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.
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To contribute as a guest writer please email Maria AT music-workshop.co.uk
The Music Workshop chats to Matt Parry, creator of The Opus Pocus on how to get kids to discover the magic of classical music…
“What is out there to help kids discover classical music? Especially at the moment with dedicated performances, workshops and group lessons so frustratingly put on hold? Of course you can just play this music to children, but getting them to listen to an entire symphony, for example, can be a bit tricky given its length and complexity. This was actually the driving motivation behind creating The Opus Pocus." Read more.
The ongoing lockdown has pushed many music teachers to move their teaching online. But for one pioneering violin teaching business, online teaching is nothing new. Simon Hewitt Jones, Director at ViolinSchool, which launched as an online violin teaching school in 2012, says:
"As we move forward into September 2020 and beyond, ViolinSchool will be leveraging the power of digital technology more than ever before. I believe that the pandemic has stripped away much of the mystique that perhaps surrounds instrumental tuition." Read more.
Jazz standards are musical compositions that form a fundamental part of the repertoire and language of jazz. They are often performed and recorded, and are therefore widely known to listeners. They are also used within education to introduce key musical concepts such as certain chord progressions and modes.Most of the compositions that become standards have their roots in popular culture. Read more.
Current events in America have shocked and angered the world. The distressing murder of George Floyd and the subsequent riots have dragged us from the torpor of lockdown and made us think about what we can do on a wider scale. Along with many music and education organisations, we at MWC are taking this as a wake up call to educate ourselves about race issues and improve diversity in our organisation. Read more.
This month, we thought it would be fun to share some ideas from our own Early Years Resources.
These games are aimed at young children, and are for parents who may be struggling to keep their toddlers busy. They can also be used with primary-age children, and even played with the whole family. We hope you enjoy them!
This month’s guest blog is from a new initiative called EMERGE(NCY) PARTY which launches at the beginning of May. The initiative is aimed at asking young people how the world could change for the better after the Covid-19 crisis. It gives young people a voice in the crisis, to protest, to share and to celebrate – an opportunity to imagine and explore a better future through art. Read more.
At a time when more families are engaged in home learning, the MWC team wanted to share online resources that might be useful over the coming months…
General advice on Home Learning
Home Learning UK are sharing their expertise – https://homelearninguk.weebly.com/
Need inspiration for some new songs? Check out Sing Up who are currently offering free resources – https://www.singup.org/home-schooling.
World Poetry Day fell on March 21st 2020. The annual celebration, which was adopted by UNESCO in 1999, is an opportunity to revive oral traditions, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, and foster the convergence between poetry and other arts, including music. Poetry can act as a uniting force, expressing common human experiences – a vital force for connection in difficult times – and so UNESCO extends the invitation to everyone to take part. Read more.
The BBC have launched this year’s BBC Young Composer competition, the annual competition is open to composers aged between 12 and 18 from across the UK. Winners take part in a development programme and work with a mentor composer on a composition for the BBC Concert Orchestra, to be performed at the BBC Proms in 2021 in a special young composers concert. The closing date for entries to the competition is 5pm on Thursday 11 June 2020.
The competition boasts an illustrious list of former winners including Shiva Feshareki, Kate Whitley, Tom Harrold, Alissa Firsova, Mark Simpson, Toby Young, Lloyd Coleman and Duncan Ward. Read more.
1920 was a busy year for Stravinsky and Diaghilev with the premiere of the ballet Le Chant du Roissignol on 2nd February and the premiere of Pulcinella on 15th May.
Stravinsky first worked with Diaghilev on L’Oiseau de Feu (The Firebird) in 1910. The work is of interest both as Stravinsky’s breakthrough piece and as the beginning of one of the most well known collaborations in the ballet world. Read more
The National Trust was founded on the 12th January 1895 by Octavia Hill, Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley. As the Trust reaches its 125th birthday, we share its celebration of famous British composers and the work it does to inspire a new generation.
