‘On coalitions…’


Clegg and Cameron

Coalitions are, obviously, much in vogue in this country at the moment. Despite the oncoming train that is the October 20th announcement on spending cuts, the public appears to be, in the main, relatively content with the Conservative/ Liberal pact. There’s a feeling that this might be a new, more sensible approach to dealing with the big issues, rather than the usual Westminster shout-ins and in-fighting.

Much of what I’m reading and hearing about recently re: music education, is similarly focussed on this theme of collaboration and partnerships. In easier financial times, organisations who deliver music provision can more afford to concentrate on their own plans and aspirations, but now, with ‘all bets off’, people are looking around them for potential allies. But can coalitions prosper in the music education sector, in particular classroom teaching and community music? The nominal wall between formal and informal music education has of course been partly dismantled in recent years, but so many of the projects and partnerships tend to suffer from short-term-ism; plenty of ‘value-added’ to the curriculum, but rarely a lasting legacy.

The recently announced ‘Henley Review’ an independent review looking at how the funding available for music education can most effectively be used to secure the best music education for all children and young people – would, I think, do well to look hard at this question. Music departments cannot realistically be run by one individual any more, if they are to engage with the demands of a ’21st Century’ music education (and the current, fast evolving musical landscape of the UK). By this I mean issues like: in-depth engagement with music technology; small group-based working models rather than 30+ students at once; quality access to music for students with SEN/ disabilities; ongoing CPD for teachers via interaction and support from other music professionals.

We need community musicians/ orchestral players/ talented musical parents (enter your own tag here _) in every music class in this country, working alongside music teachers. That means a compete re-appraisal of how we fund and organise music services and school classroom delivery. The knowledge and experience about teaching and assessing music is held in so many different places and minds. Rather than continuing to merely observe each other across the musical ‘dispatch box’, we need to make a new deal (ideally one involving a more diverse cross-section than these two…)

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