Tag Archives: music

And Music Services continue to be cut…

Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd is supporting a campaign to save the East Sussex Music Service. He wrote in his newsletter:

Sadly the budget cuts just keep rolling in from East Sussex County Council, and they’re now planning severe reductions to our music services.

The absolutely brilliant East Sussex Music Service (ESMS) are celebrating their 84th year; they deliver music lessons to around 7000 children in schools across the county per annum and 1000 children, aged between 4 and 18, attend area music centres each week. Despite this success, the county council have announced plans are being made to close the music instrumental service by 2019. This will result in the loss of valued music provision for many and destroy a service which has introduced thousands of Eastbourne children to music over the decades.

I believe such proposals are unnecessary, wrong and shortsighted. I’ve also been told that staff believe savings can be made without slashing such a much loved music service. We need County Hall to pause, listen to the people they serve and go back to the music staff to ask them how the funding circle can be squared, rather than just propose a decimation of the entire instrument teaching provision. A decision which if it goes through, will be horrendously difficult to reverse. Please join me in opposing this cut by signing the online petition here.

I remember being amazed when studying the music systems of Albania under Enver Hoxha’s regime, that every child, from nursery onwards, was taught music. By the age of four, those showing talent were given individual lessons. By the age of six, some children were learning two instruments. Music was a celebrated part of culture, not a sideline. I wondered why we didn’t do the same.

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Layla Moran: We shouldn’t be punishing children for taking part in dance and music

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Back in the day, I used to get permission to be away from school to take part in the local arts festivals. It was good for me to broaden my experience and skills and good for the school to see its pupils win awards and present themselves well.

So I was pretty annoyed to see that the Royal Academy of Dance had complained that the Government’s rules on term time absence from school prevented children from taking their dance exams. From the BBC:

According to RAD exams director Andrew McBirnie, before 2013 ballet exams could be run “during the school day and the student was able to leave a class at say 10 o’clock, do their exam and be back by lunchtime – and that seemed to be a perfectly legitimate activity that the student might be doing as part of their all-round education.

“Increasingly over the last few years… there have been more and more schools saying: ‘No we can’t allow this any more because of this issue with unauthorised absence.'”

Just this week, a study showed the beneficial effects of structured music education on cognitive ability and academic performance:

Structured music lessons significantly enhance children’s cognitive abilities — including language-based reasoning, short-term memory, planning and inhibition — which lead to improved academic performance. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, the research is the first large-scale, longitudinal study to be adapted into the regular school curriculum. Visual arts lessons were also found to significantly improve children’s visual and spatial memory.

Just like when I was at school in the 80s, a Conservative Government squeezes school budgets and music specialist education is the first to go, as a report in the Guardian highlighted last week.

The director of the Royal College of Music has criticised the “steady decline” of music provision in UK state schools.

Prof Colin Lawson used a speech celebrating Prince Charles’s 25-year association with the school to add his voice to a situation that Andrew Lloyd Webber has called a “national scandal”.

Lawson praised work that has been done to analyse the effect of arts and culture on public health.

The Liberal Democrats have long opposed the limits to term time holidays anyway, but Layla Moran had this to say about today’s reports:

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The Love of Learning

What are we doing to our young people? Testing them until the joy is out of learning and school is just one tick box after another. The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, said

The regular taking of test papers does little to increase a child’s ability to comprehend.

We have completely the wrong approach to learning. We need holistic education for our young people, encompassing the widest range of subjects, building character and instilling the love of learning.

This includes the arts. When I was 11, we moved to Missouri. I started at a new junior high school (years 6-7 in the English system) which had a school band. Up to that stage I had played a bit of piano and sung in the church choir. The music teacher asked if I’d like to learn the clarinet as he needed more players in his band. Within three months I was sitting 2nd chair in the clarinet section. I would never have learned an instrument if it hadn’t been for the opportunity at this state school. I remember my parents, who were on a tight budget, scraping money together for some private lessons later that year, costing $4 a lesson.

