The Music Workshop Company Blog
Each month the Music Workshop Company publishes two blogs. One blog, written by the MWC team addresses a key issue in Music Education or gives information about a particular genre or period of music. The other blog is written by a guest writer, highlighting good practice or key events in Music Education. We hope you enjoy reading the blogs.
To subscribe, click here to visit our wordpress site.
To contribute as a guest writer please email Maria AT music-workshop.co.uk
Trestle Theatre Company is celebrating a big anniversary in 2017: It’s 15 years since the company moved into its home, Trestle Arts Base, a £2,000,000 refurbishment of the 100-year-old Hill End Hospital Chapel in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
It’s also a year of new beginnings for Trestle, as the new Trestle School of Drama opens its doors in September. Read more.
October 2017 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of two jazz legends: Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. Born 11 days apart on October 10 and 21, 1917, pianist, Monk and trumpeter, Gillespie, shaped the landscape of jazz composition and improvisation, each exploring harmonies with a complexity previously unheard in jazz, leaving behind an immense legacy of music. Read more.
In July a notable eighteen months after the EBacc consultation closed, the Department for Education (DfE) finally published its response to the ISM’s Bacc for the Future campaign. And music industry and educational professionals have been scathing in their reaction. Read more.
West End Theatre Director Nick Evans talks to the Music Workshop team about an exciting community singing project in memory of MP Jo Cox…
“One year ago the horrific murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, shocked the country. In a nation that was divided by the Brexit debate, and with the news seemingly filled with bleak events across Europe and America, there was a real sense of not knowing ‘what to do’ to make things better. As a theatre director on shows like ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ my skills seemed less than useful." Read More.
Nursery rhymes are traditional poems sung to small children. They often contain historical references and fantastical characters, and many have been rumoured to have hidden meanings.
The earliest nursery rhymes documented include a 13th century French poem numbering the days of the month. From the mid 16th century children’s songs can be found recorded in English plays. Read More.
Musicland Publications has been a leading publisher of sheet music, tuition books, teaching materials, teacher training programs, and learning resources for the Music Education sector, for over 30 years. String teachers in particular will be familiar with its tuition books, classical and contemporary music for solo instruments and ensembles.
Earlier this year, the firm announced an exciting re-launch, and a change of management, as Simon Hewitt Jones takes the reins. Read More.
May 15th 2017 marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi.
Born in 1567, in Cremona, Italy, Monteverdi was famous during his lifetime as a musician and composer, and his works are still regularly performed today.
Cremona is a city with a vast musical heritage. It was home to lute makers, later becoming renowned as a centre for musical instrument making, and home to the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari violin making families. The historic feudal system – the myriad noble families ruling Italy at the time – laid the way for music to develop, supported and funded by the court, offering employment and opportunity for musicians. Read More.
Launched in 2009, OperaScotland is led by three brothers who had no idea that what to them seemed such an obvious need – developing an archive of the live performing arts – had also been addressed elsewhere. For OperaScotland, the supporting archive mainly consists of large numbers of programmes collected over a lifetime of opera-going by three Scottish brothers, Peter, Iain and Stephen Fraser. Other programmes were inherited from their parents or came as generous gifts from opera fans. It has been primarily from these programmes that casts are copy-typed into the website. Read More.
A recent article in the Guardian by Charlotte C Gill has raised some interesting questions around problems in music education, and caused a fair amount of controversy too.
In her March 27 column, Gill expresses concern over the problems in class music – uptake in music at A-Level and GCSE has dropped by 9% since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) in 2010, an issue, which we’ve previously covered under the ISM’s Bacc for the Future campaign. Read More.
Sound Connections is a London based charity working to strengthen the music sector, bridge gaps in provision and deliver landmark music programmes. The charity’s Wired4Music council, made up of young people from a diverse cross-section of the community, all passionate about music, was set-up in 2009 to voice opinions on music education and raise awareness of musical opportunities. Since then they have established themselves as the only pan-London youth council with a music focus. Wired4Music member Tyler Edwards, an emerging artist and producer spoke at the Music Education Expo about his vision for music education. Read More.
