Joined-up thinking: November 2021 Editorial

Harriet Clifford
Monday, November 1, 2021

Is there a key change afoot?

Having spent eight months behind a computer screen, it was an absolute delight to meet many of our contributors, readers, and supporters in person at the Music & Drama Education Expo at the end of September. If you were able to join us in London, I hope you benefited greatly from the two days of CPD, networking, performances, and interviews – you can read my full report on p.38. Our next in-house event is the Music Technology in Education online conference in November (more details on p.14).

This month's Piano focus features an insightful article on the world's first ‘Steinway Exclusive Conservatoire’, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (p.30), a thought-provoking interview with Simon Lepper about being a ‘collaborative’ pianist rather than a solo performer (p.18), and a feature-length review of three new keyboards for young players (p.45). Elsewhere, on p.16, Incorporated Society of Musicians’ chief executive Deborah Annetts argues that ‘music education is dangerously close to being eliminated from mainstream comprehensive schools altogether.’ A terrifying prospect, and one that is backed by falling exam entries, the ongoing exclusion of music from the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), and declining numbers of trainee teachers in music. As I write, it's just emerged that the government has U-turned on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) bursaries for several subjects that lost their funding last year, but bursaries for music have not been reinstated.

Although alarm bells are ringing, and have been for some time, those in music education can perhaps hold out hope for the refreshed National Plan for Music Education, due early next year. On p.25, Claire Jackson provides an overview of key developments since the original was published in 2011, helpfully putting the imminent document into context. CEO of the London Music Fund Chrissy Kinsella, interviewed as part of the charity's tenth anniversary feature on p.20, speaks about the need for more joined-up thinking across the board, and hopes that the Plan will present ‘more of a commitment to ensuring that there are proper affordable progression routes beyond whole class teaching.’ Meanwhile in Wales, plans for a National Music Service are currently underway – read more on p.52.

Alongside all this, music educators are still doing fantastic things, of course: read about the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (p.36), post-Covid touring (p.33), one teacher's innovative primary school instrumental programme (p.40), and the link between pupil autonomy and peripatetic teacher wellbeing (p.42), plus much more.