Read on for stories from across the sector to celebrate music-making in and out of schools.

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It is wonderful to be back and being able to ‘do what we do’ again. Having been prevented from creating live music together for so long, the bubbles have now gone, restrictions have lifted and we are beginning to see significant and positive growth in music once again.

 

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The last 18 months have been the quietest period I have ever known at BCCS. The biggest loss of all has been the lack of communal music making. Our team of 28 peripatetic instrumental teachers have done a phenomenal job of keeping online lessons going and curriculum lessons have by and large adapted well to non-specialised rooms and bubble protocols. But we have missed our BCCS music community. The joy of singing together, coming together for concerts, in-class performances and celebrating music communally. The whole school community is excited to reset and rebuild music this year.

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ISM

At the start of the academic year, instrumental and vocal teachers around the country are getting back to helping students do what they love – making music. But as well as ensuring your students have everything they need for their music lessons, it’s also important to make sure you, as their music teacher, are prepared for the new term too. Here are some questions you should consider.

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After 18 months of very limited bubble-based ensembles, we are very excited to be making lots of noise again at Hayes this term! Before the summer, we sent out a questionnaire to a cross-section of students, to find out whether we needed to tweak our extra-curricular offer. What came out of that was a huge enthusiasm for more music tech opportunities, and an appetite for musical theatre...

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We have had a strong foundation of music-making and a thriving music community here at Ripley St Thomas for many years. It has been incredibly difficult to witness the impact of the pandemic on the musical life of the school over the last eighteen months...

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Music is the heart of the school and no pandemic was going to stop that.  In times of crisis, as a nation we tend to turn to what inspires and promotes positivity to see us through dark days.  Look at the legacies of two world wars – often it’s written in song; the soundtrack which saw a nation through its nightmare.

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Any attention at a policy level for a subject that has been considered in decline is welcome, and the publication of the Model Music Curriculum presents the beginning of some positive steps to propel the classroom music conversation forward. Its thorough consultation, and slower pace due to the challenges of the present time, have resulted in something that will land well for many. For others, there will be some cognitive dissonance (rightly so) and they’ll be fearful of what non-statutory guidance represents. I would implore us all to keep the conversation going; in some respects, it is the continuation of a healthy history of academic, political and policy discussions around what, how and why we teach music.

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The campaign is particularly pleased with the expectation of a minimum of one hour’s music per week from Year 1 to Year 9.

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As COVID-19 restrictions ease once again, John Robinson, Head of Legal & Compliance at the ISM, highlights some key legal issues for music teachers, including contracts, employment status, safeguarding and risk assessments.

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As schools reopen fully in England today on 8th March, there may be temptation towards a recovery curriculum that strips back tuition to the 'basics', giving children a lot more time for that English, Maths and Science, by trading off Music, the Arts and Sport. Any success that comes from such an approach will be short-lived and superficial. Because it is Music, the Arts and Sport that are what makes us human - these are our 'basics'.

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With schools in England set to fully reopen in less than a week, Kerry Watson, Manager of Luton Music Service, reflects on what she and her team have learned in the process of providing online music tuition throughout three national lockdowns.

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It’s no secret that this is a difficult period for music teachers, school leaders and musicians. It’s also no secret that these jobs, like any worthwhile occupation, are always difficult.

Unclear guidance, mis-information and ill-judged government messaging have all contributed to the latest challenge music teachers find themselves working through, but our response, as always, must be collaborative, innovative and assertive if we are to bring music back in all schools, not just in the way it was before, but with something even better. Our students need it, our communities need it and the arts sector at large need it too.

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In light of changing government restrictions, a sense of uncertainty, and the prospect of an impending extended lockdown, Caroline Gale and students from Guildford County School remind us why continuing to make music is essential and worth every effort.

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For many educators, one of the main obstacles to resuming one-to-one music tuition is completing effective risk assessments during the coronavirus pandemic.

With complex government guidance and understandable caution from school leadership and parents alike, this important paperwork has taken on new significance. Your risk assessment should help minimise the risks of coronavirus transmission through your teaching practice.

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One Week Done, and what a week it has been. I thought I should reflect on this first week back, mainly because we have been off for so long in 2020! There has been so much happening every day at school. Getting through the first week was something I worried about having spent so much time at home. But it would appear I not only “survived” the first week, but I also enjoyed it.

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In recognition of Youth Mental Health Day 2020 (YMHD) on September 7th, we are exploring how music can nurture wellbeing by helping children and young people to ‘Bounce not Break’. It has long been recognised that music can be an amazing tool for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing in both adults and children. We have collected some great resources, sites, and positive stories about how music can do exactly that.

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While the #CanDoMusic campaign is offering practical resources to keep music in schools, there is often a major obstacle to adopting these: convincing your school’s senior leadership team. Although Coronavirus has disrupted the previous academic year and continues to provide ongoing challenges for schools, music can still take place safely with appropriate risk assessments in place and the scientific research is constantly increasing.

But what if your SLT is still reluctant?

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Dear reader,

Have you slept yet? I dearly hope so. Please continue to dedicate time to yourself; your family/loved ones; your thoughts and… breathe.

What a shift we’ve had in education this year. Congratulations to each and every one of us: we’ve all had our roles to play in this and I applaud you all for making it through.

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As pupils return to school it is vital that they are able to continue their musical learning.  Yes, they must have access to the subject as it is an essential part of a broad and balanced curriculum, but also because music’s wider social and emotional benefits will be invaluable in supporting students’ wellbeing – something many school leaders are saying will be at the core of their ‘recovery curriculum’.

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ISM

Martin Fautley, Professor of Education in the School of Education and Social Work at Birmingham City University, and co-author of the ISM’s National Curriculum assessment and progression frameworks for music, explores what awaits music teachers and students as they return to school in the ‘new normal’.

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Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson, Teacher of Music and Music Technology at Kenilworth School & Sixth Form, Warwickshire, reports on how the department pulled together to make a viral video.

The pupils in all our various ensembles had been practising since January for our Spring Concert, due to take place on March 31. Obviously, with the developing pandemic of COVID-19, and then announcement of school closures, the concert had to be postponed...