us it is time for cuts and change.

Here are just a few recent quotes: • George Osborne has said ‘We will need to make early in-year reductions in existing plans … Programmes that represent poor value for money … will all have to be cut during the financial year’ • Nick Clegg has said: ‘We will be quite bold, or even savage, on current spending’ • Gordon Brown has said ‘Labour will cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes and cut lower priority budgets’ Just this week John Denham, the Community Secretary, has claimed that ‘huge savings of more than £20 billion can be made in the cost of local services by looking at spending on all the local public services in an area’ We are entering a period of great uncertainty, and we need to ask ourselves what can we do to ensure good quality music education is still available to children. What are the things which really matter and how can we work together as a sector to make sure these survive, no matter which party is in government, come 7 May 2010? Music has been at the centre of celebration and ceremony in every civilisation for thousands of years. Music’s power to communicate all human emotions has been a source of inspiration and consolation throughout the world’s history. It has rich and diverse patterns of rhythm and pitch and harmony – it is a universal language that encourages and extends the aspirations and ideals of all. As John Ruskin said: ‘Great nations write their


We also have the speech from Ed Vaizey, the Shadow Culture Minister, which he gave at the Yehudi Menuhin School on the 27th of January and the very recently published Conservative Arts Manifesto which proposes rationalising arts funding in schools. In particular, the manifesto notes that while there has been an emphasis on music in schools, a blizzard of numerous initiatives has meant that while the money is there, many people fall through the cracks. They intend to consolidate the funding streams for the arts in schools, and ensure that the funding available is used to promote three aims, namely: that every child in school will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; that every child has the chance to learn to sing; and that every child is able to receive a solid cultural education. autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last’. The ISM is firmly committed to music education and that commitment is based on the premise that access to an excellent music education is a right for all people, regardless of sex, race, creed, religion or age. The UK has a musical heritage which it can rightfully be proud of, and a great deal of this can be attributed to the dedication, commitment and professionalism of a very large number of teachers and practitioners working in a wide array of settings. So how does this aspiration compare with what is being offered by the main political parties in the run up to the general election? In the draft education manifesto from the Conservatives, they talk about a rigorous curriculum and exam system. The proposal is to reform the national curriculum so that it is more challenging and based on evidence about what knowledge can be mastered by children at different ages. In particular, the Conservatives wish to ensure that the Primary curriculum is organised around subjects such as maths, science and history – there is no mention of the arts. There is also much talk of ensuring that Ofsted adopts a more rigorous and targeted inspection regime.

The government’s proposals for education focus on literacy and numeracy skills. The Children, Schools and Families Bill, the latest education bill, is currently in the report stage in the House of Commons and still has all its stages to go in the House of Lords. There are two relevant components of the Bill for us: the introduction of pupil and parent guarantees and the introduction of the Primary Curriculum as proposed by the Rose Review. To be implemented, most of the regulations will need a ‘statutory instrument’ to bring them into force. This is unlikely to happen before the General Election. So this Bill may not actually take effect. The Pupil and Parent Guarantees set out entitlements that have to be met but they do not necessarily come with any extra funding and are not legally enforceable. The guarantees give a music pledge, that every Primary pupil should have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument; and that every pupil should have access to high-quality cultural activities in and out of school. The Liberal Democrats have pledged more money for schools so that they can cut class sizes and offer more one-to-one tuition. They have suggested an extra £2.5 billion on schools. They feel the National

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‘The Standards Fund is absolutely critical to music education in this country’

Curriculum is too rigid and want to replace it with a more flexible minimum curriculum entitlement offering greater choice and room for innovation. Education is a hotly contested area with all three main parties making education one of their key priorities in the forthcoming election; and it is no wonder that politicians fight over this particular patch of ground given that twelve million of the electorate have children, and all those children will be going through the education system. So education is all about votes. And, in the hurlyburly of so much debate, it is all too easy for music education to become lost. But it must not be lost. It is too important to be lost. To quote Plato: ‘Education in music is most sovereign, because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grace, if one is rightly trained.’ Music education has had significant support since 1999 when the government introduced the Standards Fund for Music which is ring-fenced funding, allocated to music education for Local Authorities to distribute each year. Report number 2 of the Music Manifesto called for a commitment to the Music Standards Fund until 2011 to enable

music services to participate fully in strengthening and improving music education provision. It is currently £82.5 million per annum. Responsibility for using the £82.5 million Fund rests with each Local Authority to enhance opportunities for pupils to access high quality music education, giving priority to instrumental and vocal opportunities at Key Stage 2. The Music Standards Fund directly levers in a further £136.5 million of investment in music education, with approximately £25 million from Local Authorities and a further £112 million being contributed by schools, parents, sponsorship and charitable support. Without the leverage of the ring-fenced Music Standards Fund, it is likely that a significant part of the music education funding of £219 million, together with infrastructure, would be lost. And although infrastructure sounds like a boring word, it is critical for it is only the infrastructure of Music Services which can enable young people to come together and work together in county-level orchestras, ensembles and the like. The Standards Fund is absolutely critical to music education in this country. Let us not forget that before it was introduced around fifty Music Services had been lost because of inadequate funding. And now some of those Music Services have reconstituted themselves as a result of the Standards Fund.