Leith Hill Place – Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Firs – Edward Elgar
575 Wandsworth Road – Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian
December 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
The event seems to have split the Classical Music community. Some individuals and organisations see the occasion as an opportunity to celebrate Beethoven’s musical achievements. Others suggest that Beethoven’s music is popular enough and performances and recordings of it are already so plentiful that audiences should be exploring new repertoire and lesser known composers, and particularly work by underrepresented groups. Read more
On 18th December 1892, Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker was premiered at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Although the ballet is now popular throughout the world, the premiere was not well received, with popularity only coming after Tchaikovsky worked the music into a Suite. Following the success of Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky was looking for inspiration for his next ballet and a gift of a new Russian translation of E.T.A Hoffmann’s story Nussknacker und Mausekönig gave him a story he could work with. Read more
On 20th November, UK Music, the campaigning and lobbying group, which represents every part of the UK Recorded and Live Music Industry, launched it’s Music by Num8ers 2019 report. Each year, the UK Music report shines a light on the value and contributions made by the music industry. This year the report highlights the £5.2 billion contribution to the UK Economy that the music industry makes, with 190,935 full time jobs being sustained by the industry, up from 145,815 the previous year. Read more
Earlier this month, the Durham Commission published its final report following a two-year review of Creativity in Education. The Commission is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Durham University. It aims to identify ways in which creativity, and specifically creative thinking, can play a larger part in the lives of young people from birth to the age of 19, both within and beyond the current education system. Read More
November 2019 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Leopold Mozart (November 14, 1719 – May 28, 1787). Perhaps often primarily known as the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leopold is an almost mythical figure, equated, perhaps partly thanks to the blockbuster film Amadeus, with a stern and conflicted father/son relationship.
Another interpretation is that Leopold, who had supported his child prodigy son for many years, was concerned as Wolfgang pushed for more independence that his son was unfit to look after himself – a worry which proved to be grounded in reality. Read more.
On 1st October 2019, Sound and Music announced the findings of their National Music Educators’ Survey, Can Compose. The report, which is based on responses from over 500 educators, is the first of it’s kind to look specifically at creativity and composers.
Sound and Music believe that composing should be a core element of every child’s music education – and 97% of their respondents agreed. Read more.
"I am first black British artist to headline Glastonbury. At 25 years old I am the second youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24 year old David Bowie in 1971."
The words of Stormzy as he headlined Glastonbury in June 2019. Some people questioned the announcement that Stormzy was to take the coveted Headliner slot at the festival. Read more
Figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications on 22nd August, as GCSE results were announced, showed that although applicants for GCSE Art and Design and Performing Arts increased, overall, the number of students taking GCSEs in Creative subjects, (defined as define arts subjects as Art & Design, Dance, Design & Technology, Drama, Media/Film/TV Studies, Music and Performing/expressive arts), has decreased. Read more.
Clara Wieck was born in Leipzig in September 1819. Although for decades she has been predominantly known as the ‘wife of Robert Schumann,’ her contribution to music as a performer, composer and inspiration was immense. As a woman in a male-dominated world, she gives us a fascinating glimpse into creative relationships, and perhaps a sense of what other women could and did achieve, despite the familiar list of traditionally male historic composers. Read more.
This month MWC’s Artistic Director Maria Thomas takes inspiration from the ROH Bridge’s annual conference, The Thriving Child… On the 28thJune, the ROH Bridge held their annual conference, The Thriving Child. This year, back at the Royal Opera House following the renovation of the Linbury Theatre, the conference was streamed across the country with people joining from the Lowry in Salford, West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, the Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham, the Curve Theatre in Leicester and Ocean Studios in Portsmouth. Read more.
August 2019 marks 50 years since Woodstock ’69, the ‘most popular event in music history.’
Held between August 15 and 19 1969, Woodstock took place at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. The festival, which was billed as ‘An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music’ drew crowds of more than 400,000 people who heard 32 acts performing open-air gigs, sometimes playing through the rain. Described by singer songwriter, Joni Mitchell as, “A spark of beauty” where half-a-million kids “saw that they were part of a greater organism”, Woodstock has long been regarded as a pivotal movement in both popular music history and within the larger counterculture generation. Read more.
In this blog, Maria shares her thoughts about the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Music Education.
The APPG for Music Education meeting took place on Wednesday 19th June at the Palace of Westminster. The event was Chaired by Diana Johnson, MP for Kingston upon Hull North and Chair and Registered Contact of the APPG. In attendance were a wide range of people engaged with music education, from MPs to Music Hub heads, Conservatoire heads, music organisations, and small charities that support young people. Read more.
Electronic music is music that employs electronic and digital musical instruments and circuitry-based music technology. Pure electronic instruments like synthesisers, computers and the theremin have no sound producing mechanisms like strings or hammers, but electronic compositions also include electro-acoustic elements.Electronic music began as early as 1913 with Luigi Russolo’s conceptualisation of the genre and development of prototype synthesisers. Read more.
The Sound of the Next Generation is a new research report by Youth Music and Ipsos MORI. It gives insights into the wide range of ways in which young people engage with and value music and music making. But does it offer any new answers?
Youth Music’s research was carried out in 2018 by means of online surveys. 1,001 young people aged between 7 and 17 from across England participated. The results were analysed by industry leaders, psychologists and academics in order to evaluate the findings in the wider context of music in society. Read more.
