Burn the Bridge

Kate Campbell GreenKate Campbell-Green is Primary Music Curriculum Advisor at Tameside Music Service. Kate was chosen to lead one of the Open Space Sessions at this year’s Music Learning Revolution. Her practical workshop will focus on leading a transition project from years 6 to 7 and beyond, here she talks about how she does that in practice and why she believes it is crucial to burn the bridge…  

One of the heartbreaking scenes I witness time and again is that of the ‘bridging unit’ taught in the first term of year 7. If you are unfamiliar with what this is it usually consists of a half term scheme of work which explains and explores the interrelated dimensions (elements) of music. There are two opposing situations where I find it disheartening: firstly that the bridging unit is necessary as children have no practical or other experience of such terminology before Secondary School; secondly, and perhaps even more distressing, the bridging unit is unnecessary as children have received a robust musical education before Year 7. We are now working in a time of collaboration in music education and, when this is exploited to its full extent it can lead to the abolition of the bridging unit and instead towards a bright new future of continuation and progression.

Knowledge is power: Data can be collated from some music services and/or schools which will inform you which schools have been buying in curriculum support from them. This is where a qualified teacher will deliver the music curriculum to primary schools and for many services this is a significant chunk of their yearly income. You can also find out who plays an instrument, their standard and whether they have played an instrument as part of Whole Class Ensemble teaching which usually lasts a year. You may even be able to find out what the outcomes were of this year. The majority of ukuleles and guitars I teach as a whole class know how to read tab and what their basic open chords are before they set foot in Big School. They will all certainly know the interrelated dimensions and how to use them to perform, compose or analyse of a piece of music. Just think how you can use this to inform your planning to make it relevant and engaging, not to mention being pitched at the right level from the off.

Flaunt your skills: If your school and the feeder school are supportive, spend some time in your feeder schools, whether teaching on a regular/ad hoc basis, conducting an ensemble there, inviting them to attend your own transition ensemble for years 5-7 or leading assemblies and performances with children from your school to inspire and motivate those in your feeder primary school. Or how about engaging with a transition project? Just try it one year, work with them before they come to Secondary School and they might just surprise you. Think how much more you could do with them from Year 7 and how much more they will grow as musicians with you adopting an informed approach to nurture their talent.

What: Music Learning Revolution
When: 23rd October 2015, 9.30 – 5pm
Where: The Brewery
Cost: £150+VAT; Bring Your Boss deal (Two tickets for £200 for you and your line manager or headteacher to attend), group discount (£110 per ticket)
Who is it for: secondary music teachers, primary teachers (specialist and non-specialist), school and sector leaders
Key highlights: Web technology for distance music learning | funding solutions for music departments | applying workshopping at KS4 | making classrooms inclusive | assessing music musically | primary-secondary transition | early years music making | music and animation | live music coding | mash-ups, beatboxing and urban voices | Musical Futures new approach to primary music | Massed beatbox choir led by Shlomo
Contact: Zoe.coakley@musicalfutures.org, @musiclearnrev

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Why you should join our revolution

Musical Futures was established in 2003 with the aim of addressing the inequity of music education by finding new and innovative ways of engaging all young people in sustainable, replicable music learning. 12 years and 1.5 million young people making music later, we still maintain that traditional methods of teaching music, while highly effective and transformational for some still target the minority, and that inclusive, diverse, relevant, student-driven learning is key.

The heady days of heavily funded arts education projects are gone. Instead we need to champion ways of ensuring that the majority of young people – no matter what their background, motivation or circumstance – have access to effective music learning experiences that are high-impact, low-cost, and that explore ways of supporting and enhancing existing resources (time, people, equipment). This may mean seeking out innovative practice, finding new partnerships, and honestly sharing what does and doesn’t work so we can be pragmatic about showing what we really mean by the value of a music education. We can’t be fluffy about this – we need grit, determination and realism.

The Music Learning Revolution provides an opportunity for teachers and practitioners to collect and experience a wealth of sustainable and replicable practical ideas that can be used and adapted into classroom practice immediately. But more than that: it is about combating feelings of isolation and joining a growing movement of music and arts educators who want to drive change and ensure universal music entitlement for young people. There is power in networks, and together, through this new and exciting professional development opportunity, we can show the value of music in schools, not just tell it.