And it is not just music professionals who recognise the importance of music education. The public recognise its value as well. We recently commissioned a poll through You Gov to establish how much support the public give to music education. The results of the poll were very interesting. 91% of adults believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument in school. And more than three quarters of the public back the current level of funding for the Standards Fund. And did you know, that when you break this down the Standards Fund costs just 3p per person per week? As a sector, we need to argue strongly for the Standards Fund for Music to be maintained at least at its current level, if not increased, to 2015. Not only do we have a music education system which is recognised as world class but we also have a general public which is hugely supportive of music education. We should recognise this fact and be very proud. Perhaps music educators have been hiding their lights under a bushel for too long. Perhaps now is the moment for us to speak up loudly and proclaim just how good music education really is in this country and how much support it has. Music education has become a political issue with Ed Vaizey giving a keynote address on this subject

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to the Yehudi Menuhin School on the 27th of January 2010. In that speech, Ed Vaizey sets out his preliminary ideas about music and cultural education. It is commendable that he has decided that this is an area he wants to engage with. He identifies the ‘real problem’ as being a blizzard of initiatives and states that he wants to bring coherence, stability and long-term strategy to the sector. Many of us would agree that there have perhaps been too many initiatives, some of which have not yet been assessed. However, out of the blizzard, there have been some real advances such as Wider Opportunities which is supported by the Music Standards Fund and has now been evaluated by Professor Anne Bamford. The research demonstrated a number of positive outcomes of the Wider Opportunities programme, following a survey of Music Services, head teachers, pupils and parents. The evaluation of the Wider Opportunities programme found that 96% of Primary schools surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that it had provided instrumental education to those children who would otherwise not have received it. There was overwhelming evidence that it had been an enjoyable experience and that children’s confidence has increased as a result of the programme. As one pupil said ‘Sometimes we come in from playtime so we can start early.’ This correlates with the research which we carried out of our members. They told us that Wider Opportunities had increased musicianship and take-up. They told us that the initiatives were viewed as helping deprived children (boys in particular) become more involved in music than they might have done. ISM members also felt that initiatives like Wider Opportunities and Sing Up had raised the profile of music in schools and in society generally. And let us not forget that Wider Opportunities has been made possible because of the Standards Fund.

Sing Up has also been a successful and accessible programme, focusing on Key Stage 2. Singing of course is good for physical, psychological and social well being, enhances a sense of group identity and is great fun. Music is part of the Primary curriculum and therefore it is the responsibility of Head Teachers and Governors to ensure it is delivered. While Sing Up has made a great impact, this must not deflect us from holding Head Teachers to account for the delivery of the music element of the curriculum. We need to get to the stage where Primary schools can deliver music by themselves with the support of other groups rather than the other way around. Ed Vaizey is right to ask the question, ‘Can my child learn a musical instrument and, if my child is talented, can I guarantee that they will be able to sustain their talent?’ I would answer this question by suggesting that if we are going to be sure that the child can have access to all these things then Music Services need to be a statutory requirement for each Local Authority. It should not be left to their discretion as to whether or not there is a Music Service in operation. It should not be left to the Head Teacher to decide whether music has an important role to play in the school. Ed Vaizey, in his speech, focuses on music education being part of the cultural offering. However, it is much more than this. Music is a curriculum subject which helps to drive up standards in schools. The Conservatives in their education manifesto focus on Mathematics, English and Science so is there a risk that music could be edged out from the curriculum? This would be most unfortunate given that not only is music an intrinsic good, but in many studies, music has been proven to assist in academic achievement. For example, in the UK, in a sample of non-selective specialist schools, specialist music schools achieved the best results in A Level Physics in 2007. A recent study, using data from over 45,000 children in the USA found that associations between music and achievement persisted even when prior attainment was taken into account. If

music is not included in the Primary curriculum, there will be a negative impact on the other subjects which children are learning. Music education should be part of the education entitlement for all pupils. It is also creative – as, of course, are other subjects. But at its core, music education has its own pedagogy underpinned by knowledge, skills and understanding. It is an academic subject in its own right. What we do not want to see is music education being moved from the DCSF to the DCMS. Such a move would make music far more vulnerable to cuts and marginalisation and indeed, cease to be a curriculum subject. I am strongly of the view that to make the most of your creativity you need to have the skills and knowledge to underpin that creativity. I was really struck by this on reading the recent tributes to the fashion designer Alexander McQueen. He learnt his skills at the Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard and then later studied at Central St Martins. He needed those very precise tailoring skills; he needed to know the rules before he could start breaking them. The same is true of music. There are more facts and figures which are relevant to music education. Music contributes significantly to the UK economy; and the creative economy as a whole makes up 10 percent of the UK’s GDP. Currently, there are 1.97 million people working in the creative sector. By 2013, it is estimated a further 100,000 jobs will have been created. It is also a fact that performing arts graduates are more likely to be employed than most other graduates. No wonder then that it was the Creative Economy which was the only part of the economy which grew during the recession. We should be nurturing this sector and ensuring that we have the skills and the talents with which to continue to support and grow it. One of the things which comes up again and again when I speak with music educators is the feeling that there is a lack of professional development. The breadth of music education from antenatal music