June 11 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Helen Tobias-Duesberg. Tobias-Duesberg produced a large and varied body of work. She was respected by her contemporaries and her work was regularly performed, yet few recordings exist and her name is not familiar. It would be easy to draw the obvious conclusion that this is because of her gender. The contribution of so many talented and successful women in the Arts has been marginalised. Read more.
From October 2018 to January 2019, Arts Council, England (ACE) held an open consultation across the country designed to listen to perspectives from across the sector and beyond. The aim of the study was to understand the challenges and opportunities, generate new ideas, and problem-solve together. The results of this report will inform the development of ACE strategy for the next ten years. Read more.
March 2019 is the 150th ‘birthday’ of Henry Wood, and April 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Hallé. Both men left a lasting musical legacy integral to the orchestral world in the UK. But where did they come from and what inspired their achievements? In this ‘double bill’ we celebrate the lives of two great musicians ... Read more.
The National Youth Folk Ensemble was set up in 2016 by the English Folk Dance & Song Society to provide a progression route for talented young folk musicians. Ensemble members experience intensive residential courses where they create new arrangements of folk tunes, guided by inaugural Artistic Director Sam Sweeney and a team of leading folk artists..... Read more.
On the 19th March 2019, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) published their Live Music Report. Drawn together following interviews and reviews of material from the media and other sources the report covers 4 key areas: The Live Music success story; Problems in the ticketing market; Challenges facing music venues and Threats to the talent pipeline ...Read more.
MyMusicPB.com is an interactive resource for music teachers, music services and music students that offers a way for teachers to stay organised, up to date and compliant with European data laws while motivating pupils of all ages. Its intuitive interface is free for teachers to use. The Music Workshop Company speaks to MyMusicPB’s creator, Phillip Brunton ... Read more.
Music holds an important place in Welsh national identity – so much so that Wales is traditionally referred to as the ‘Land of Song’. However, despite the positive implications this moniker has in terms of the Welsh affinity with music, this is actually a modern stereotype based on the importance of 19th century choral music and 20th century male voice choirs, and in some ways it clouds a long and unique musical and social history... Read more.
In this month’s guest blog, The Music Workshop Company talks to composer Steven Coltart about his work writing and producing the score for Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier.
Steven has worked extensively across film, games and television, but Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier provided a hitherto unique opportunity for him… Read more.
The Eduqas A-level music syllabus includes study of Western Classical music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This was a period of change and emancipation. No single composer led the way in terms of style, and artistic creativity was expressed with compositional devices including explorations in instrumental sonority and harmony, including increased use of dissonance and chromaticism.Nationalism, the use of cultural and patriotic references including the integration of elements of folk songs and folklore (often as programmatic forms and ideas) became an important feature. Read More.
Musical Theatre, or ‘Music for Theatre’ is a diverse topic, and the variety and quality it offers ensures its place in the exam board syllabus. Both the AQA and Eduqas at A-Level curriculums give Musical Theatre equal weight to hefty genres like the western classical tradition and jazz.
One composer common to both syllabuses is Richard Rogers (June 28, 1902 – December 30, 1979). Rogers wrote 43 Broadway musicals and more than 900 songs, and is recognised as one of the most significant composers of 20th century American music. His work has had a significant impact on musical theatre and popular music, and 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of his ground-breaking musical Oklahoma! Read More.
On Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd November 2018, Kenilworth welcomed music educators from across the country to Music Mark’s 2018 annual conference to discuss the theme of “Youth Voice.” MWC’s Maria Thomas was there…
With sessions on topics such as Whose Music Education is it?, Trust the music – connection with young audiences, Youth Governance, Ensembles and young people, and Reaching out to Young People – Shake up your marketing and communications strategy, one key message was engaging young people in the music education discussion. Read More.
2018 is the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The narrative follows a voyage to Jupiter with a sentient computer called HAL. It explores themes of human evolution, technology, existentialism, artificial intelligence and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The film features scientifically accurate depictions of spaceflight, ambitious imagery and groundbreaking special effects. Read More.
A recent University of Sussex survey of 500 schools in England shows a worrying picture for music in schools. The findings, released at the beginning of October, show that staffing levels in music departments have fallen in nearly 36% of schools, with 70% of surviving music specialists required to teach outside their subject to fill gaps. Of the schools surveyed, 18% do not offer GCSE music at all. Read More.
A new survey by YouGov, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), shows video games as an important access point for young people to experience classical music.
The research, which included children aged six to 16, found that 15% said they listen to classical music “when it’s part of a computer game I’m playing”, while only 11% said “when I go to music concerts”. Read More.