Abigail D’Amore
Musical Futures Chief Executive

What: Music Learning Revolution
When: 23rd October 2015, 9.30 – 5pm
Where: The Brewery
Cost: £150+VAT; Bring Your Boss deal (Two tickets for £200 for you and your line manager or headteacher to attend), group discount (£110 per ticket)
Who is it for: secondary music teachers, primary teachers (specialist and non-specialist), school and sector leaders
Key highlights: Web technology for distance music learning | funding solutions for music departments | applying workshopping at KS4 | making classrooms inclusive | assessing music musically | primary-secondary transition | early years music making | music and animation | live music coding | mash-ups, beatboxing and urban voices | Musical Futures new approach to primary music | Massed beatbox choir led by Shlomo
Contact: Zoe.coakley@musicalfutures.org, @musiclearnrev

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Year 9 Katie on assessment in music

Music Education Now

Martin Fautley@DrFautley

All those things @tallgirlwgc How long before, as @Johnfinney8 predicted, SLTs realise they need subdivided grades? Sublevels reborn!

Anna G@tallgirlwgc

@DrFautley@Johnfinney8 my 8 year old son is now a B2. I said look just tell me is he on, at or below average for his age. That’s all I need

John finney@Johnfinney8

@tallgirlwgc@DrFautley But Anna doesn’t that require some kind of bench marking of standards (levels)?

Anna G@tallgirlwgc

@Johnfinney8@DrFautley I prefer, what would an 8 year old be expected to be able to do in xyz subject and how does mine match up to this

Kirsty Hirst@Booza69

@tallgirlwgc@Johnfinney8@DrFautley what about students who haven’t had the same exposure as others?

John finney@Johnfinney8


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Key Words – “caught not taught”?

Anna Gower


A few months after I wrote my blog about Key Words and the value of using these in context as opposed to focussing on the elements of music as distinct entities, I started to work on what has become known as Musical Futures: Just Play, the Musical Futures approach for primary teachers who want to make some music with their classes, regardless of their own prior musical experience.

In January, working with Musical Futures Australia Director Ken Owen and the fabulous Nick Flesher who acted as our external observer, I was part of a pre-pilot test of the ideas that took place with the support of Hackney Music Service at two primary schools, Whitmore Primary and St Matthias C of E Primary in London.

At Whitmore, Ken and I spent 2 days working with a Year 4 class. It was a massive learning curve for us in many ways and we…

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Teaching Music in the 21st Century


Experiencing music today is often very different than it was one hundred years ago. We have an abundance of new musical styles, we have new musical instruments that are capable of producing new sounds, and we have new concert venues that include the internet and in-ear listening. The musical landscape of the early 21st century is vastly different than it was at the turn of the previous century. Today music is everywhere at all times, there is almost instant access to any music you would care to hear, and personal music making can take on a variety of different forms regardless of skill level or previous musical experience.

Yet even with the evolution in music and musical involvement in society little has changed in the way musicians are educated and developed in school music programs, especially in the United States. Our models originated when music making was a vastly different enterprise, and today it can be argued that these models encompass musics that are now mainly at the fringes of musical culture.

It is time, perhaps past time, for those involved with music education in the United States, as well as other parts of the world, to reexamine what it is we do and how we go about doing it. I have five suggestions for how we might improve our situation in schools and at the same time help students become independent, life-long music makers, capable of making creative musical decisions on their own.

  1. We must take off our blinders and stop ignoring the realities of the musical cultures where our students live.
  2. We must stop pretending there are certain worthy music styles – those being the ones we know and do – and begin helping students realize how they can be active participants in their own musical cultures.
  3. We must stop degrading musics that hold meaning to students and accept the fact that any music that is meaningful to individuals is in fact important and worthy of our attention.
  4. We need to start considering pedagogical approaches that might lead to more relevance for students – pedagogies that focus on small learner centered groups, involving mainly aural musicianship skills, where students have significant autonomy over what musical styles and instruments are studied and where they have substantial opportunities to make creative decisions for themselves.
  5. We need to start admitting students with more diverse musical backgrounds to music teacher education programs – students who play in rock bands, dj with turntables, perform hip-hop, and are involved with various world music cultures need opportunities to become music teachers in schools. My workshop at the Music Learning Revolution will examine the use of iPads, as authentic digital musical instruments, as one means of realizing these suggestions for change.