‘Every human being is born with a certain level of musical potential and music education should reflect this’

classes for babies to community choirs, individual instrumental lessons for people of all ages to the formal requirements of the school curriculum, recording studios and rock schools to universities and conservatoires, demonstrates the challenges of creating a high-quality workforce who can deliver a high-quality music education. Of course, there are opportunities for professional development but the reality is that isolation as a music teacher is a real problem. Even music teachers teaching within schools on a permanent basis can find themselves feeling isolated from the rest of the music world. Music teachers must feel they are properly supported so they can continue to work as a musician with their students and not just as a teacher. Since music education relies on a workforce which extends far beyond classroom teachers, it is imperative that everyone involved in delivering music education has both a thorough grounding in understanding how to promote learning but also access to high quality CPD on a frequent basis. Music education in schools and higher education needs to be underpinned by strong models of reflective practice that empower quality teaching and learning and reflection should be adopted within all stages of teacher training and professional development. According to figures collected by the DCSF, there were 6,500 full time equivalent music teachers working in secondary schools in England in 2007 of which only 87% had a relevant post A level qualification. Whilst this is higher than art and design, it scratches the surface of the skills deficit in music teaching. This is further compounded when the demands of large-scale projects such as Wider Opportunities and Sing Up are taken into account. A major challenge for music education is how to attract more highly skilled musicians from all genres of music to undergo some form of rigorous professional teacher training. This is very apparent when one looks at conservatoire students. Currently, only a small minority of graduates from conservatoires gain QTS and research indicates

that their interest in becoming school music teachers ranks extremely low compared to other career choices in music. Surely it is time for music education elements to be incorporated into conservatoire courses to help change the attitude of these students about music teaching. Alongside all these various strands of music education, we must not forget the importance of music technology. There are some people who believe that the growth of music technology is the most fundamental change in the history of western music since the invention of notation in the 9th century. The music education sector must embrace these challenges and ensure that they have the skills to deliver a music technology curriculum suitable for the future. There is a shortage of published research in this field, and yet, in terms of the Creative Economy and the needs of the country, technology is going to be a major player. We badly need to understand the role that technology could play and to ensure that we have the skills to deliver it. This leads me to my final point: lifelong learning. Why should music educators just be engaged in teaching the young? We are all living longer. The average age at which men in this country can expect to live is 77.5 years and 81.7 years for women. The days of permanent employment with just one or two employers during a career are long past. The risk of unemployment is a constant threat. Many people decide to pursue a freelance career rather than steady 9 to 5 employment. As the population seeks a more flexible lifestyle, focusing more and more on a work-life balance which is healthy and nurturing, so the importance of lifelong learning increases. Every human being is born with a certain level of musical potential and music education must reflect this. Access to music education must be available from the cradle to the grave. The ability to engage with music is just as important to older people as it is to younger people. Engaging

in music can prevent illness, reduce the symptoms of depression, improve overall well-being and give people a new sense of purpose. As just one example of this, Kuljeet Rana, a participant in a Sing for Your Life programme run in Dartford said ‘The music sessions relax me; they relieve my stress and I feel that I am in a different world’. Our recent poll commissioned from You Gov reinforces this. The poll found that there is demand for learning music with 62% of adults wanting to learn or already learning a musical instrument or singing in a choir. Given this demand, there is a clear need to cater for adult music education. We need those working in music to link up and ensure that all people, regardless of age have the opportunity to engage with music. The same is true for young children and parents. There is clear evidence that new parents who adopt singing at home improve their children’s social, emotional and musical development and I am delighted that both the Labour and Conservative parties have committed to expanding the provision of Sure Start centres. There is so much wonderful work going on in music education. Our music education is envied across the world, and we should all be justifiably proud. Yes, there may be the odd issue over coherence and linkage. However, the music teachers I meet are totally committed to providing a top-quality music education to their students whatever their age, whatever their background. So coming back to my opening question, in a time of political and economic uncertainty with the threat of cuts, what should the music education sector do? • First, we must proclaim that music education in this country is of an international standard and needs fighting for • Second, we need to campaign for the Music Standards Fund, namely ring-fenced central government funding. The public back the funding and we need to take action as a sector to secure it to at least 2015 • Third, we must ensure that music remains part

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of the National Curriculum. Music education is not just a cultural offering. It is a subject in its own right, the same as chemistry or maths. It is not just about finding your creativity, and having musical experiences. It is about progression in learning and therefore it must maintain its rightful place within the DCSF portfolio. • Fourth, we need to hold Head Teachers to account for delivery of music in the curriculum and take steps to ensure Head Teachers fully understand the benefits of a music education. • Fifth, we need to create the workforce of the

future who will continue to make an extraordinary contribution to the Creative Economy and, to do this, we need coherent professional development. • Finally, we should celebrate the diversity in our field. I, personally, have never been able to understand some of the distinctions which are made between different types of music. Music is music. As musicians, our role is to ensure that it is of the very highest quality and that the music education which runs alongside it is also of the very highest quality.

