There was a recent Ofsted report on the new Music Hubs here in England which was quite damming. The National Union of Teachers and The Musicians Union issued a joint press release criticising the government for setting unrealistic time frames and for moving the goal posts for this new way of providing music.
I have been putting off writing on this subject because I was finding it very hard to be objective. It touches on a nerve because it affects all the things I am passionate about but also strikes at the very thing that makes me feel like I have been hitting my head against a brick wall for a long time, the system!
– Music is my passion, I am a professional musician.
– Music education and the opportunity for children to experience music, especially at school, is something I think is invaluable.
Here in a nutshell is why. This was posted by Jackdaws Music Education Trust in Somerset. It was this organization and its founder Maureen that inspired me to start my own music education company following a project we did together.
– How does this fit into the current education system?
Well in short it doesn’t very easily, unless your school is lucky enough to have a Head Teacher or member of staff who has the vision to make it happen. It is not sufficiently embedded in the curriculum for a school to focus on it as it will for Maths or English.
If music is not in schools this has a knock on effect to any musical activity in the community now and even more so in the future.
So what is the answer?
1. The most obvious and at the same time least likely to happen is to put music (and for me all the arts and a sports programme) back into the curriculum with the same status as the current ‘core’ subjects.
2. Spread the word about the real benefits of music and allow, support and fund the many fantastic professional teachers out there to do their vocation to their hearts content. Whether they are classroom music teachers, instrumentalist, choir/orchestra leaders, music companies or trusts just let their passion and imagination inspire our children.
Now this is where we get into the current dilemma of the Music Hubs.
On the surface this is exactly what the new Hubs are designed for. A regional organization that is the umbrella under which all music in an area can work, be supported and funded through.
Most hubs that I know of are or were previous versions of The Music Service. My local Hub was a music service and transformed into a Music Trust. I have to say the provision and quality of music especially instrumental music is outstanding and all those in the area are very fortunate to have access to it. Not all areas are so lucky.
But and for me and this is a big BUT I don’t understand how a Music Hub can operate totally objectively when they are also a music provider.
For example as I said the Hub in my area is now a Trust. As an organization it has to provide work for all its contract staff. So it is very unlikely that if the Trust (a) provides the same product as another organization (b) that as a Hub it is going to give this funding to (b). Even if the quality and provision is better and even cheaper.
Can the Trust and Hub work independently from each other?
No I don’t believe it can. To go back to the Why Music? picture above you need to let people run with their many ideas and support the experiences they want to give. This diversity and creativeness can inspire everyone not just those children receiving it. For this to happen everyone needs equal access to the funding available which means the Hubs should be independent.
A better question is:
How can we provide a long term, cost effective independent administration that supports the world class teachers and musicians in England to inspire children to achieve their full potential in life through music and the arts?
Please let me know your thoughts below. I and many others will be very interested and we may even find an answer.