Weekly music-making by 29 differentiated ensembles, the pilot of a music/maths programme, year six pupils working with the New London Orchestra and the introduction of live opera into 12 schools via a rolling 3-year project were particularly interesting features of Barnet’s submission, which wanted only for more detailed information.
The very small Blackburn & Darwen LEA started late with their wider opportunities programme, but could boast a long-established commitment, worth £30k, to music technology through the youth & community service and a similar Youth Music funded rock project, which addressed personal development issues as well as musical skills. It would have been interesting to learn the extent of take-up of the many INSET & CPD opportunities.
Bolton made a vigorous commitment to wider opportunities and introduced early years music activity cards as a resource for practitioners, which also proved to be popular with other music agencies. The engagement of the Hallé Orchestra as a “partner” and the decision to host the Sing for Pleasure national office also augur well for the future of this dynamic service.
One advisory teacher music and the Berks Young Musicians Trust provide a varied and interesting diet for the pupils and students of Bracknell Forest. A steady increase in ensemble participation rates was recorded; and some of the creative music project work, especially an all-age music theatre project, had understandable appeal. It is a pity that take-up of INSET courses was so very low.
Buckinghamshire County Music Service expanded their key stage 2 wider opportunities programmes from two to 12 schools and commissioned three interesting new works focusing on County music traditions that were not only performed at the Royal Albert Hall but also developed by 1500 key stage 2 pupils. The volume and range of regular ensemble activity was outstandingly good.
Camden Music Service, with an appetiser of a submission, reported the first year of a highly promising three-year residency with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, work with the English Pocket Opera, a Wigmore Hall composition project and a substantial number of singing initiatives. The multi-ethnicity of the borough was spectacularly exploited by the involvement of professional musicians representing European classical, opera, jazz, popular, classical Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Thai, East & West African, Caribbean and Somali music traditions!
Cumbria’s Learning Support Service embarked on some exciting ICT initiatives for key stages 2&3, which explored ways in which sounds can be altered using everyday objects, spaces and simple ICT resources. Online and CD-rom based materials were also being used to support ‘drum language’ skills drawn from a variety of African traditions. That work was combined with story-telling techniques, dance and song.
As well as excellent wider opportunities work with schools, Devon Music Service, which employs five “music development leaders” (rather than instrumental tutors), was responsible for a delightfully eclectic programme of projects throughout the year. These ranged from ukeleles, African drumming, string workshops, music theatre, big band and chamber jazz, Indian classical music & dance to gospel concerts & workshops, samba and community orchestras & choirs. The service is now committed to a radically new four-year strategy: in future, the Authority will no longer use public funds to subsidise the provision of instrumental music tuition. Yet the music service has been set some very demanding targets. We wish our colleagues well and look forward to encouraging progress reports in future years.
The Dorset, Bournemouth & Poole LEAs made a joint submission in the name of the Dorset music service. In a most unusual initiative, the Manche Department of Normandie funded 14 French students to participate as full members of the county youth orchestra. Rehearsals were held both sides of the channel, which assisted language development and experience of other cultures. Even more ground breaking, were two 10-day study visits to Colombia to give 40 instrumental teachers and managers opportunity to observe teaching and learning in Columbian schools and related music organisations. In turn, Dorset funded and organised visits by Columbian teachers to the South West region.
A small Authority serving a large area, Dumfries & Galloway Schools Music Service were responsible for a host of exciting initiatives, good practice and creative music making. If next year, the service is able to provide information about the numbers of instruments and tutors per instrument and sustain this level of achievement it will be difficult not to include it among the award winners.
With a population of 89,000, the East Renfrewshire Schools Instrument Service is part of one of the smallest education authorities ever to participate in this scheme. Yet in no sense has this inhibited development of a vital, innovative service. We were particularly impressed by the outcome of a seminar featuring a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda. The clarion call, “Don’t forget Rwanda” gave rise to “African Journey” – music, dance & drama involving all schools over a period of nine months culminating in a hugely successful public performance in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. The achievements of this dynamic service clearly owe much to a real commitment to INSET and CPD and weekly opportunities for ensemble and choral activity.
Gateshead’s Schools’ Music Service’s submission is probably the most European of those before us as evidenced by connections with Finland, France, Germany and Italy. We noted excellent wider opportunities work and support for curriculum delivery. All schools, but secondary schools particularly, benefited from a strengthened relationship with the Northern Sinfonia. The service’s attachment to 18th century repertoire and period instruments was maintained. A noticeable growth in World musics activity was recorded and the services provision for pupils with special needs was exemplary as was the commitment to INSET and CPD. Also praiseworthy was the extent to which the service’s ensembles performed a repertoire, some of which was original, of home grown composers. In short, another high class submission from Gateshead wanting only recognition of the validity of young people’s own popular music.
While in overall population terms the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are by no means the smallest LEA in the land, the school population of below 11,000 is very small. In the absence of a music service the Authority’s music strategy is delivered by a full-time music consultant and a freelance ICT/music consultant. Instrumental tutors are employed by the schools. The wider opportunities programme was established in six primary schools, soon to be followed by six more until all 26 primary schools are involved. For the first time all four secondary schools worked together on a creative instrumental/compositional project based on the diaries of Anne Frank with an external group of professional musicians. Such was its success that further collaborations are being developed.
