Industry professionals serving music education
Supporting access to quality music education is part of our core mission at the HarrisonParrott Foundation, so we welcomed the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) released in June this year. It offers an up-to-date and much-needed strategy focused on responsive and participatory musical engagement, and an appreciation of the multidimensionality of the music industry and related skills.
Access to quality music education must be democratized and simplified. For many years, the highest quality musical education has been reserved for the privileged, namely those who have access to the time, money and resources necessary to acquire a musical instrument, take lessons and commit with ensembles, whether locally, regionally or nationally. The transformative qualities of music and the putative range of prosocial and well-being benefits must be accessible to all young people, whether their long-term engagement is responsive or participatory.
The NPME offers a range of new initiatives and guidelines that truly put music back on the curriculum map, despite its non-statutory status. As an industry professional and charity manager, I now want to know how I can do more with my skills and resources to help NPME achieve its goals.
The need for new innovations
The NPME identifies three key players in a young person’s musical education; educators (schools and higher education institutions), hubs and industry at large. The plan is incredibly compelling about why quality music education is so important, but, from an industry perspective, it’s about showcasing new and innovative solutions to how the music industry music can support the plan coming to fruition.
In fact, the NPME really offers only two concrete proposals for how the industry can and should play a greater role in the music education ‘ecosystem’: through the provision of paid internships; and through Music Hub partnerships, where hubs will host workshops, career fairs, and other events that allow students to engage with industry professionals.
Both suggestions seem obvious, and with good reason, as they are great mechanisms for young people to experience the world of music work, learn basic skills, and better understand day-to-day operations.
However, as a music professional, I started reading the NPME full of curiosity and an open mind about new innovative solutions that could be presented to industry professionals to help them improve the offer. of music education. I can only speak for our organization, but HarrisonParrott already offers high-paying internships (in partnership with Creative Access) and has a successful partnership with TriBorough Music Hub, among other organizations.
Can’t we do more? The NPME itself states that “although great work is already underway, more needs to be done to join it effectively” – but it offers no such inventions.
Funding to level the playing field
As a first step, perhaps we need to level the playing field. Music professionals who do not work in hubs or educational institutions are unlikely to have a clear understanding of what education is on offer. present, of the desired educational offer or, above all, of the way in which they can help.
One of the NPME’s suggestions is that all music hubs hire a volunteer professional musician to champion music education and serve as a role model for young people. This does not offer clear guidance as to how support can be most meaningfully applied. It is also disappointing to see, especially in this context, the services of musicians being solicited without remuneration (an eternal problem for artists).
Funding is described as a limitation of the NPME in the Independent Society of Musicians’ (highly recommended) analysis of the plan. Could the music industry fill some of these funding gaps by investing in the future of the industry through a sponsorship or scholarship program? Such a program could help fund travel costs for music lessons, concert tickets, or ancillary skills programs.
Engage industry at every step
The NPME offers clear strategies on how the music industry can support young people in higher education to enter music careers. But is it possible that the music industry is more involved before this entry point?
The plan suggests annual trips to attend live music performances to explore live music and meet music professionals. Wouldn’t it also be effective to bring industry resources and skills into schools, showcasing the diversity of roles, role models and pathways to industry careers?
It highlights how a quality music education can lead to a wide range of careers. But it’s also important to flip that notion around and demonstrate that the music industry has a role for everyone. For example, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and designers all work in industry, alongside the more obvious career paths.
At the tertiary level, the plan suggests that all T-level music technology students should engage in an industry placement program. Could this be extended to a wider group of music students? Similarly, could UK Music and the Music Academic Partnership expand their industry partnerships? For example, there are few representatives from the main classical music organizations in the UK, where I come from.
In search of answers
In direct response to these ‘how’ thoughts, the HarrisonParrott Foundation, in conjunction with the Tri-Borough Music Hub, designed the ‘Music Business Meets Music Education’ symposium, held in November at Hammersmith’s St Paul’s Centre. The symposium is designed as an opportunity to bring together all of the professionals featured in the NPME – educators, centers and industry professionals – to discuss how partnerships and programs can be established or improved to better meet the needs of young people. .
We don’t claim to have the answers. Indeed, the symposium aims to create a space where the thought leadership of the experts themselves can flourish. This is an opportunity to share ideas, form partnerships and collaborations, and creatively imagine and design solutions for the music industry to better work with music educators to deliver education. holistic and inspiring music to young people.
Music industry professionals, as evidenced by their strong involvement in the genesis of the NPME, are committed to supporting the next generation of industry professionals – now let’s see together how.
Lissy Kelleher-Clarke is Head of Art Operations and Digital Transformation at HarrisonParrott Ltd and Head of The HarrisonParrott Foundation.