In this way, we can ensure that generations to come can take part in, engage with and understand music and appreciate it for its intrinsic value. And if there is any doubt about this, remember we want life to be more than solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. To quote Plato again, ‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind and life to everything’ and ‘If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life’.






Sounding board

Key Stage 1 class teacher Janice Hadwin argues the case for Primary music education


was present at the final musiclearninglive!2010 Q&A forum on 26 February. Several topics came up about which I feel very strongly and, although I only spoke briefly, I have carried on thinking through my thoughts and am happy for these to have a wider audience!

I am a part-time Key Stage 1 teacher (in an Infantonly school) and work for Sefton Music Service one day a week as a classroom music teacher. I feel absolutely passionate about the right of every child

to develop their musicianship skills and for them to regard themselves as musical. Compared to what is available today, I had a very dry and sparse music education and I am not a trained musician. Rather, I have discovered my musicality in adulthood and although I will never perform competently as a ‘musician’ – say, for example, in an orchestra – I do regard myself as musical and able to take part in musical activities such as singing in a choir, playing in a group etc.

I was lucky enough to find my singing voice with Sing for Pleasure which gave me an excellent introduction to developing my voice and also teaching young children. I have completed lots of training for teaching music to Primary-aged children including courses with Sing for Pleasure, Manchester Music Service and The Voices Foundation. Discovering my own musicality developed and changed me significantly in many ways; it improved my inner confidence and esteem, helping me understand and develop my ability to

Primary children and their muisic teacher participating in musiclearninglive!2010

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‘If we really want to revolutionise our music education....we need to look at the way music is taught in Primary schools by day-to-day practitioners’ express myself emotionally and giving me more understanding about who I am as a person. I feel there is a huge gap in our society’s perception of what being ‘musical’ is. The first thing a lot of Primary teachers (and parents) say to me is ‘I’m not musical’ as though being musical is something for the ‘talented’ or ‘experts’ or ‘specialists’ which is just not true. I wonder how many people regard dancing to music as being ‘musical’! I do think we are on the right track when Paul Collard (in his musiclearning!2010 keynote speech) talks about involving parents. If parents are singing/ playing/dancing, children will follow suit. Music is a skills-based, developmental subject that needs to be taught in a systematic way with regular practice, consolidation and progressive introduction of new concepts, vocabulary and symbols that fit with levels of development of the children (in a very similar way to literacy and numeracy which is probably why music goes hand in hand with the three Rs). If, for example, reading were only taught once a week at best, there would be an uproar because a significant proportion of children would not learn to read fluently. I would also take a bet that the majority of those children would be from disadvantaged backgrounds. Does this ring any bells from Paul Collard’s speech? If we really want to revolutionise our music education and give our children a music education that leaves them with competent musicianship skills and awareness so that they regard themselves as ‘musical’, we need to look at the way music is taught in Primary schools by day-to-day practitioners. I have seen fantastic results in the levels of musical ability and awareness in my Infant children after a Voices Foundation Programme that worked closely with class teachers over a year to deliver a comprehensive skills-based music curriculum. (We could not afford the second year so were not able to continue a full programme after the first year.)


There is evidence to show that those children who learn a musical instrument perform better generally in school and especially in numeracy and literacy. These children are also learning music in a regular and systematic way and the Wider Opportunities Programmes that are most successful are those where the class teacher is committed to practising and consolidating through the week in between lessons. I am concerned that the recent Rose report seems to throw music into an arts umbrella that leaves interpretation of the music curriculum as very woolly. Most Primary teachers can teach numeracy and literacy standing on their heads and yet INSET time is spent over and over again looking at these areas and trying to make sense of the endless new initiatives and assessment and target processes and APP and tracking (in numeracy and literacy) and small group support to raise children’s levels of performance in numeracy and literacy to improve or maintain league tables of SAT’s results etc., etc. In my experience, very little time is spent by government training teachers in subjects which they are less confident teaching. Imagine the effects on literacy and numeracy if musical skills such as auditory memory skills, auditory discrimination skills, reading visual symbols and so on were developed (and funded) in the same way as the numeracy/ literacy hour and new Primary curriculum (already the old Primary curriculum!). Teachers know how to teach numeracy and literacy – give it a rest! The solution to good music teaching in schools is not to send in Ofsted inspectors to ensure music is being taught. A lot of teachers don’t teach music effectively because they haven’t the confidence or haven’t had appropriate training. They need time and help, not inspecting.

