At last week's Federation of Music Services conference, education consultant, David Price OBE, talked enthusiastically about the ways to engage more young people in music education. The current thinking is to do more around the music that interests and excites young people.
Web 2.0 has brought web-based interactivity that allows participation and instant responses and sharing. The popularity of Facebook, Bebo and even MySpace has exploded into a world-wide on-line community which can share instantly. David argued that local music services (and therefore the local authorities which usually govern them) which continue to drag their feet on web 2.0 style social networking as a tool for delivering education will continue to haemorrhage people from music.
I just wanted to remind Yamaha Education Friends members that you can all have a community like this, which is interactive, where you and your pupils can share ideas, music, homework, etc; where you can set levels of privacy to protect the community from unwanted outsiders.
It's called 'Webjam'. It's free to set up and you can do it by clicking on the 'Create New Webjam' button at the top of the screen! Please let us know if you have already done this or are thinking about it.
I attended a very exciting FMS conference last week in Leeds, where I was bowled over by the wealth of new thinking and energy that pervades so many areas of music education in the UK at the moment.
There Lord Adonis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools and Learners, announced the proposed launch of an English version of the acclaimed orchestral music project from Venezuela, 'El Sistema', which over 33 years has helped 0.5m children out of poverty and produced the wonderful Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, seen at the 2007 UK Proms.Richard Holloway is very enthusiastic about Scotland's El Sistema project in Stirling and now educators in England are getting very excited about the English version, to be called 'In Harmony'. Led by Julian Lloyd Webber, In Harmony's steering committee will announce this Summer how the English version will work and will invite tenders for running projects.
Tell us what you think. Do you have plans for a project?
Well, after lots of preparation, the day arrived and Yamaha, along with representatives from the whole of the UK music industry, had geared up for Education Day at the brand new London International Music Show in London's Docklands.
Students and their teachers were treated to a broad range of experiences from Yamaha, including displays and demonstrations of Yamaha's world-beating instruments and equipment from orchestral to rock instruments, from concert grand pianos to the much loved digital Clavinova pianos, from synths to the brand new 21st century instrument, the Tenori-On!
Yamaha ran some superb workshops for drum kit beginners, led by Yamaha Music School teacher trainer, Kew West. We collaborated with the European String Teachers' Association in their wonderful presentation of Yamaha electric strings, led by Sarah Drury. We also supported our colleagues, the Associated Board, lending them a top-of-the-range stage piano for their workshop on improvisation, led by Pete Churchill.
I met lots of educators and would like to thank all of you for taking the time to visit me on the Yamaha stand. Please take some time once a week to glance through this site and post your comments, requests, ideas and links to great teaching resources. I hope to see you again soon!
I've just returned from an inspiring presentation on 'Brain-Based Learning', which Trevor Hawes - a leading UK expert on teaching and the learning brain - gave to a group of instrumental teachers, primary class teachers and others, hosted by Doncaster Music Service in partnership with Music Leader.
Good primary teachers throughout the UK are already accommodating different learning styles. When Trevor explained the brain's ideal conditions for learning and what inhibits learning, it became clear that the current organisation of teaching time, space and focus is often unhelpful for a significant number of children. Armed also with an understanding of how each individual has different strengths and therefore different learning needs, it was easy to understand why new approaches which respond to this understanding are more likely to achieve success for more pupils.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who is using this kind of thinking in their teaching - either in classroom music or in instrumental lessons. What does a brain-based approach in music education look like? Please respond here or post in the Forums.
Doncaster College, which runs a highly successful music and technology degree course, is running its conference, 'Music & Sound Technology in Education', in July.
Yamaha's Music Production section will be there on Mon 7th & Tue 8th July to run morning demonstrations covering key pieces of equipment and instruments that will be of interest to educators. In the afternoons we will run a workshop for a maximum of 20 teachers on recording using the Pocketrak 2G mp3 recording device. After some basic instruction, teachers will be lent a Pocketrak and sent off to record something before transferring the recordings on to the college's Mac computers for editing - again all under expert supervision.
On each day one winning recording will be selected by Yamaha staff and its creator will be given the Pocketrak to take home as a prize!
The Pocketrak is an ideal tool for recording live performance, speech, interviews, podcast creation and gathering audio evidence for pupil assessment in the classroom - in music and across the curriculum.
Click here for more details of the conference.
On June 13th the fledgeling London International Music Show - now arguably the major music trade show in the UK - holds its Education Day. Yamaha will be running drum taster sessions for beginners of all ages on a first-come-first-served basis. Teachers and children (aged 9+) will be taught some simple drum patterns and techniques featuring Yamaha's groundbreaking DTX electronic drum kits and practice pads. The session will end with playing along to a CD - and all that in less than 30 minutes!
For those considering whole-class drum kit tuition as part of wider opportunities, the group teaching model we use for drum kit is highly effective and enormous fun for the participants. Spectators are welcome too but we hope you'll come along and have a go.
Click here to register for LIMS' Education Day.
Last night I went to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to see one of my jazz piano heroes, McCoy Tyner, and his quartet in concert. Following the September 2007 release of his album, 'Quartet', the concert showed Tyner as the master of modal jazz, with some superb numbers from 'Quartet', like 'Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit' and 'Mellow Minor'.
For teachers wanting to enthuse their students in jazz - especially at secondary level - material like this very approachable and highly recommended. It is not difficult to transcribe the 'head' and the chord changes don't come too rapidly so beginners can really concentrate on structuring and building their solos, rather than worrying overmuch about integrating lots of different scale types.
With the revisions to music in the National Curriculum at KS3 in England & Wales - which kick in in September 2008 - there is increased emphasis on demonstrable skills as an outcome. Improvisation continues to be any area that teachers request help with and which also gets a special mention in the new curriculum document.
Yamaha is now developing ideas for some wide-ranging activities specifically for secondary level. One possible project would be based around the idea of a jazz piano trio or a rhythm section. Students (from around grade 4 standard and higher) and teachers would be able to attend workshops to kick-start work in this exciting but challenging area, with a national event to follow.
If this is something that would interest you as a project in your school, please tell us here and explain what you would like to get from it, both for your personal development and for your pupils and state which age groups you think would benefit most from it.
Entries are now being sought from 14-19 year-old songwriters for the 2008 Make It Break it songwriting awards. The MIBIs, run by the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and Yamaha Music, are unique in providing a high profile professional platform to promote outstanding material from some of the UK's hottest, innovative, up coming writers.
With a panel of judges chaired by Coldplay's Chris Martin and including broadcaster Mark Radcliffe, producer Steve Levine and The Wombats, and with prizes for both the writers and their schools and colleges, The MIBIs provide a fantastic opportunity to get original songs heard and championed by leading music industry big hitters.
As well as receiving thousands of pounds worth of musical equipment, this year’s winners will be offered recording sessions in the world famous Parr Street recording studios, and a November showcase gig in the Paul McCartney auditorium at LIPA. All short-listed finalists will also be invited to an intensive 3-day training programme where they will be tutored in songwriting, marketing, production and performance, by some of the country’s leading practitioners.
Entries should be submitted by June 30th and full details will be available from www.makeitbreakit.org. The site also provides hints and tips from the judges and material from previous winners.
Click here for the MIBI MySpace profile.