London Mayor Boris Johnson Announces New Fund To Support Music Education In The Capital

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - 17:09 GMT Jump to Comments

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today published 'Making Music Matter: Music Education Strategy for London 2010-2012' and unveiled plans for a new fund aimed at increasing music education across the capital. More than £250,000 is being put into a range of projects under the Mayor's plans to boost musical opportunities for young Londoners, both as players and as audiences, including the Music Education Fund, which is worth £100,000.

The fund will offer seed money for partnerships between local authority music services and orchestras in the capital, so that more young Londoners, irrespective of background, can learn to play orchestral instruments, experience working with professional musicians and have access to a wider range of musical traditions, including classical, jazz, folk and world music.

The Mayor said: 'The ability to play an instrument is one of the most wonderful things in life, whether for pleasure or because you have professional ambitions. In a country that has given so much great talent to the world, we want to ensure a future Lloyd-Webber, the next Elton John, or nascent Lily Allen do not miss their chance to add to the illustrious musical canon that we have produced.'

The Mayor believes that there are too many short-term, one off initiatives in schools and music is often squeezed off the curriculum. And whilst early and free access to music is generally quite good in the capital, access to ongoing and affordable tuition is much more patchy. This means that if parents cannot afford to pay, their children cannot develop their talent. Local authorities are under increasing financial pressures too.

The Mayor continued: 'This two year-programme is about celebrating and strengthening music education in London. We will encourage long-term, sustainable partnerships and a focus on excellence.'

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a 24 year old composer, jazz vocalist, cellist and pianist, who took part in the London Symphony Orchestra's Panufnik Young Composers Scheme and has been Emerging Artist in Residence (EAR) at London's Southbank Centre, already has a reputation as a musician to watch. In September 2009 she commenced further studies in composition at the Manhattan School of Music and will be working with Serious this summer when she will lead a participation week at Wigmore Hall for 8-13 year old aspiring songwriters, composers, instrumentalists and singers.

Ayanna said: 'Learning to play an instrument is for me is a daily discovery of my creativity, emotions and my relationship with my environment and others around me. It is a journey that provides me with the discipline to explore ideas and experience the satisfaction of working towards and achieving my goals.

'Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn an instrument so that they too may imagine a better world and acquire the skills to create and contribute to it. It is also a lifelong journey that can grow according to your pace and participation. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It gives a freedom of expression that reflects our unique qualities and serves to provide a place where we are all welcome. '

The Mayor's Music Education Strategy encompasses several programmes introduced by the Mayor. This includes encouraging people to donate unused instruments under a musical instrument amnesty scheme in 2009, Rhythm of London, which saw over 100 participatory musical events throughout the city in 2009 and the Rhythm of London busking scheme, which involved young musicians playing at Tube stations to win musical instruments and a year's licence for a coveted TfL busking slot. Details of this year's Rhythm of London (17-24 April) and the busking scheme will be announced shortly.

The plan also includes the Rhythm of London Handbook and website, first launched in 2009, which will be updated on a regular basis, offering information about musical opportunities for young people, teachers, and the general public. In the longer term, the aim is to integrate with other websites and advisory services, to ensure teachers and schools have clearer, more comprehensive information.

The GLA will be working in partnership with other organisations to develop events and publications for teachers throughout 2010-2012 to support teacher development. The plan will also see an audit of music education provision, analysing trends and gaps across boroughs, age profiles, demographics, and types of funding that are available.

Mark Pemberton, Director, Association of British Orchestras said: 'The ABO is delighted to support the scheme. Orchestras already work in partnership with schools across the capital, and we look forward to working with the Mayor to extend the reach to every child served by a local music service that wants to grasp the opportunity of working with our finest musicians.'

The GLA's Music Education Programme is steered by a board comprising representatives and experts from the music education sector and chaired by Karen Brock, Head of Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service and Music Education Council, who said: 'We welcome the initiatives being proposed and are delighted that the Mayor's Music Education Fund is seeking to strengthen and deepen the partnerships between music services in the London boroughs and the orchestral and professional sector whilst inspiring more young musicians to make and enjoy their music making across the capital.'

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre said: 'The GLA's initiative in coordinating, highlighting and enhancing London’s great music education offer is really welcome. Our work across the Barbican, Guildhall School and London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with Music Services is enabling young people to realise their talent, and develop a lifelong love of all kinds of music.'

Chief Executive of Southbank Centre, Alan Bishop said: 'Last year, 60,000 people flocked to the Royal Festival Hall to hear the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, including 4,000 school children who were thrilled by their extraordinary demonstration of what music education can be.

'We believe in the power of music to give opportunity, and through initiatives such as In Harmony, which brings the joy of learning an instrument to young people in some of the most deprived areas of Lambeth, Southbank Centre tried to help bring music to everyone.'

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director London, Arts Council England added: 'Arts Council England believes that every child and young person should have high quality music in their life and we are delighted to share the Mayor's commitment to making this happen. Many of the arts organisations we fund are doing extraordinary work in this area, and we look forward to helping to link their work to that of other partners and for the benefit of young audiences and musicians across the capital.'

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