Rolling out the red carpet: Music & Drama Education Awards 2022

Harriet Clifford
Sunday, August 1, 2021

Nominations for the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022 are well underway! Harriet Clifford reflects on this year's ceremony and looks ahead with anticipation.

It's not always easy to stay positive, even at the best of times. Throw in the chaos of the last 18 months and you've got a perfect storm. In March 2021, I was fed up, along with pretty much everyone else in the UK – the first lockdown had begun a year ago, and it felt like nothing had improved (not completely true, but it's hard to be rational in a pandemic). Yet, on 24 March, I sat at my desk in my ‘home office’ – where I have worked on ten issues of this magazine without seeing any colleagues, writers, or interviewees in person – and cried tears of joy as I watched the digital Music & Drama Education Awards 2021, hosted by Alexander Armstrong and sponsored by Classic FM. Dramatic on my part, perhaps, but also testament to the incredible and inspiring work of educators who pour their hearts and souls into providing children and young people with high quality, accessible and inclusive performing arts education day in, day out.

Back with a splash

Somewhat worryingly, if I cry at the 2022 Awards, I won't be able to hide behind my computer screen. The worry is fleeting, because this can only mean that we are returning on 23 March 2022 for a glitzy all-singing, all-dancing (maybe not) in-person event at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square! As you may have seen, nominations are open now and close on 27 September, and you can apply on behalf of either yourself or another individual or organisation. Nominated resources or projects must have taken place on or after 1 September 2020, and the categories open to nominations in music are:

  • Outstanding Musical Initiative
  • Outstanding Music Education Resource
  • Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama)
  • Excellence in Musical Theatre
  • Excellence in Primary/Early Years (Music & Drama)
  • Outstanding School Music Department
  • Francesca Hanley Inspiration Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • The Rocksteady Award for Inclusive and Progressive Music Education


We will also be announcing the Music Teacher Magazine Editor's Award and the Drama & Theatre Magazine Editor's Award on the night. The winning project, resource or individual of these awards are chosen by myself and my colleague Sarah Lambie (D&T editor), so there is no nomination process for this category. The beady eyed among you may also notice a new award listed above: The Rocksteady Award for Inclusive and Progressive Music Education. Although the judges will be looking for inclusivity and accessibility within nominations for all categories, it's really exciting to have partnered with Rocksteady Music School to create an award to specifically recognise the brilliant work being done in this area. As I hope you'll know if you're a regular MT reader, we aim to champion music education for all, and this new award – in partnership with an organisation that also puts inclusivity at its core – is just one of the ways we are doing this.

A closer look

To give you an idea of what the judges are looking for, the winner of the Outstanding School Music Department will go ‘above and beyond’ in the pursuit of excellence in music provision. Taking into account the constraints of time allocation and resources, the judges will be looking for evidence that music provision is exceptional, and that staff go out of their way to ensure that a significant proportion of students benefit from access to music. When you're making a nomination, you'll be required to provide plenty of detail to explain why the project, individual, organisation or initiative deserves to win, including examples, links, clippings, videos, and anything else that will help the judges come to a decision.

If you want some examples of what you're aiming for, the joint winners of the 2021 Outstanding Musical Initiative category were Dads Rock Academy and the London Music Fund. The judges said: ‘Dads Rock Academy is a really imaginative initiative addressing a societal need through music provision and bringing together generations. The London Music Fund is an enterprise that has supported hundreds of students to fulfil their musical potential, irrespective of their background, in addition to a rich programme of partnerships and patronage in the capital.’ The award for Excellent in SEND (Music & Drama) went to Reach oRchestRa, which the judges commended for its ‘deeply moving work and astonishing achievements’, describing the orchestra's ‘sheer quality of the work as well as their deep commitment to inclusion’.

Each nominee and winner is worthy of mention, as, I have no doubt, will be the case this time around. I can't wait to learn about the amazing work you're all doing, and hopefully come March I'll be able to hold back the tears!