Video: The iPad as a musical instrument: Touch (the USF faculty iPad band) at TEDxTampaBay

David A. Williams is an Associate Professor of Music Education, and the Associate Director of the School of Music at the University of South Florida in the United States. He joined the faculty at USF in the Fall of 1998 and he teaches classes in music education and technology. Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in music education from Northwestern University. His research interests center on the enhancement of teaching/learning situations in music education especially through learner centered pedagogies. Dr. Williams will present the workshop iPads and Music: Live Performance and Creativity at the Music Learning Revolution.

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What’s your #MLRselfie wish?

Here at Musical Futures, we’re a little bit concerned that we’ll break the internet this week.  Why?  Because we’re about to ask music teachers what they wish for.

The job of a music teacher is busy at the best of times but the era of austerity hasn’t been matched by a reduction in workload.  Music teachers are being asked to do more with less, so we imagine that you’ve each got a million wishes.  We want to help make at least a few of those wishes come true through our Music Learning Revolution, so we’re asking you to post your #MLRselfie

Tweet a selfie to us with the hashtag #MLRselfie and tell us your wish.  We’ve asked a few of our Musical Futures Associates to get the ball rolling and here’s what we’ve got so far (just click on an image to see the wish):



We can’t wait to see your #MLRselfies, so get tweeting and maybe (just maybe) we can make your wishes come true!

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10 ways to celebrate sending off your coursework

You made it.  For months you’ve been worried about getting those coursework portfolios off to the moderator but now, thanks to ridiculous amounts of hard work, you can finally enjoy a resource that teachers rarely experience – time.  Admittedly, not a lot of it…  Gain time isn’t what it used to be but it’s still better than the nightmare of convincing teenagers that they need to answer every question on the candidate record form.

We know how hard you’ve worked, so we spent some of our time putting together a list of the things that you can do with your time.

1.  Tweet #musicCAdone

We’ve set our Tweetdeck accounts to beep at us whenever someone uses this hashtag, so you can be assured that a member of the Musical Futures team will be there to congratulate you for getting through the hell of coursework season.  Was it your first year teaching GCSE?  Just changed boards?  400 pupils in your Year 11 cohort?  Did a meteorite hit your classroom?  Revel in your triumph by telling us all about it.

2.  Talk about what you’d do differently

You probably need to get a few things off your chest, so why not sign up to the newest online sharing space for music teachers?  Supported by Music Mark, the Peer to Peer network is a great place to take part in discussions about all things music education.  Get the ball rolling by adding a post to the ‘Introduce Yourself‘ thread.

3.  Make some music

You’ve spent so long helping young people become musicians that you’ve probably neglected your own musicianship in recent months.  Re-connect with musician-you and remember why you love this subject so much.

4.  Film a revolutionary video

No, this isn’t a call to overthrow David Cameron’s new government.  We’ve been gathering videos from schools and professional musicians all showing that they support our Music Learning Revolution.  Grab a camera, video your pupils making some music and have them tell us how proud they are to be a part of the revolution.  We’ll shout about it on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

5.  Follow the revolution

Speaking of Twitter, follow our Music Learning Revolution on Twitter.  We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest news about our one day conference and CPD event.

6.  Catch up with #mufuchat

We’ve had some great MufuChats recently.  Recent topics have included student voice, catalogues of recordings, primary music and widening access.  Check out the archive on Storify and get involved with the post-chat on Peer to Peer.

7.  Sign up pupils for our Beatbox Choir

What if you could get your pupils working with world-class musicians as part of a massed vocal orchestra performing in front of hundreds of music teachers?  Check out the details on the Music Learning Revolution site, where you can sign up to make this happen for your pupils.