The fairytale, a story featuring fantasy creatures such as goblins, mermaids and witches, often with an element of magical enchantment, derives from different stories passed down through the oral tradition in European cultures. As a literary genre, it was first identified by Renaissance writers such as Giambattista Basile, who collected and studied tales ‘from court to forest,’ published posthumously as Il Pentamerone, heavily baroque and metaphorical, and collector and writer of short stories, Giovanni Francesco Straparola. This idea of anthologies of stories followed in later collections such as the Brothers Grimm and One Thousand and One Nights. Read More.
Our guest blog this month is from Dawn Rose, an early career researcher in the psychology of music and dance. Dawn’s background as a professional musician (drummer), music teacher and performing artist has informed her research interests. Following a successful completion of the Music, Mind and Brain MSc. at Goldsmiths, University of London, Dawn continued on to complete PhD. Her doctoral work investigated effects of music education on cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional domains in children alongside expertise in adults. Read More.
Irish traditional music has existed for centuries, with songs and dance tunes passed on from generation to generation through the oral tradition. This practice of learning ‘by ear’ is still common today. Despite the number of printed tune and songbooks, students of traditional music generally learn tunes by listening to other musicians. Read More.
Youth Music is a national charity investing in music-making projects for children and young people facing challenging circumstances. This March, the charity is running a week-long music making extravaganza. Give a Gig week, which runs from March 24th to 31st 2017, is a nationwide project asking musicians to put on performances supporting young people. The aim is to see 100 gigs in settings from living rooms, local pubs and community facilities to legendary music venues or even more unusual spaces. York-based covers band, The Monotones, plan to stream gigs live from all Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Pennines! Read More.
TV talent shows have always made for gripping viewing. From programmes such as Opportunity Knocks and Stars in Their Eyes, the familiar format that takes ordinary people and thrusts them to stardom has long been popular.
So are these talent shows a good way to launch a performing career?
Tell us what do you think! Are TV Talent competitions are a good way to launch a performing career? Read More.
To start 2017 on a positive note there are opportunities to look back at the contributions of musicians over the centuries. The New Year marks the centenaries of Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, two monumentally influential jazz musicians. Both Monk and Gillespie were born in October 2017. Monk was the most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington while Gillespie is recognised as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, and teacher to other great musicians including Miles Davis. An October celebration of these two kings of jazz could make a great focus for Black History Month. Read More.
Christmas is fast approaching. It’s a time associated with happiness and music, lights, gifts and laughter. But Christmas can be a dark time for some, particularly those struggling with mental health issues.
The music industry has been determinedly addressing issues of wellbeing in performers in recent years. Players suffering physical issues such as RSI brought on by overuse, stress or postural issues have been able to find much needed support. There is considerable effort to educate musicians in a holistic way, acknowledging the importance of looking after the body. Read More.
In December 2015, we shared the ISM’s campaign regarding concerns over the government’s promotion of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and its negative impact on arts subjects in schools. It has now been over a year since the Bacc for the Future campaign launched, yet according to Mary Bousted, General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the thousands of individuals and organisations who responded to the consultation are still awaiting a response. Read More.
The sol-fa, or solfège, system is designed for singing. If you have ever heard the song Do Re Mi from Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music, you will be familiar with the idea. This concept transfers over to instrumental learning with the understanding that children can learn a great deal about pitch, rhythm and tone by learning to sing which can then be applied on any instrument. Read More.
The profile of classical music in schools is complex, with provision, inclusion and expectations differing wildly between primary and secondary age groups. Professional cellist and secondary school classroom teacher Sarah Evans describes her experiences of teacher attitudes, her frustration that classical music continues to be viewed as too challenging, and her determination to let her students make up their own minds. Read More
Music can play on the emotions very strongly; a phenomenon explored throughout music history but more recently and notably manipulated by composers of film and TV soundtracks. One of the strongest reactions to sounds can be fear. In the run up to Halloween we take a look at some scary music. What inspired the composers and why do these sounds frighten us? Read more.
The Mayor’s Music Fund (charity no. 1141216) was launched in 2011 in response to a London-wide survey carried out by City Hall, highlighting a number of gaps in provision for school-age musicians in the capital. We hear from Chief Executive, Chrissy Kinsella about the fantastic opportunities provided by the Fund. Read more.
To celebrate, our 14th birthday, Maria Thomas, Founder and Artistic Director, tells us about her inspiration, highlights and vision for the future. Alongside her work at MWC, Maria is Programme Leader for the Music Industry Management Programme at the University of Hertfordshire. Her specialism is entrepreneurship and small business. Read more.
