Looking back: Editorial November 2020

Thomas Lydon
Sunday, November 1, 2020

Can we learn the lessons of the past?

It is a huge honour to be able to edit Music Teacher magazine once again. The last time I wrote an editorial was in 2015, just before my daughter was born, and now she is old enough to pass detailed judgement on the quality of my ukulele strumming, before showing me how it is done properly. I will be editing the magazine on an interim basis until the new year. More importantly, the magazine has a permanent new assistant editor in Harriet Clifford, whose incisive writing and editing have brought this issue to life.

So, what else has changed? Well, everything and nothing. We are still having to make the case for arts education over and over, although the circumstances are vastly different this time round. The government is having to react to the global pandemic, as are we all, and the adversity has ground away whatever brittle veneer it had previously bothered to put on its arts policies, throwing the underlying totems into sharp relief.

Our freelancers and others who have lost their work are falling through the cracks in government support, and the Department for Education has quietly withdrawn Initial Teacher Training (ITT) bursary funding for several subjects including music (see News, page 8). The government's Culture Recovery Fund is beginning to help in some quarters, but the brutal sting in the tail is the Chancellor's classification of anyone who has not been successful in finding work as being ‘not viable’.

The response of music teachers to the adversity of the last six months has been an inspiration. In the hardest of circumstances, your inventiveness and persistence has ensured that we don't have a lost generation of school leavers. When those in power cannot see the wood for the trees, it is often wise to concentrate on the basics. As a society, when we look back and tell the story of the pandemic so that we can evaluate, process and learn its lessons, it is largely not going to be those people who studied the government's narrow list of ITT approved subjects who tell it. It is going to be the musicians and the writers; the actors, the producers and the artists. It's going to be quite a responsibility, and thanks to you, they will have all the tools they need.

Music Teacher is the UK's only magazine aimed at music educators from across the sector. It is a place where music is valued in and of itself, embracing all genres. We offer up new approaches to pedagogy through in-depth features, engaging opinions, lesson plans and schemes of work. We cast a critical eye over the latest research and products to help inform the conversations that shape musical teaching. This is a platform for raising awareness of the key issues affecting music teachers, and for championing existing efforts to ensure music education is accessible to all.