Music education on the Westminster agenda
Posted on 31st July 2023 at 11:41
Photo: Adrian Pingstone, used under Creative Commons licence
This month the Music Workshop Company’s Artistic Director, Maria Thomas, reports back from two key music events – the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Music Education and the UK Music Summer Party. Both are key for highlighting to MPs the great work of the music industry and the importance of music education.
APPG for Music Education
On Monday 17th July, the APPG for Music Education met via Zoom. The event featured three keynote speakers:
Veronica Wadley CBE, Baroness Fleet,
Adam Whittaker, Head of Pedagogy at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire,
and Stuart Whatmore, Head of Tri-Borough Music Hub (TBMH).
Baroness Fleet recently chaired the expert panel which informed the government’s National Plan for Music Education, The power of music to change lives, and currently chairs the London Music Fund. She will be the Chair of the new music education monitoring board, which has been established to oversee the progress made in the delivery of the commitments in the National Plan. She highlighted the importance of schools and Music Hubs to delivering music education: to include all young people singing, playing instruments, composing and enjoying music as well as being aware of, and having access to, pathways for further study and into careers. She reminded everyone of the New Model Music Curriculum, which includes case studies of good practice.
Baroness Fleet encouraged hubs to use the funding available to leverage additional funds including money from local councils to enhance their work. She also stressed the importance of support from Head Teachers in delivering quality music education in schools.
The Music Progression Fund will make £2m available to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to support their learning.
Dr Adam Whittaker raised the widely different offers currently available in different constituencies: for example, some young people have free whole class lessons for a term, others for a year. Some young people have access to a free musical instrument they can take home; others can only use the instruments in school. Some have whole class lessons that are completely free; others require financial contributions from parents.
He also discussed the challenge of the impact of the Senior Leadership Team’s views of music on what is delivered and how music is viewed in school – from a valuable part of the curriculum to an activity that enables staff to take PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time.
Dr Whittaker talked about the confusion that can arise when discussing music education and the different offers from schools and from the hubs. He reminded attendees that hubs are there to enhance the curriculum, not to deliver it in its entirety. This can be linked to the point that music education is more than just learning an instrument.
He shared research showing that the number of young people learning an instrument is increasing, but the number of young people studying instruments to a high level is decreasing. However, there is a growth in young people who have private music lessons taking grade 7 and 8 exams. This raises concerns that only those who can afford private tuition can progress to the higher grades.
Photo: Wolfman, used under Creative Commons licence
Stuart Whattmore gave an overview of the work the Tri-Borough Music Hub does across three West London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and the City of Westminster. He highlighted the importance of working in partnership and the value of 50/50 partnerships.
Stuart raised the challenges facing hubs, including the limited time available for forming new partnerships and developing a strategic plan before the submission deadline of October, in the wider context of the issues music hubs have faced over recent years, particularly due to COVID.
He highlighted the ’Music Makes Me’ project that culminated in a performance at the Royal Albert Hall. The Tri-Borough Music Hub worked with key delivery partners the Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, English National Opera, Cultural Inclusion Manifesto, The Rhythm Studio, JK Cartoon Studios as well as the three local authorities that they work with. More details can be found at: https://www.triboroughmusichub.org/school-services/music-makes-me/
UK Music Summer Party
On Wednesday 19th July, the UK Music Summer Party took place at the IET London. This annual event is an opportunity for the Music Industry to network and meet politicians – billed as ‘Westminster meets Glastonbury’. Music education was on the agenda for the speakers, who included UK Music’s Chair Tom Watson, its Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, and MPs Caroline Dinenage, Lucy Powell and Kevin Brennan. Their speeches highlighted the importance of a pipeline for the industry and access to pathways into music.
The event also celebrated the launch of UK Music’s latest report, entitled Here, There and Everywhere, which demonstrates the value of music tourism to the UK. Key data shows that in 2022, the first full year of post-pandemic music events in the UK:
14.4 million music tourists attended live music events across the country.
The UK saw a total of 1.1m foreign music tourists, and 13.3m domestic music tourists.
Music tourism spending was £6.6 billion.
56,000 jobs were sustained by music tourism across the year.
These figures show a resurgence of live music across the year, and underline the importance of live music for the country's economy. The report makes a number of recommendations for helping to strengthen this position, from ensuring music is at the heart of local planning and licensing policies, to enshrining music as part of regeneration plans for local areas.
Of course, as the event's speakers made clear, for the live music industry to thrive in future there must be opportunities for people to develop careers in the sector. Music education has a vital role in helping young people to take their first steps in the music industry, and political support to address the challenges raised at these two events is a must.
The full UK Music report is available at: https://www.ukmusic.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Here-There-and-Everywhere-2023-UK-Music.pdf
You can find out more about the APPG on Music Education at https://www.musiceducationappg.org/
Tagged as: MUSIC AND POLITICS, MUSIC EDUCATION, MUSIC INDUSTRY, MUSIC INDUSTRY REPORT, UK MUSIC INDUSTRY
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