We thought it would be interesting to look back over some of our recent guest blogs. This year we’ve been privileged to be able to share forward-looking contributions and ideas from exam board AQA, the ROH Bridge Project, Alex Stevens of Rhinegold Publishing and Handel and Hendrix in London among many others. Our guest bloggers continue to inform and inspire, enriching our view of music education. Read more.
Click on this text to edit it.
Funk is a genre that originated in the 1960s with musicians such as James Brown, was pioneered by singers like Betty Davis who was influenced by her husband, jazz musician Miles Davis, and by Jimi Hendrix. Funk was exemplified by the genius of Prince and it was among the styles explored by David Bowie, and integrated into his music. Read more.
Sarah Perryman, Music Qualifications Developer at AQA, has lots of exciting news update on supporting resources, shares details about AQA’s Commit To Teach campaign and tells us all about which CPD courses are available. There are also links to free posters for your classroom. Read more.
Today the word concerto is typically used to describe a piece of music that features a particular instrument or instruments as a soloist, accompanied by an orchestra. Soloists are the most glamorous, highly paid classical musicians and their concerto performances demonstrate the pinnacle of their skill. Read more.
The Royal Opera House Bridge project works to connect young people with great art and culture, breaking down the stereotypes of inaccessibility and nurturing networks and innovation. The issue of culture, music and learning is vital to the future of education. We showcase the Royal Opera House Bridge Conference which took place on 17th June 2016 ... Read More.
The musical community reacted with dismay and disbelief last month at the news that the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) was to close in September 2016 following a loss of funding from the EU.
Immediately, huge numbers of supporters from across the globe joined the campaign to #SaveEUYO ... Read more.
Perceptions around classical music can be that it is performed in a stuffy environment; that you have to be the right sort of person to enjoy it.
Founder of ABC Baby Concerts, Viola Player and Creative Music Leader, Neil Valentine is working to disprove these ideas, and to engage people of all ages in concert-going. He talks to MWC about his work ... Read more.
The end of April 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To commemorate, MWC talks to historic music specialist Emily Baines about the role and relevance of music in Shakespeare’s works ... Read more.
On February 10th, 2016, The Handel House Trust opened a new exhibit to the public - the London flat directly next door to Handel House, where singer, songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix lived for a brief time during the late 60's. Claire Davies, Head of Learning and Participation at Handel and Hendrix in London, shares her passion for the two great musicians...Read more.
This month we focus on the wonderful piano music of Fryderyk Chopin, whose birthday was on March 1st. Chopin’s piano music, which features on the AQA GCSE syllabus, is perhaps less immediately familiar to students than the music of their favourite pop band, but his influence on other musicians and composers was enormous. Read More.
As a change to our normal guest blog, this month we’ve prepared some tips on which stands to visit at this week’s Rhinegold Music Education Expo. As the Expo has moved to Earl’s Court this year with new zones we thought we’d signpost some interesting stands… Read More.
Samba is the most typical, important and recognisable music of Brazil. It is common throughout Brazil, but is most frequently associated with urban Rio de Janeiro, where it developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is celebratory music, frequently identified with Carnival and the exotic, feathered dance outfits. Rio’s football grounds will come alive with samba music and dance during the 2016 Olympics. Read More.
The music industry has centred around recordings for a long time, but making an album, is complex and requires many considerations. Martin Lumsden, head of the Cream Room Recording Studio, talks to the Music Workshop Company about life on the other side of the microphone, and offers invaluable advice for any music students who are developing their own sound. Read More.
Chinese New Year falls on the 8th of February in 2016. It is a public holiday marking the first day of the lunar calendar, so the date is different each year. The occasion centres around New Year’s Eve, the day of family reunions, and New Year’s Day, a day of close family visits and new year greetings, but celebrations often begin three weeks before. As we head into the Year of the Monkey, the Music Workshop Company takes a look at ancient Chinese music and the fantastic stories that accompany it. Read More.
There has long been discussion about the structure of secondary education. Recently this has centred around the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), a school performance indicator linked to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). As consultations reach their final stage, the Music Workshop Company spoke to Derin Adebiyi, Public Affairs Officer at The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) about the EBacc. Read More.
The Music Workshop Company team has grown this year with the addition of our wonderful new Social Media Assistant, Jenny Wright. Let’s meet Jenny and find out about her role…
The Music Workshop Company has found the annual Rhinegold Education Expo an invaluable source of information and inspiration. We catch up with Alex Stevens, Editor of Rhinegold’s flagship education publication, Music Teacher Magazine, as he shares his plans for the 2016 event.