The Liverpool Music Support Service initiated important music technology/ICT developments and by the appointment of a dynamic composer in residence has inspired a lot of compositional workshop activity.
Milton Keynes Music Service provide another example of the LEA making a significant contribution (£397,000) to funding on top of the various specific grants-in-aid. It came as no surprise to us that OfSTED should have reported so favourably on music in this Borough. There are so many praiseworthy features of this submission, not least the substantial investment in training, instrument purchase and the considerable number of ensemble performance opportunities and in most styles (though no evidence of jazz, which we assume was an oversight!).
North Ayrshire: the instrumental music service of this very small education authority has given us a submission of all-round excellence. Of particular note was the extent of the collaborations and partnerships with a very broad range of music organisations and music-based local arts and community organisation and the good practice represented by the provision for pupils with disabilities and/or special educational needs.
North Lanarkshire: once again a fine submission from this Authority wanting only some important detail of funding and instrument provision. That said, access to music service activities, including transportation to and from music centres, continues to be free of charge. Second to none where the delivery of rock and traditional music education are concerned, the Authority are now making a substantial investment in singing and string instruction.
North Somerset Music Service have decided to provide all hourly paid teachers with a PPA allowance which will put them on a par with all other teachers. Under the wider opportunities scheme 1230 key stage 2 pupils were receiving whole class instrumental lessons, indeed over 12% of the school population received weekly instrumental/vocal lessons. £67,500 was invested in instruments (including several ‘endangered species’) and musical equipment. High quality professional musicians were employed to run workshops. This was the first year in which the Authority made a significant financial contribution to the music service, and, needless to say this is apparent in both volume and quality terms.
Northamptonshire Music & Performing Arts Service received a very positive report from OfSTED. Indeed there is hardly an aspect of this Service’s work which is not outstanding. Had we been provided with the funding information requested this submission would have qualified comfortably for a Diploma.
Solihull Music Service was responsible for much high quality provision. Two projects in particular caught our attention. “Teaching Creativity and Teaching for Creativity” is an action research project involving 14 primary and special schools with an initial focus on music, drama, art & dance, but looking to see how the processes and thinking skills, explicit within the arts, can be transferred across the curriculum. The “Wider Horizons” special needs project is a joint enterprise with Walsall Music Service and Youth Music and involves weekly music workshops in the Borough’s five special schools. The schools have access to a series of 10-week themed units, concluding in a celebratory concert.
South Powys Youth Music (SYPM) was formed in 2003 by a group of committed teachers and parents and is funded directly from the Welsh Music Development Fund (MDF) to the tune of £12,000 and by a grant of £5000 from Laura Ashley. Powys County Council also receives an MDF grant but does not fund this music service or have one of their own. Those problems notwithstanding, SPYM have established a pre-school music group, a primary string project and course, junior choir, percussion group, brass and woodwind bands and an SPYM Jazz Band which was featured at the Brecon Jazz Festival. The long-standing SPYO was maintained. We pay tribute to the teachers and parents responsible for giving pupils those extra-curricular playing opportunities.
South Tyneside Music Service rightly trumpet their wider opportunities explosion as the biggest development in schools music for 40 years. Thus nearly 400 pupils in the primary sector were involved in two string orchestras, two brass bands, two wind bands and seven samba bands. And further expansion was planned for this year. This small music service was collaborating fruitfully with several high quality professional ensembles; and, jointly with the youth service, established a centre for popular music.
Wakefield Music Services focused on an investment in ‘endangered species’ instruments and wider opportunities expansion and at least one project linking the two. Regular and frequent group performance opportunities across most of the traditional styles abound. Inspiration in the form of an original percussion composition was drawn from ready access to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The aim was to help students understand the compositional process within a practical setting.
Warrington Music Service were active on the wider opportunities front. Not only was there a volume expansion in the primary schools, but arrangements were being implemented for instrumental tuition and studies to be continued into year seven. Plans were in train, jointly with the Manchester Camerata, to undertake a music technology project focusing on underachieving key stage 3 boys. They will seek to develop extended music technology skills by recording sounds at building sites and learning how to use them in order to create a composition. The evaluation will be shared with other LEAs; indeed this sort of joint working and sharing with other LEAs is a pleasing feature of Warrington’s policy and practice.
Wokingham contract with the Berkshire Young Musicians Trust to provide music teaching in schools and local music centres. Whole class teaching of either string or brass instruments and a Senegalese drumming project led by UK and African professionals were notable features of the wider opportunities programme. A Javanese gamelan residency, involving primary & secondary pupils and professional gamelan players was another highlight of the year.
York Music Service made a good start with their wider opportunities programme. This is a lively submission with no shortage of festivals of all kinds providing music-making windows; a good range of provision for adults and a varied and good quality INSET & CPD culture which is well and truly embedded throughout the service. For such a small LEA, the Council grant of £252,000 demonstrates a creditable commitment to music education.
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