8.  Like us on Facebook

Twitter not your thing but want to keep up to date with the MLR news?  Get sneak peaks from the workshops, quotes from presenters and even the occasional competition just by liking our Facebook page for the Music Learning Revolution.

9.  Get your tickets for MLR

Having been part of the revolution, make sure that you can meet everyone else who’s been involved.  Book your tickets here so that you can join us for our fantastic one-day festival/conference/CPD event in London this October.  Speaking of the location…

10.  Grab a drink

…did we mention that we’re holding it in a brewery?  Go on…  You’ve just handed in your coursework.

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Meet the team: Zoe Coakley

As we launch the Music Learning Revolution our Events Manager Zoe Coakley talks about her music education, her thoughts on Musical Futures and where the #MLRev fits in.


What does good music education look like to you?

Accessible to everyone. I wasn’t from a musical family so without having all the opportunities through school and our local music service I probably wouldn’t have ever picked up an instrument. Having said that I don’t think that the route I took is for everyone. I was a music-extremist! My life revolved around it and I was lucky that I was really supported in school and at home to pursue music to the level that I did. But music education for all needs to be more flexible and inclusive. To me this means that every child and young person should be able to actively partake in group music making, whatever their ability, standard, background; and music education should be made relevant to them by connecting with them through music that they listen to as well as expanding their knowledge and interest across the genres.  

What attracted you to Musical Futures? When I worked for Learning Departments of the BBC Proms and BBC Symphony Orchestra we ran a project called Family Orchestra & Chorus where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds were brought together by an amazing team of musicians to workshop, rehearse and perform music together. When I first heard about the project I remember thinking it was crazy, I couldn’t fathom how a random mixed-ability group could ever produce something really musical – for the record I was proved completely wrong! The amazing group of musicians that led the family orchestra and chorus brought every ounce of musicianship out of the brave and willing (and sometimes not so willing!) participants and I saw some incredible performances inspired by everything from the Rite of Spring to Doctor Who. The musicians who worked on these projects were inspirational, innovative and above all, highly skilled. I remember thinking that as a musician and teacher myself I wouldn’t know where to start if I wanted to work with a mixed-ability group in the same way… this is what Musical Futures does and what really attracted me to work for them. It’s about revolutionising how music is taught by bringing non-formal teaching and informal learning approaches into more formal contexts, in an attempt to provide engaging, sustainable and relevant music making activities for all young people.  

If you had to describe a Musical Futures teacher – what three words would you use? Innovative Talented Ambitious (for themselves and their students)  

What are the biggest issues in music education? Music educators face tough preconceptions that: music is for the elite; that you need to be perfect to perform; and that in order to succeed in music you need to have the X-Factor. And yes, of course there is a place for perfection and success but there is room for everyone else to have a go at it too, enjoy it and reap the benefits. Of course there are huge issues around the on-going struggle for funding, resources etc but maybe I’ll write another blog about that another day!

What are the biggest opportunities in music education? Numerous studies continue to emerge showing the long list of benefits to the developing mind directly associated with music-making. These benefits include improved reading, verbal, linguistic and mathematical skills, enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem, improved working and long-term memory. With such strong evidence for the benefits of music for young people, music educators have a valid argument for what they are doing. In reality I know that doesn’t make things easy, there are still many battles to be had for money and resources but at least we have some pretty fantastic statistics on our side!

What developments in Musical Futures are you most excited about and why? I’m most excited about the Music Learning Revolution, of course! We have some incredible speakers, influencers and teachers lined up to lead various seminars, workshops and sessions at the Music Learning Revolution but one of things I’m most excited about is working with Shlomo and a group of young vocalists (and all of our delegates) to create a sensational massed vocal performance on the day. I hope that it will really make a mark on the music education conference/festival scene in the UK in 2015 and that it will become an annual go-to event for people who want to revolutionise how music is taught in their school and what music means to their students and their wider school communities.