Christmas Carols are totally evocative of an old-fashioned holiday season. We are familiar with many of the tunes from childhood. But the Christmas carol was not always so acceptable, or even religious. Read More.
Across the UK there are outstanding young musicians whose financial circumstances are a real barrier to achieving their full musical potential. Future Talent was founded in 2004 and has worked with and supported many talented young musicians from across the UK, helping them realise their dreams. Read More.
Leading educational travel company, NST, specialises in running concert tours, primarily for school children but also catering for adults. NST knows that the buzz musicians get from performing is unlike any other feeling, and the chance to perform in exciting international venues is even more of a thrill. We catch up with Sheena Orchin, Music Product Executive at NST, as she tells us about world travel, fantastic venues and what makes a great concert tour… Read More.
The Blues developed towards the end of the 19th Century. It was first heard among the African-American communities who farmed the plantations of the Delta, a flat plain between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, an area so characteristic of the Deep South that it has been called The Most Southern Place on Earth. Read More.
Specialist qualifications have become increasingly relevant to the job market, and to the music industry of the future. Degree courses have developed to prepare students for roles in the music industry. Read More.
One of the least assuming instruments of the orchestra has been forefront in the press recently, as virtuoso Dutch bassoonist Bram van Sambeek is featured promoting a dramatic campaign to save the bassoon. Read More.
As the Internet becomes ingrained into every aspect of life, Simon Hewitt Jones, Director of ViolinSchool, is exploring the potential of online learning. We catch up with Simon to ask how he sees the future of violin teaching… Read More.
Last month we looked at the relevance of classical music in education, following violinist, Nicola Benedetti’s comments about the value of introducing young people to subjects that they may at first find difficult. This month we look at the world of opera – a sticking point even for some music lovers. Read More.
Capture The Moment
One of the things we make sure to encourage in our workshops is the recording of every performance or workshop ... taking part in a performance is a big deal for many students and it is valuable to document their achievements, both for the students themselves and for the school. Read more
A Focus on Listening
In a recent interview by The Scotsman, world-renowned violinist, Nicola Benedetti, passionately criticised the suggestion that children should not be exposed to classical music. Read more
English Folk Dance - Swords, Sticks and Ribbons
There is a huge variety of dance associated with English folk music, some of it quite alien to modern culture. Folk music was either written as song or for dancing, and the dances have deep roots in the social history of England, as well as offering an insight into agriculture, industry and cultural diversity. Read more
All Change at AQA
Since the Rhinegold Expo back in March, Maria at the Music Workshop Company has been working to create a guest blog spot, to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the world of music education. Read all about it.....
Body Percussion - You Make the Music
Body percussion is a brilliant way to warm up for a music workshop, and a useful tool for creating music in a group. It is incredibly accessible; the human body is an instrument every participant possesses. It is also valuable for internalising fundamental musical concepts including rhythm, beat and tempo. Read all about it....
A Year in Music Education
We've had a positive and exciting time in 2014, working with new and previous clients, delivery some brand new bespoke workshops, and have thoroughly enjoyed facilitating a whole bunch of creativity and music making. Click here to read about our exciting year and the various projects we have been involved with.
Pass the Spoons
We love unusual instruments at the Music Workshop Company. This month’s blog is by professional percussionist and workshop leader Jo May, who specialises in workshops teaching the spoons. Read more...
Junk Percussion - recycling, design and music
Our junk percussion workshops create a space for learning all sorts of skills. Participants use every-day objects, many of which would otherwise end up in the rubbish or recycling bin, to build their own instruments, experiment with sound, compose music and prepare for a performance. Read more
Discovering North Africa
Our World Percussion Workshops at the Music Workshop Company introduce participants to music from around the globe. We include African Drumming and Samba techniques, which we have looked at in detail in previous blogs. Read our blog to discover the traditional sounds of North Africa and how we incorporate these into our workshops.
Latest news on the Protect Music Education campaign
Fantastic news! We've just heard that the Government has committed to supporting music education hubs with an extra £18m. We congratulate the enormous efforts of everyone involved in the Protect Music Education campaign, which we have been very pleased to support.
