It was the first time I’ve attended this, despite having considered it for a few years now – much easier when you aren’t in school 5 days a week.
Great to see so many organisations ready to interact and engage with musicians and educators – from instrument suppliers to cultural institutions, tour companies to exam boards. An atmosphere of enthusiasm and empowerment – people from all backgrounds being forward-looking and proactive with their expertise. Musicians with such rigorous and specialised training with wide open minds and big new ideas.
The tone turns a little sour once the seminars focus in on music in schools, sadly. You hear that entries to arts subjects at GCSE have fallen 14% since ebacc entered the discussion, that in many schools as music teachers move on they are not replaced, and most interestingly the data in the study that led to the idea of ebacc found just as much value in the arts than the 5 subjects that arbitrarily made the cut. Many stories about how schools are feverishly hasty in making big changes to please government/ofsted priorities (or misunderstandings thereof) – cutting the number of arts lessons at Key Stage 3 and scheduling compulsory extra Maths/English/Science classes during the time when extra-curricular clubs happen.
I wish the government had the intellectual rigour, understanding of complex systems, creative ideas and humility of the musicians and educators I saw today.
Then they might be better equipped to understand what is enabling for students, teachers, schools, workforces, economies and communities. And it might help with understanding other stuff like how the NHS actually does happen at the weekends.
The last thing I saw was a presentation about maintaining a successful youtube channel, which provided the most important learning of the day: Waste as little time as possible on worrying about competing strategies (or ignorant management, budget constraints, jumping through hoops) and keep as busy as possible doing good stuff, whether that be creating interesting youtube content or delivering great (fad-free) music lessons. Chins up, heads down.