Well, another year seems to have rushed by and I find myself attempting to get down thoughts. I think many in positions such as mine are always thinking about what is to come. Inevitably, musicians are currently thinking about 29th March and what might happen to our ability to travel for work in Europe. It is a daunting prospect to know that we may lose out on work simply because other musicians from EU countries will not need visa applications.
I don’t want to talk in detail about Brexit though. I’m more concerned about what we are doing about music education right here at home – and that has nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with how we value a rounded education. Rather depressingly, a high proportion of secondary schools in my local area have stopped offering music as a GCSE option. Music is still part of the National Curriculum and must be taught up to year 9, but sadly beyond that provision is being cut away, presumably because music GCSE results no longer contribute to core subject league table results. There is a strong campaign to correct this, and I would highly recommend that everyone read the details on the website https://www.baccforthefuture.com/
On a personal level, one of the schools I was teaching in dropped music as a subject, and I saw an immediate drop off in students wanting singing instruction. Most students were taking lessons to help towards GCSE performances. Once the subject was dropped, no need for the extra lessons! Sad to say I had to stop teaching there in order to find additional work to fill my time.
I am very lucky to be able to work in an area that gives so much fulfillment. Once again, I am working with a group of young composers as part of the Firebird Trust Komposit project. This year we have more composers, and a greater number of workshops with them. We had a massive number of applications from young composers to be part of this project, and many had to be turned away. There is a demand for music education. There is a willingness for the Arts Council to fund music education. There is also a great love and desire on behalf of musicians to teach and pass on their art. It is sad that mainstream education seems to be missing this point entirely and providing a lopsided education based purely on schools’ desire to be high in a league table.
Please do visit the Komposit project Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kompositcomposerstool/?__tn__=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARCP4s5nXOjnqOD_2zp4V99GV75xgdQSIBapEeOElAdqggm8q4_a9nLtFpREfmUe9874cSVyeZQV5uM- and come and see the results of the project at the final concert on 29th April in Nottingham.