Supporting the Protect Music Education campaign
We are keen supporters of the Protect Music Education campaign, a drive launched in April by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) to rebuild Government support for music education.
The campaign focuses on 5 key points:
The Government must unequivocally support music education
The Government is telling local authorities to stop funding music services
Local authority funding is in addition to national funding
The flagship National Plan for Music Education is at risk
Music is central to society, education and economy
MWCs Maria Thomas says MWC’s Maria Thomas says "Music education enables young people to develop skills for life. Learning a musical instrument helps with reading skills and co-ordination as well as social skills such as presenting an idea and working in a team. Every young person should have the opportunity to learn an instrument or how to sing, and without support from local councils many young people will no longer have this chance. The Music Workshop Company fully supports the Protect Music Education campaign." You can read more about the campaign on our blog.
Play In a Day
The Music Workshop Company's 'Play in A Day' workshop is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in primary schools. The workshop utilises simple, effective pieces that are quick and easy to learn, which allows participants to perform to a high standard within the intensive one-day framework. These pieces are linked through dialogue into a play with music. Read more here.
Music Education Expo 2014
This was our second appearance at the Music Education Expo at The Barbican and the place was really buzzing this year. Thank you to all who came to visit us on the stand - we do really enjoy meeting new potential customers and of course catching up with current customers and friends. A big thank you to all those who signed up for our newsletter - watch out for the next one after the February half term break. You can read all about the Expo here in our latest Blog post.
Booking a Workshop and What to Expect
Booking a workshop but not sure what to ask for? This month we thought it would be helpful to share our ideas about what to look for in a workshop leader and to answer some simple questions about what to expect when booking a workshop with us. Read more here.
All About Samba
This month's blog is all about Samba - its origins and the variety of instruments and rhythms. Our Samba workshops are highly participative and full of fun and energy. If you've been considering a music workshop for your workplace team or your school or college, do have a read of our blog article to learn exactly what is involved. Read the article in full here.
Community Choir Workshop
The Music Workshop Company had a great day running a workshop with the Downham and Whitefoot Community Choirs recently in Bromley. The objective was to bring the two choirs together in a fun way and have the members experience something different to what they are used to by performing familiar songs in a different way and adding in some new ones too. The choir leader said "It was a fantastic experience and participants thoroughly enjoyed the session" and here we all are!
Black History Month
Black History Month is coming up in October and we have been busy creating some brand new workshops designed to explore the culture and history of the African people. Alongside the benefits of studying the history, learning about African and African-American music is a tremendous way for students to learn about the history of Classical, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Soul and Rock and Roll music, and to see its influences on modern Pop music. Click here to find out more about our workshops to support students' learning.
Stories and Symphonies in Stevenage
The Music Workshop Company joined forces with Stevenage Symphony Orchestra last month for an exciting composition project with three Hertfordshire primary schools. The orchestra, which is for amateur musicians in and around Hertfordshire, won a grant last year from the BBC Performing Arts Fund to commission the work, Legends of the Tor, from composer Alison Wrenn, and to fund workshops in local schools. Follow this link to read more about how we developed this exciting project.
Composition and Creativity at Newstead Wood
This month our blog is about a two-day composition workshop in Orpington, illustrating how the students are challenged and immersed in a fully creative way, at the same time increasing their confidence and developing their natural leadership skills. Click here to read more
Drumming is good for you!
African Drumming is one of our most popular workshops here at The Music Workshop Company. Workshops are based on traditional drumming circles creating a positive, inclusive space in which to explore the music and culture of Africa, boost self-confidence and develop key skills. Our workshops are suitable for everyone, from school children to big business and is a fantastic, fun team building exercise and sessions can be structured specifically to develop communication and performance skills, or to focus on African culture, rhythms and music. Learn more about the benefits of African Drumming.
Music Education Expo 2013
We had a really enjoyable and busy time at the Expo, meeting customers and friends and making lots of new contacts. To those who stopped by our stand, thank you! We couldn't do it without you.
Music Learning Live 13-14 March 2012
The Music Workshop Company has spent the last 2 days at Music Learning Live 2012. We had a great event and came away having met current and hopefully some new customers, as well as meeting new contacts in the industry, so well worth it.
The lucky winner of our Prize Draw was Bensham Manor School, who have won a Free Workshop of their choice. Congratulations! Everyone who entered and signed up for our mailing list is entitled to 10% discount on any workshop booked before the end of this academic year (2011/12).