understanding were already in place. This is achievable if taught systematically from Nursery with the intention that children will become musicians in their own way, just as we teach them ferociously with the intention that they will become readers and writers and mathematicians in their own way. I believe this is the way to a revolution in our music teaching and this is the way to making millions more children music makers and more rounded individuals. Educators who are not music specialists need to be made aware of the nature of the subject and how it needs to be taught effectively. I wonder how many Primary teachers were at musiclearninglive!2010 as opposed to Music Leaders/teachers. If a government wants to change lives through music, they need to raise its profile as a subject at Primary level.

musiclearninglive!2011 takes place on 3 & 4 March at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow. Thanks to support from Creative Scotland, places are available for Primary teachers at specially subsidised rates. For programme details and bookings please visit

How many music services offer INSET to whole school staff regarding their music teaching in Primary schools? Imagine what could be taught in Wider Opportunities Programmes if significant musicianship skills and awareness and

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A Day in the Life of... Lawrence Reed, MA composition student at Bath Spa University Saturday, May 1 2010 was the culmination of ‘5 ways’, Lawrence Reed’s Community Music composition project for the village of Larkhall, Bath 4.30am I’m downstairs rummaging around with some percussion while being careful not to wake the family. I’m getting some weird and interesting sounds out of scratching the edges and hitting the sides. I can’t sleep so I fix up the portable CD players and megaphone with batteries and test them out. Will anyone turn up? Will the weather let us perform outside? 5.30am I return to bed much more relaxed. 9.00am I stroll to Oriel Hall in Larkhall, Bath, where my Community Music piece ‘5 ways’ is being performed at 12 o’clock to launch the 2010 Larkhall Festival. The doors are locked so I huddle up in the cold and think about why I’m doing this. My MA in Composition at Bath Spa University has led me down a path of developing improvisation

frameworks for community events. I want ‘5 ways’ to realise and reflect the five key objectives of the Festival – engaging local schools and the community; celebrating Larkhall; unlocking creativity and developing skills; creating something interesting, entertaining and important; and having fun – using five distinct layers of sound: 1 Sounds of the village recorded by pupils from St Saviour’s Junior School reflected back from portable CD players and speakers mounted on Bath’s famous pink milk float (I call this piece ‘the noise manufactory’)

2 Pupils from St Saviour’s Infants’ School performing a series of rhythmic chants inspired by Larkhall and accompanied by percussion, including the use of objects found in the village 3 Local musicians and members of Bristol’s Cube Orchestra interpreting an improvisational framework designed for the event 4 St Saviour’s Junior School playing atmospheric percussion - often in a sequence or cross-rhythm 5 The bells of St Saviour’s Church ringing something different – including an awesome 'firing' of the bells

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10.00am It’s clear the weather is going to be unpredictable so I opt to hold the majority of activity inside the hall with some of the children processing in and out. I arrange chairs in a semi-circle for the performers and meet with festival organisers. Photographers and video-makers arrive and start setting up. Apart from making a record of the event, we are creating a video installation as part of next year’s festival. 11.00am My two daughters turn up with friends and instruments. Members of the Cube Orchestra arrive along with local musicians. I have to say that getting musicians to commit to an unpaid community event has been the hardest part of the project but at last I can relax – our scratch orchestra is taking shape! 11.20am We chat through the form of ‘5 ways’ – essentially designed to move with the church bells and link together the children’s percussive sounds and chanting. The frameworks involve simple guidelines around which players may improvise. I’ve been working with these as part of my MA, perhaps most notably the Acrophobia project in Trafalgar Square where over fifty musicians turned up to interpret a grid of notes while I conducted from the Fourth Plinth. In that case, there was no contact with the musicians beforehand – just the exchange of the framework – so even having ten minutes to run through some interpretations is a luxury.

to wander round with portable CDs playing (or ‘reflecting’) the sounds back into the environment they came from. One last check outside and I see the milk float has arrived and is blasting out the noises the kids have recorded: the rustling of a crisp wrapper, the hum of the local bus, an amazing spontaneous velcro ensemble! 11.50am St Saviour’s infants gather with their teacher, Sophie. The infants have been a real joy to work with and one of the keys to this is that Sophie has enthusiastically embraced the project and carried the children along with us. The infants are divided into five groups, all with a different chant of their own devising. The words are designed to evoke Larkhall while the rhythms are linked to the other themes. In workshops, we’ve explored complex counting games and cross rhythms and the children’s aptitude has been a source of amazement to myself and their teachers. They’ve brought ‘made’ and ‘found’ percussion – brightly painted cardboard shakers and drums, dustbin lids and sticks to beat them with. Suddenly everything looks very festive and there’s a buzz of excitement as parents and festival-goers take their places on chairs or crane their necks at the back. 12 noon My nerves and reservations slip away as I pick up my megaphone, startle everyone into silence and we’re off… 12.20pm Everyone makes their way outside, chanting, playing, plucking, banging. The bells are reaching the crescendo of their firing, the CD players and milk float are blasting out the recorded sounds, the kids launch brightly coloured helium balloons into the sky and with a final roar it’s all over.

