Take note: August 2021 Editorial

Harriet Clifford
Sunday, August 1, 2021

The editor introduces the new issue.

'Nothing about us without us’, writes Drake Music's John Kelly in his tech column on p.48. An important slogan in the Disability rights movement, the words signify how vital it is that MT's ‘SEND’ (the acronym used by England's Department for Education to refer to children with special educational needs and disabilities) issue champions the voices and experiences of disabled people.

From p.16, you will find three pages of inspiring testimonials from students and teachers who are involved in Open Orchestras around the country. Their voices take centre stage, and I hope you will learn as much as I did from everyone's wisdom and talent. On p.32, we meet Sean Chandler and Danny Lane, two deaf musicians and workshop leaders at Music and the Deaf (Lane is MatD's CEO) who have been working with the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) to provide digital and in-person activities for children with hearing loss. Like me, some of you may feel challenged when reading the article to open your minds to the plentiful musical possibilities for D/deaf children and young people.

On p.20, Creative United's CEO Mary-Alice Stack speaks humbly about how – as someone who had been working tirelessly for 10 years to break down financial barriers to music education – the rug was pulled out from under her when she discovered that thousands of children are excluded from accessing standard instruments. It's refreshing to realise that this kind of response is precisely ‘the point’ of education and awareness. It's okay not to know everything about the experiences of people who are different to us, but it's fundamental that we actively seek to listen with humility, ask questions, and then take action in response to what we have learnt. Here at MT, we will be doing the same as we carefully consider whether it is helpful to continue using the term SEND (see letter on p.6).

Elsewhere in this issue, you'll find interviews with two top dogs in music education: ABRSM's chief executive Chris Cobb (p. 25), and Ofsted's senior HMI and national lead for music, Mark Phillips (p.34). Fittingly (it's as though I planned it…), you'll also find Jimmy Rotheram's advice on preparing for an Ofsted deep dive (p.40), as well as an opinion piece on the EBacc (p.15), some rather depressing A Level Music stats on p.22, a lesson in ‘youth voice’ from Orchestras for All on p.38, and so much more besides.

Whether this issue will be your summer holiday reading material, or you plan on using us to bookend your well-earned break, I wish you a safe and restful few weeks. See you on the other side (hint: at Expo)!