Years later, I’m a professional musician, wondering where the next generation of musicians is coming from. We need music, and all the arts, as an integral part of our schools. The economic argument is obvious – the creative industries contribute £87.4 billion per year to the economy. We would be denuded as a society without the undergirding of the arts which permeate and enrich our lives.

But I wish to make the moral argument, bringing me back to the opening point of school being too much about testing. Having an arts-inclusive curriculum builds a well-rounded intellect. The brain, when it has to marry the left and right halves in analysing and performing a piece of music, develops physiologically. Attention spans are lengthened when one learns to concentrate on playing your part in a band. Aesthetic awareness is broadened, that life is not about ticking boxes but about beauty, relationships and creativity. Learning to sing together builds community and teaches young people to work together. We learn that coming together produces something more wonderful than striving alone.

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WATCH: Norman Baker’s Reform Club’s hard-hitting song “Give War a Chance”

Norman Baker’s band, The Reform Club has a new album, Never Yesterday, out. Today, they release a very professional looking video.

Watch the hard-hitting song Give War a Chance which satirises the activities of a “peace envoy” and is published ahead of the Chilcott Report which we are sure will be published at some point this millennium. Norman plays the role of the envoy to absolute perfection. And there are tanks. Real tanks.

Of the song, Norman says:

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Tim’s top tunes: How many have you heard of?

Tim Farron features tomorrow in a Christmas Day Lakeland Radio broadcast. Between 12pm and 3pm tomorrow, the pre-recorded show will air and Tim will count down his top 40 tunes.

Cumbria Live has the story:

There will be no Slade or Wham Christmas hits with Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron picking the music – instead there will be songs from the Sex Pistols, The Clash and X Ray Specs.

The show will feature on Lakeland Radio on Christmas Day with a selection of Tim Farron’s favourite hits from across the years including Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths which might be viewed as an unusual festive tune.

It is well known that Tim and I move in very different musical circles. One of us is the essence of all that is cool. One of us loves everything trashy, cheesy and camp. It’s therefore hardly surprising that I have only heard of a handful of his choices.

Here is his list in full. How many have you heard of?

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The Last Post

As we approach the end of Armistice Day, it is, perhaps, appropriate to remember the tune most associated with military memorials, The Last Post.

The BBC produce some superb radio documentaries. They have surpassed themselves with “The Last Post” presented by Alwyn W Turner. It tells the story of the tune and describes its extraordinarily wide use, often at national and international occasions and including at the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and IRA man Bobby Sands. He also mentions the American equivalent, “Taps”, which was played at the funeral of John F Kennedy.

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Tim Farron on Swim Deep, Wild Beasts and Everything Everything

Everything Everything @ LatitudeRemember that awkward moment with Ming and the Arctic Monkeys? This is not a problem we’re going to have with Tim Farron. In fact, he’s more likely to introduce us to bands we’ve never heard of. When he took his dog Jasper fell running the other night, he was listening to Everything Everything.


NME have picked up on an interview he did with The Big Issue North in which he talked about his musical tastes:

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Norman Baker gets musical to highlight dangers of animal extinction

Norman Baker's Animal CountdownLewes MP Norman Baker has taken to music to warn us all of the dangers facing some animals we take for granted. Lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos are under threat. I spent 99p on it and it’s actually very good. You can find out how to download Norman Baker’s Animal Countdown here and the video, which I can’t embed, can be watched on You Tube here.

Norman wrote an article for Politics Home ahead of his Adjournment Debate last night in which he outlined what needed to be done:

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Norman Lamb and the ‘prince of grime’

The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham has the story of the strange connection between Tinchy Stryder “a 22-year-old grime artist from east London, enjoying the highest new entry at No 3 in this week’s singles chart” and Norman Lamb “a middle-aged Liberal Democrat MP from Norfolk”:

Stryder’s tiny independent record label was created by Lamb’s son, Archie, when he was just 17, after his Lib Dem dad remortgaged their home to loan him £10,000. Archie and his friend Jack Foster dropped out of school after booking Stryder – then completely unknown – for their urban music nights in Norwich and persuading him to

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