11.30am Juniors from St Saviour’s arrive. We’ve been working on the use of original percussive sounds together and in sequences. An interesting part of this work has been linking it in with the sounds we recorded around the village two weeks ago. That was a riot – fifteen children with three microphones recording all sorts of sounds and making a few of their own along the way! We explored the very nature of sound and the concept of what is ‘noise’ or ‘note’ and what falls in between: ‘node’. We all became acutely aware of the lack of silence anywhere and the richness of sound around us.

In terms of my own learning and the MA in Composition, the results have been diverse. In teaching the infants various mathematical rhythmic models and creating chants, I’ve been amazed at their natural ability.

11.45am I find a couple of mates who are prepared

I really think there is room to develop this further

with crossovers into vowel sounds and more. During the collection of sounds from the village with the juniors, I’ve been struck by what children notice and how they categorise the sound around them. Also, how they embrace the ‘noise, node, note’ model and are quickly able to apply it. Involving the church bells with their octave of notes in G was a terrific experiment as well. The project demonstrates how layers of sound from a variety of sources can be assimilated and overlapped while reflecting the same local themes. I do believe it validates the idea of simple improvisational frameworks and I shall continue to work on this. So… what about the performance? The really important thing here is that there is no right or wrong execution of an experimental framework like ‘5 ways’. You can listen to a recording and make judgements about the ‘music’ but the performance is all about the ‘here and now’ and the project is all about the process rather than the product. On reflection, I believe we went a long way to achieving our key objectives: engaging local schools and the community, celebrating Larkhall, unlocking creativity and developing skills, creating something interesting, entertaining and important and, above all, having fun.

Further information You can check out details of this project, including recordings and the ‘5 ways’ improvisational frameworks, at Details of the Acrophobia project can be found at

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Public-Private Partnership: Vivaldi at Winchester College Nicholas Wilks, Master of Music at Winchester College, describes a performance project bringing together schools in Hampshire


ne of the most important principles of musical outreach is using any resources you have and using them to match a need in the community. It sounds an incredibly obvious thing to say but there is often resistance to it, particularly when the resource is unique.

Winchester College is the only school in the UK to have retained its original foundation of trebles and they have a unique name – Quiristers. The statutes drawn up by the school’s Founder, William of Wykeham, over 600 years ago laid down the provision of 16 Quiristers to sing services in the College Chapel and, although their activities now include external concerts, tours and recordings, this still remains the heart of what they do. This means that they are part of a choir in which they sing treble (assuming their voices last) until they are 13 or in Year 8. In Winchester’s state schools, children make the transition to Secondary school two years earlier and, for boys in particular, this often signals the end of any interest they may have had in singing. It takes a rare courage to sing treble in Secondary school. Singing can too often be associated with what you do in Primary school, a sign of immaturity or ‘geekiness’.

The way this project was developed was through contacting Hampshire Music Service, my employer when I was Director of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra (my post before I went to Winchester College). We brainstormed ideas for what we could do – what Winchester could offer and what was needed in local schools. The conclusions we reached were encouraging.

The Quiristers offer an opportunity to bridge this gap, not least because they do continue singing treble for another two years and take great pride in it. Their repertoire includes secular as well as sacred music and, for all their uniqueness, they are refreshingly normal children with normal interests. The question is how to bridge this gap in practice.

Winchester College could offer varied and plentiful rehearsal and performance venues, boys singing throughout Secondary age range (Quiristers being of particular value in demonstrating bridging the gap between Primary and Secondary schools) and experience in choral repertoire.

It is important to be realistic. There is no way that 16 boys can effect a revolution in singing in Hampshire just because they are brilliant singers whose age bridges the gap between Primary and Secondary school. Any project would need to start at Primary school level and track these children through into Secondary school – not an easy task. The children will not all go on to the same Secondary school, for a start, although many of them will.

Hampshire Music Service was happy to provide organisational and administrative back-up (a real godsend), connections with other musical work in the county and established (and excellent) working relationships with Hampshire-maintained schools, a central role as Sing Up Area Leaders and experience to older boys at Winchester College wishing to learn and teach skills in musical leadership.


We quickly settled on the idea of working with a Secondary school, Wyvern College. Wyvern lies south of Winchester in Fair Oak on the outskirts of Eastleigh, which itself lies just north of Southampton. The Director of Music Bryan Postlethwaite and I agreed that the main aim should be to focus on the transition between Primary and Secondary schools, involving Wyvern School Choir, Wyvern Community Choir (which includes parents and staff), together with Wyvern’s six feeder Junior and Infant schools. The scale was ambitious but it had an enormous advantage in working with partnerships and a structure which already existed. The concert would last about an hour. The second half would consist of a performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria with the combined choirs of Wyvern Community Choir, Wyvern College Choir and around 100 Key Stage 2 Juniors from Stoke Park, Fair Oak, Durley and Upham. The first half would comprise a number of short items, including two or three items for Infant singers, with the Quiristers incorporated into the joint choir.

