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Inspire Event at the Barbican

On Wednesday 18 March, Sound Connections and the Teach Through Music team descended on the Barbican Centre for our biggest Inspire Event yet. In a climate of nationwide cuts to arts budgets, and a STEM-focused curriculum, music teachers are having to up their game in advocating for the importance of music in schools. We wanted to bring our Teach Through Music programme participants and the wider music education community together to share some powerful tools for advocating for music. And we couldn’t have had a stronger line-up…

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of Barbican Centre kicked off with the first of four provocations designed to present to delegates justifications for the importance of music in schools. Following Sir Nick we were joined by Gary Spruce (Open University), Professor Susan Hallam (Institute of Education), and Chris Philpott (University of Greenwich) who presented their provocations, facilitated discussion groups, and took part in panel discussions throughout the day.

The second half of the day featured case studies and presentations of examples of best practice discovered through the Teach Through Music programme – schools that have invested in the importance of music and have transformed themselves into musical communities. We were delighted to be joined by Lister Community School’s Director of Music (Amy Haynes) and Headteacher (Anthony Wilson), and Morpeth School’s Director of Music (Peter Romhany), who brought with them a 17-piece staff band! Our delegates were encouraged to pick up an instrument they’d never played before and get stuck into a big band rehearsal.

Karen Brock, Head of THAMES (Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service), gave a presentation on the role of Music Hubs in advocating for the importance of music in schools, and Mark Phillips, Senior HMI for Ofsted, debunked some crucial Ofsted myths – there were nods of agreement and frantic note-taking all round!

Jazz vocal leader and choral workshop facilitator Laka D finished off the day with a spirit-lifting workshop on protest songs, and sent our delegates on their way home feeling empowered and energised.

The day was an enormous success – thought-provoking conversations were had, solutions for challenges faced by music teachers were put forward, and our delegates left feeling inspired:

“Inspiring day at Teach Through Music – thank you all!”
“Fab day surrounded by people so passionate about music education, driven to make a change for the better. We’re gaining momentum!”
“Really enjoyed my day at the Teach Through Music event, great to hear so many interesting speakers and meet so many great teachers”
“Today has shown that music teachers, organisations and Ofsted all support music – we just need more brave SLT members to advocate for music”

View photos of the event, read a Storify summary of Twitter highlights, and download all the resources from our fantastic speakers here.

We need to keep this conversation going. Follow @TTMLondon to keep in touch and share your views on KS3 music education.


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