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CMU@TGE Top Questions: What do we even mean by music education?

By | Published on Tuesday 17 April 2018

Book stack with headphones

With The Great Escape now just a month away, over the next fortnight we’ll be considering ten questions that will be answered during the three CMU Insights conferences that are set to take place there this year: The Education Conference (16 May), The AI Conference (17 May) and The China Conference (18 May). Today: What do we even mean by music education?

We are presenting an entire conference focused on music education this year. This follows a flurry of articles and opinion pieces declaring that music education in England is in crisis. We want to see if that’s really true and, if so, what can be done do tackle the issues and fix the problems. In particular whether more closely aligning music education with the music industry could help shift things in the right direction.

But what do we even mean by music education? Well, we are interested in every initiative and programme that encourages people to create, perform and produce music, and/or to get that music out to an audience and build a business around their creativity.

That includes music classes and clubs in school. Instrument lessons. Innovative music making programmes for young people inside and outside the classroom. Music GCSE and A-Level. Music performance, production and business courses at colleges and universities. Educational programmes run by venues, trade bodies and other organisations. Mentoring, internship and apprenticeship schemes. And the kind of continued professional development training courses we provide at CMU Insights.

We reckon that tackling any crisis in music education – and making music education provision as good as it could possibly be – means joining together an awful lot of dots. To do that we need to identify what those dots are.

That’s why CMU Insights has teamed up with Urban Development and BIMM on the ‘Redefining Music Education’ research project. That work is already underway with a mapping exercise that is seeking to identify all the various kinds of music education available in England today. We want to know where that teaching is happening, who teaches it, what is taught, and who pays for it. Basically we are putting a lot of dots on the page which we’ll then seek to join in phase two of the research, which will kick off after The Great Escape, looking to report back next year.

It won’t just be a load of unintelligible dots though. We obviously need to explain what each of the different elements of the music education mix offer and provide. To that end, we are inviting people working in each of those areas to join us in Brighton to discuss their work. We’ll hear from teachers, exam boards, music hubs, music colleges, industry initiatives and inspiring organisations like The Roundhouse, Youth Music and, of course, Urban Development.

So, why not join us as we answer the question ‘what do we even mean by music education?’, and then help us define how we redefine music education to end the crisis and ensure that the music talent of tomorrow get the opportunities they need?

The Education Conference takes place on Wednesday 16 May – more info here. See more questions we’ll answer at The Great Escape here.