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10 things you should know about Music Services…


Music is working – over 2 million children are taught successfully by Music Services to play and sing every week



Music Services have over 12,000 trained, qualified teachers working with children to attain the highest standards in and through music education

Music Services create partnerships to maximise musical opportunities for all young people




Music Services identify and nurture exceptional talent


Music Services are the backbone of music education – without them few children would have instrumental and vocal lessons

Music Services give thousands of children the opportunity to perform live on stage through concerts and events each year

Music Services work with children throughout their educational life: fostering a culture of rigour and aspiration, helping them progress on each step of their musical journey

Music Services’ teaching of Special Educational Needs and Socially Excluded children is recognised as world class


Music Services run over 4,000 bands, youth, school and county orchestras and ensembles


Music Services are a vital part of what makes Britain musical

The Federation of Music Services is proud to represent nearly every Music Service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (158). In partnership with many others we make Britain musical. For more details and case histories on how music transforms children and schools, contact: John Witchell, Chief Executive FMS, 7 Courthouse Street, Otley, Leeds LS21 3AN. Tel: 01943 463311 Fax: 01943 461188 Email:

Leaders in music education

There were a number of reasons for choosing Vivaldi’s Gloria, not least the fact that the work was written with young voices in mind. There were also the advantages that the Baroque idiom is both demanding and engaging – the young singers relished the challenges of learning an unfamiliar style, singing in Latin and making sense of words which celebrate a feeling of goodwill, regardless of religious belief. Above all, the Gloria is hugely enjoyable to sing. It is the type of music which has a life of its own, needing only the smallest prompt to spring into life and guide its performers to an exciting realisation of the spirit behind the notes. The Vivaldi also meant that we could include young Hampshire string players, a ’cello continuo player and a trumpeter from Winchester College, with Hampshire Music Service teachers leading the sections. There was a great bonus for singers and players alike – Hampshire Music Service has recently acquired a number of Baroque bows which all the string players used and played without vibrato – a marvellously stylish effect. The logistics of the Vivaldi choral rehearsals were challenging. Because Stoke Park and Durley are at some geographical distance from Wyvern, I had to alternate my visits to each area and, with a twoweek rotation between Fair Oak and Stoke Park, I only saw the same children for 6 out of the 12 rehearsals. There was a real question as to whether this would be enough time to learn all the material. We found a pragmatic answer to this which was to focus on a small number of choruses, including the outer movements so that the children had the satisfaction of starting and finishing the Vivaldi. I also made a recording of the joint items for the first half so that this could be used for rehearsals which I was not taking in person. I was also concerned that the children would forget the music after a two-week gap between rehearsals. Their ability to retain new and difficult music was extraordinary. Although the learning itself took a long time and wrong notes were alarmingly quick to establish


themselves, it was thorough and picking up where we left off two weeks before did not prove to be a problem. Towards the end of the rehearsal period, I included in my visits a number of Quiristers who were doing this kind of work for the first time and, throughout the Easter term, I had the indispensible assistance of a boy at Winchester College, an organist who wants to develop his understanding of outreach work and whose contribution to the success of the project (particularly in some gospel repertoire) was invaluable. More difficult was sorting out the repertoire for the first half of the concert. I was anxious that the Primary and Infant school children should enjoy themselves through musical games and warm-up exercises and that we should not be focusing too early on the repertoire for the concert. We decided to incorporate these musical games and warm-up exercises into the performance by getting the children not merely to demonstrate what they had been doing but to teach their parents how to do it in the concert itself. We used an Australian call and response welcome song to bring the singers onto the stage, then taught the audience how to match actions with consonants – alternately standing and sitting whenever they sang the consonant ‘b’, clapping on the vowel ‘o’ and so on.

I was extremely relieved that using the Australian welcome song to usher the singers on stage was effective and that the choreography for the African songs actually worked (I am the world’s worst dancer so the children had to take a spectacular leap of faith to believe that my direction would pay off). For Hampshire Music Service, ‘It had such a blend of elements and people and was truly inclusive as well as being somewhat 'out of the box' – with a great result in both 'halves' of the event.’ As for the Vivaldi itself, the experience is best summed up by a member of the choir who wrote to me afterwards in these terms: What a fabulous evening! I’ve never considered myself a singer and asked Bryan [Director of Music at Wyvern College] who the choir was for. ‘Anyone – to boost the endorphins.’ I consider my endorphins well and truly boosted! Thanks for being gentle with us. The majority of us have never read music and we never dreamt we’d perform in Latin! I do not think there can be much more eloquent testimony to the importance of this kind of work than that.

