On shuffle: October Editorial 2021

Harriet Clifford
Friday, October 1, 2021

Williamson and Gibb are out – when will music be in?

As this issue of MT was going to press, the news broke of Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle. As you'll likely know by now, the former vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has replaced Gavin Williamson as education secretary. An unexpected but so far reasonably well-received choice, Zahawi studied chemical engineering at UCL (no surprises there) and has previously served as children's minister (January 2018 to July 2019) and apprenticeships advisor. Despite his own educational background, we can only hope that Zahawi doesn't share Williamson's view that all subjects other than science and engineering are ‘dead-end courses that leave young people with nothing but debt’.

Perhaps more obviously relevant to music teachers – given his role in heading up the hotly debated model music curriculum (MMC) and his, as ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts put it on Twitter, ‘resolve to exclude music and the arts from the EBacc’ – Nick Gibb is gone after nine years as schools minister. His replacement hadn't been announced when we went to press, and whether their appointment has much bearing on the imminent refreshed National Plan for Music Education, or the EBacc, remains to be seen.

In other news, we've launched our second Music Technology in Education online conference, which is taking place on 16–18 November (see News story, p.8) – registration is open now and I'm delighted that our varied programme will be presented by practising music teachers. Elsewhere in this October issue, you'll find a Strings focus, including our cover feature with the one and only Sheku Kanneh-Mason (p.16), a brilliant toolbox of practice tips from Vanessa Gaidoni (p.20), and a critical look at RSL's new Classical Violin syllabus in the context of more ‘traditional’ options (p.28).

On p.24, you'll find my interview with Roger Wilson, director of operations at Black Lives in Music (BLiM). Drawing on the results of the first ever BLiM survey, Wilson speaks eloquently about the huge amount of work that still needs to be done to achieve racial equality in music education. The newly published statistics and his words speak for themselves, but, as he says, we simply cannot afford to lose another generation of talent.

And finally, as I write, Expo is just around the corner but may well be over by the time you read this. If you're able to join us, I hope it is a valuable and enjoyable experience, and hopefully I manage to spot you amid the crowds!