What do you believe the future holds for Musical Futures? It’s an exciting but slightly daunting year ahead for Musical Futures as we become an independent organisation. I think it will always be set apart by the fact that it has always been ‘by teachers, for teachers’ and we’ll be working hard to hold onto that, which is why for example at the event, we are leaving sessions open for teachers to submit their workshop ideas. But it’s the children and young people who benefit from the Musical Futures approach that I’m most excited about. You know when you hear an old song on the radio and it transports you back to a summer, a school disco, a holiday? I hope that in years to come, everyone will remember a song from their younger years that they actually remember performing with their friends.

For more information on the Music Learning Revolution and to book tickets visit http://mlr.musicalfutures.org/

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Guest blog: Katherine Zeserson

Katherine Zeserson

“I’ve been thinking about how music leaders and teachers learn, and how our practice evolves. Among the most ubiquitous and troubling findings in our Inspiring Music for All report were those to do with practitioners’ lack of confidence in their ability to teach music, and the sense of isolation shared by many people across stages and contexts. These finding are echoed by successive Ofsted reports. So what can we do about that? How can we build an inclusive learning community for teachers, musicians and other music leaders that will address those needs effectively?

We are a famously complex and varied community of practice, with different backgrounds, working environments, expectations, aspirations and affiliations; we may be members of several different professional associations; we may have qualifications or no qualifications; we may work in teams or by ourselves. We may not have access to consistent CPD support, or advice and guidance to help us create and follow through our personal professional learning plans; often we don’t have the money or time to participate in training opportunities.

We go to seminars, network events, gatherings and conferences eager to make connections and refresh ourselves, and yet so often the impact is transient and short-lived, despite the quality or relevance of speakers and activities. How many times have you left a conference feeling determined to try out new things, contact new people or think about your work in a new way, and then six months later find your notes under a pile of papers and realise that the energy had just slipped away?

Lest you think that I’m launching on an uncharacteristically negative rant, stand easy – I’m not! I’m very interested in working out what we can do with what we’ve got – the questions, ideas, skills, wisdom and experience held in our wildly diverse community are the most precious learning resource. Let’s unlock that – through online, live and blended learning models; through reading, writing and talking; through debate and discussion; through exchange, shared reflection and observation. Let’s buddy up. Let’s find learning partners we can share our questions and goals with, who’ll then ask us what we did about what we learned at that conference, or from that network, or in that online chat. It seems to me that unless we can raise our collective professional learning game, we’ll find it hard to push through to greater equality of opportunity and better, more consistent experiences for all children and young people.

So I’m game – who’d like to be my learning buddy following the Music Learning Revolution?

Katherine Zeserson is a Non-Executive Director of Musical Futures, and a keynote speaker at the Music Learning Revolution. She has a long history of human empowerment through creative practice, through her work as Director of Learning and Participation at Sage Gateshead, Chair of Sing Up, and through her international reputation as a trainer, music animateur and educator.


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Crafting a Festival

Musical Futures ideas don’t start in meeting rooms. They evolve gradually via conversations on training courses, through subtle hints picked up on social media, by attending inspiring gigs, after watching incredible YouTube videos of students performing work created in classrooms, on long train journeys, with groups of teachers in crowded pubs…..


And so you won’t be surprised to hear that the concept for The Music Learning Revolution, our new flagship event, started with a Tweet. ‘What we need is a conference run by teachers for teachers’ said @jackieschneider.

It got us thinking. Because we agreed. Through The Music Learning Revolution we hope to engage a wide range of partners to help us create something pretty special. From the outset the event has been crafted directly with teachers, and it will be teachers who deliver the majority of the workshops.

Not only do we want to ensure every delegate attending – whether secondary music specialist, primary generalist, headteacher, music hub leader, SEN coordinator – leaves with fresh ideas, enthusiasm and inspiration, but that they feel suitably skilled to do so. Plus the keynote speakers we are lining up will provide unique perspectives on the work of music teachers and practitioners that is relevant and solution-focused.

And do you know what? We think every single person attending should have fun. Lots of it. This festival will be lively, colourful, have a few unexpected twists, lots of performance – this is all about music and people after all.



The Music Learning Revolution will take place on 23rd October 2015 at The Brewery, London, EC1Y 4SD

For more information about content and how to book please visit mlr.musicalfutures.org


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