The concert itself was a memorable occasion.

zone magazine digital edition 19 / july 2010 © zone new media 2010 /

product review recorder rebels product: recorder rebels what: ks2 whole class recorder scheme teacher book & flashcards; pupil book by: nathan theodoulou, samantha spence and tara franks price: £29.99+VAT (teacher bk + flashcards) £6.99+VAT (pupil book) £200+VAT (classroom pack - teacher book, flashcards & 30 pupil books) from: cambridge education ltd 020 7527 5829 OK, first up, a confession: I taught recorders for six years but only to Year 2s. It was frustrating, entertaining and hard work. I had all the usual problems: finding a decent place to teach (the drum teacher had the Music Room that afternoon so we’d end up in the Dining Hall or the Parents’ Room or the Library or… you get the picture); engaging 6-7 year olds with a book that was written in the 70s; dealing with the dichotomy between what the children would have liked to do and what their fingers were physically capable of doing and so on.

The hardest bit was – as always – getting the group to concentrate and that’s why a scheme like Recorder Rebels would have been if not a godsend then a definite Big Help.

• • •

I say not a godsend because the scheme is aimed at Years 3-6 so my Year 2s would have quickly run out of things they could play. There are 13 pieces to learn and they move from ‘Mister B’, which is a Reggaestyle introduction to Note B, through ‘Blow The Blues Away’ (G, A, B, C and D) to ‘Life’s A Beach’ (D, E, F, F sharp, G, A, B, C, D – see below). When I first looked at the scheme, I wondered how the authors expected pupils to pick up the fingerings so quickly until I remembered that it’s not aimed at Year 2s with tiny fingers and that when I briefly taught Year 3s I was amazed at how much easier they found the whole process. And, of course, it’s taught over the course of a year. The scheme is broken into six units – one per half term – covering five areas of musical learning: • Warm-ups: songs, games and rhythmic starter activities

Rhythm work: flashcards, notation reading and Dalcroze activities (see example below) Song repertoire: suggested songs in a variety of styles Instrumental: pitch flashcards, fingering and technique (see example below) Instrumental repertoire: performance pieces and suggested listening

In this sense, it can be used in a Wider Opportunities context and although the authors recommend that ‘ideally a specialist instrumental teacher should teach the scheme’, it is set out in such a way that any musically minded Primary teacher could do so equally well. I think it’s great. Contemporary, challenging and fun, I can imagine it makes teaching and learning the recorder ‘cool’ (possibly for the first time in history). I know my Year 2s would have loved to be Recorder Rebels. Heck, I quite fancy being one myself.

zone magazine digital edition 19 / july 2010 © zone new media 2010 /

CathyTozer Editor


product review musical trixstar and challenges are encountered, arranged in categories from Adagio (easy) through Moderato (medium) to Vivace (hard).

product: musical trixstar what: educational board game by: musical trixstar price: £44.98 including p & p from: +44 (0)1629 700289

I’d never been asked to review a board game before. New music, books, CDs and concerts, yes, but a board game was a first. I love board games but nevertheless decided to consult the experts – six Year 5 boys from my form at school. Musical Trixstar is a game for 2–6 players or teams, the aim of which is to move around the board starting at the time signature and finishing at the double barline. Along the way, musical questions

The game is very straightforward to play and certainly great fun. We all found the Adagio questions rather too easy but some of the Vivace questions were pleasingly taxing for my 10-year old games testers! We found that a game usually lasted about 45 minutes (perfect for wet lunchtimes) and the boys learnt a lot along the way. I was impressed with the sturdiness of the game’s construction, from the well-moulded musical instru-ment playing pieces to the quaver counters and the board itself with its spinning central wheel – well designed. After a few games, I found that the boys at school had adapted a few of the rules and their ideas certainly make sense. They decided that they

shouldn’t be allowed to use Mentor or Pass cards when playing Accelerando (speed) rounds as this made the game too easy. They also decided that All Play rounds were too problematic and instead made these into two-player ‘duels’. Once we had established these House Rules, we played the game regularly for a couple of weeks. We didn’t tire of it (as many of the questions were refreshingly different) and even ended up with a league table in the classroom. This is a great game: it’s fun, educational and, at times, quite taxing. I believe that it could be a real hit in any school with Primary age children or to have at home. I particularly enjoyed one question which required me to make the sound of a horse… Brian Cotterill Director of Music, Lanesborough School

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zone magazine digital edition 19 / july 2010 © zone new media 2010 /

g O n i ut S

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for Marie Curie Cancer Care

Every song you sing will support terminally ill cancer patients at Christmas To find out more or to host your own event Call: 08700 340 040 Email: Visit:

Marie Curie Cancer Care provides high quality nursing, totally free, to give people with terminal cancer and other illnesses the choice of dying at home, supported by their families.



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Zone magazine issue 19  

Zone magazine - the national UK music education magazine

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