Friday 28th September was BBC Music Day. Women’s Hour celebrated by revealing their list of the 40 most influential women in music.
Three out of the top five women are top selling artists, with Adele at #4, Taylor Swift at #2 and Beyonce at #1, but the list also celebrates the contributions of women who work behind the scenes. Read More.
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died in August 2018 at the age of 76. With her death, among the musical tributes, came a rush of tabloid-style headlines about the notoriously private singer. Read More.
It’s a question that comes up seemingly annually, often around the BBC Proms Season, it’s confusing and even controversial in classical music: when it the “correct” time to clap? The Music Workshop Company’s Founder and Artistic Director, Maria Thomas, shares her feelings about applause and its impact on the concert experience. Read more.
Two Hackney-based theatre companies are joining forces for the second year running this summer to host a free carnival-themed drama project for young adults with learning disabilities or autism. Hackney Shed and Access All Areas are each hosting workshops across the summer, with participants then having a chance to perform at the borough’s carnival in September.The Hackney Carnival Collective, which is aimed at Hackney-based 16 to 25-year-olds, proved a huge hit last year. Read more.
Summer 2018 marks the centenary of the amazing musician Leonard Bernstein who was born on 25th August 1918. Bernstein was a composer, conductor, author, educator and pianist, perhaps best known for what some consider the greatest of all American musicals: West Side Story. Read more.
Silverbirch Dance is an inclusive dance company based in Hertfordshire, UK. Founded in 2002 by Suzie Birchwood under the premise that anybody and ‘any body’ can dance, the company aims, through a programme of performances, workshops and projects for schools, colleges, local authorities and community groups, to enable people to explore the creative possibilities in their own bodies and imaginations in a safe and supportive environment. Read more.
Applications are open for a music award that supports young musicians from South East London. Designed for artists between 16 and 25 years old who display musical talent, performance skills, business acumen and are passionate about forging a successful career, the Ed Renshaw Award was set up in 2012 in memory of an accomplished young guitarist who tragically took his own life aged just 30.
This month, the Music Workshop Company wants to highlight the campaign started by Nicholas Daniel and his fellow winners of the BBC Young Musician of Year.
On 13th May, 20 winners of the competition wrote an open letter to the Guardian stating,
"We are all deeply concerned that instrumental music learning is being left to decay in many British schools to the point that it could seriously damage the future of music here and jeopardise British music’s hard won worldwide reputation." Read more.
"Composer: A person who writes music especially as a professional occupation"
The history of music is rich with composers, experimental, creative, daring, dashing, often with fascinating personal lives, and each still receiving regular concert billing. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Ives, Britten – in 2015, music exam board Edexcel featured 63 such composers in its A-Level syllabus.
In 2015, however, it was also pointed out via a change.org petition set up by student Jessy McCabe, that the syllabus was notably missing the inclusion of a single female composer.
There’s a big change imminent in data law that’s been putting big business in a spin for months. However, many small organisations and individuals may not even be aware of it.
On May 25th, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace existing data laws. The GDPR is largely designed to bring data protection up to date with advances in data analysis and storage and the way that technology is used to sell us things. It’s designed to protect the rights and privacy of internet users in a much more relevant way, given advances in the integration of ‘online’ into every day life. Read More.
While planning a recent singing workshop, MWC’s Artistic Director, Maria, had cause to reflect on the names and lyrics of songs, how the meaning of some words has changed, becoming sensitive, controversial or unacceptable, and how some aspects of music might impact workshop participants.
Looking into the topic more deeply, Maria discovered examples that have created debate in the past and asked, so how should we teach these songs in schools, youth groups, holiday clubs and other community groups? Read More.
We’ve been supporting Bacc for the Future – the brainchild of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). We spoke to the ISM’s Jessica Salter to find out how the campaign is progressing:
“Bacc for the Future calls for creative subjects to be included in EBacc and ABacc league tables, or for these qualifications to be replaced by a more rounded option. The campaign began in 2011 when the EBacc was first imposed. It’s now supported by more than 30,000 individuals and 200 creative organisations."
Achille Claude Debussy, or Claude Debussy as he’s usually known, was, along with Maurice Ravel, the most prominent French composer of classical music associated with Impressionism. Born in 1862, he died on March 25th, 1918, making this year the centenary of his death. His music is still incredibly popular, and ‘centenary’ recordings are trending in the classical music charts.
"I am trying to do ‘something different’ — in a way realities — what the imbeciles call ‘impressionism’ is a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics."
