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Sound Connections at Music Learning Live

Sound Connections attended the Music Learning Live conference in London on 12 and 13 March in a number of guises – chairing panels, hosting debates, filming the conference and attending as delegates. It was a hugely informative couple of days, with debate and consensus in equal measures! We’ve gathered two very different points of view on the conference – Helen Finnegan, a Wired4Music member, and Nina Swann, a member of LEYMN, our London Early Years Music Network.

Helen Finnegan – Wired4Music

A recurrent theme of our day at the Music Learning Live conference was that of our honesty, so that is how we will start. Before I went, I was dubious of this conference. As one of the ‘youth’ that music educators are trying to create the best opportunities for, I felt that it might be a little removed from the realities of how young people perceive their educators and their learning. Nothing could be further from my own misconceptions. The conference was full of innovative ideas to improve the way in which everyone, not just children in schools, can gain a music education.

The Wired4Music team had several roles to play during the conference. Starting early was the media team, who spent the day filming events and interviewing people at the conference. As the official film crew of the day, the team took it upon themselves to try and find out why it is that people attended conferences like this and what they wanted to achieve from the day. As expected there were mixed responses, but the most interesting point to be taken from the interviews was the variety of ways people want music to be taught.

The main event of our day was the live panel debate which focused on music’s place in the curriculum and youth perspectives on music education. We asked and answered questions about how music is perceived within the curriculum, both by students and educators. Our findings from the debate showed us that there is a huge inequality with personal tuition and a massively varying way in which the subject is delivered across London.

The main message of our debate was that change to the curriculum is necessary. As the young people that music educators are trying to help, we feel we came up with some valid and honest ways for change. We consider music to be fundamental to learning and living and that everyone should have as much access to the subject as possible. We hope to use the success of our day at Music Learning Live to get more young people from London involved in the W4M family.

Read Helen’s full blog on the Youth Music Network

Nina Swann – LEYMN

My Personal Highlights from Music Learning Live:

A fantastic opportunity for us to feedback directly to government on the National Plan for Music Education. While on the whole well received, it was great to be able to challenge Ed Vaizey on the omission of early years music-making in the plan. How will hubs keep such a vital part of a child’s musical journey on their agenda if it is not mentioned within the plan? There was also strong voices lobbying for music to stay on the curriculum.

A truly inspirational speech from Jude Kelly, Director of the Southbank Centre, who reminded us all why we do what we do. Particular highlights for me were: our duty as educators to unlock human potential in ALL children and to get rid of the caste system of worth; to liberate all children to love music; public subsidy and art institutions’ responsibility for increasing access to those who really need it – investing in the cultural lives of everybody.

Wired4Music creating a buzz with their enthusiasm and commitment to music education with great insights around musical progression routes and how teachers teach. “Education is meant to be about teaching people to learn and think individually but seems to be more about getting a decent job”

Also (in brief!): inspirational singing with Giving it Laldie, Mbawula and the closing gospel workshop; thought-provoking discussion on the community music sector; utterly fabulous ukuleles and great networking opportunities to catch up with colleagues and fellow music educators…

Nina will be writing a full blog on Music Learning Live for Sound Connections – keep your eyes peeled…


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