Acclaimed for the high quality of its operatic performances, Opera North also boasts one of the country’s finest orchestras. The Orchestra of Opera North plays at each of the Company’s operas and regularly performs at concerts in the region. An important, and enjoyable, additional strand of its work however, is ensuring that the next generation of young musicians are given valuable support, guidance and inspiration as they build on their playing expertise.
This month, the team at Opera North share their vision with MWC… Read More.
The feast of Saint David, patron saint of Wales, falls on March 1st, the date of his death in 589 AD. Saint David’s Day has been regularly celebrated since his canonisation in the 12th century.
Wales holds a special place in our hearts here at the Music Workshop Company; firstly because it’s the home nation of founder and Artistic Director, Maria, and secondly because of its apt and joyful reputation as “Land of Song”. Read More.
Music for my Mind is a new charity which seeks to provide evidence that personalised music enhances the lives of people living with dementia. The Music Workshop Company speaks to Project Assistant, Dimana Georgieva, to find out about the study, its potential impact and how it’s being funded. Read More.
Last term MWC launched our new Spotify playlists. We will be adding more throughout the year but wanted to introduce you to some of the new listening resources that we have recently shared and offer you the chance to contribute ideas and requests. Read More.
The MWC blog is written and edited throughout the year by our in-house journalist, Johanna McWeeney. Outside of writing, Johanna’s main focus is as second violinist with the Santiago Quartet. The Quartet is set to release its second album, Language of the Heart on March 9th, 2018. Read more.
December 10th 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of soul singer Otis Redding’s death in a plane crash at the age of just 26.
Just three days earlier, Redding had recorded what was to become his biggest hit. He knew the song would be huge – he remarked to his manager,
"I got it. This is my first million seller."
This month, we look at the Music Industry in the UK thanks to UK Music and their Measuring Music 2017 and Wish You Were Here 2017 reports. Each year, UK Music produce a report giving an overview of the UK Music Industry, exploring factors such as the value of the Music Industry and where revenues are being generated. It’s an exciting time for the UK Music Industry with a 6% growth in Total Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution in 2016, a total of £4.4 billion. Read more.
This month marks the 65th Anniversary of the UK music charts. As teenagers, many of us would anxiously await the chart radio shows, hovering over the cassette recorder to capture our favourite songs. Today, the charts give a fascinating insight into the changes in the Music Industry since 1952, both in terms of musical styles and tastes, and in the way music is ‘consumed’.
The move from records -45s and albums- to cassette tapes and CDs through to downloads and streaming have impacted the way the charts are calculated. Over its history the UK Official Charts have developed and adapted to changing music demands. In fact, interest in the history of music production has brought many music fans full circle, with LPs and cassettes seeing a resurgence in popularity – a backlash against the culture of obsolescence and ‘mainstream. Read more.
The Horniman is an award-winning, family-friendly Museum and Gardens in south London’s Forest Hill. Established in Victorian times when tea trader and philanthropist Frederick Horniman first opened his house and collection of objects to visitors, the Museum is currently undergoing a major three-year development of its gallery spaces.
As part of this project, the Horniman’s world-renowned Anthropology collection will be redisplayed to create the World Gallery: A special space designed to encourage a wide appreciation, curiosity and celebration of the world, its people, places and cultures. The Horniman’s Charlotte Stanley talks to the Music Workshop Company about the significance of the new gallery… Read more.
Although the deadline for applying to conservatoires and music colleges has passed, the closing date for university applications through UCAS (UCAS.com) is the 15th January 2018.
This gives plenty of time for potential applicants to consider whether they want to study at university, and if so, which university and which course best suits them. UCAS offer 1,763 courses with ‘music’ in the title. These range from BMus(Hons) and BA(Hons) in Music to courses in Music Production, Songwriting, Music Performance, Community Music, Music Psychology, Music Technology, Music Composition, Music Business, Musical Theatre, Commercial Music, Digital Music, Popular Music, Sound Design, Composition for Film & Games and Music Industry Management… Read more.
The Chineke! Foundation was established in 2015: it’s mission, to provide career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. At a time when much of the news around classical music focused on laurel ts, elitism and the problems of engaging young people in a ‘difficult genre’, the organisation has stepped forward with inspiring energy.
Chineke!’s message is of real importance to young BME musicians. For these students, the orchestra offers more than the traditional outreach: It offers role models. Read more.
Western classical music, by its very definition, is rooted in the sacred and secular traditions of the western world, centred around Europe. Although the genre has been influenced throughout history by folk song, jazz and music from other continents such as America and China, it rarely diverges far from its Western identity.
Much like Western music outside the ‘classical’ box, African music is incredibly diverse, varying greatly by region. There is lots of opportunity for creative inspiration. Read more.
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.
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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).