The importance of music education after Brexit



For many people, thinking about music education evokes memories of being forced to play the recorder in a school boardroom, a painful experience for both performer and audience.

This form of performance is often uninviting and very few people will walk away from it feeling inspired to develop their musical abilities.

Fortunately, music education has become much more open-minded and diverse, encouraging young learners to discover a range of opportunities and career paths, both on stage and behind the scenes.

It is beneficial for mental well-being, it is expressive, creative, enjoyable and it helps to reinforce the importance of collaborative and collective work.

The music industry contributes £ 5.8bn to the UK economy

The music industry accounts for £ 5.8bn (2019) to the UK economy, employs over 200,000 people and is something most of us are exposed to in our daily lives. either by choice or cognitively. Without music, television, cinema and games for example, would not have as much emotion, intensity or suspense.

In films such as “James Bond”, originally composed by John Barry, and more recently by David Arnold, musical motifs are used to remind audiences of places and people. Without John Williams’ score for the 1975 film based on Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws”, Steven Spielberg’s career might have been over before it started (if you haven’t seen this film you should. watch it and if you’ve seen it, or when you do, watch the opening scene without sound to experience and realize the importance of the score).

With the increasing development of games, more money has been allocated to the production of supporting audio and music, with the sheet music and audio supporting the action and financially attracting accomplished composers and artists. Music sync, used primarily for TV identities, commercials and radio jingles, etc., are mini-compositions that grab the attention of the audience and relate melodically and / or harmonically to a very strong product or message. not much time. These mini compositions come with their challenges but are just as important and lucrative although they rarely last more than a minute. These are all examples of the slightest reflection on the musical performance and production opportunities available to students and graduates.

And of course, there’s the performance – the “star” of the show, and why so many people are starting to think of a career in music to begin with. Musical performance is something people often associate with popular music (or pop music) and contemporary artists in the many genres they listen to, watch and engage with in an ever-changing multimedia world. .

Musicians and singers can often be considered the “stars” of the show, but there are many other opportunities available in musical productions, such as dancers, backing vocalists and session musicians. Not to mention the team of people who run the show, including sound surveillance, light engineers, technicians, costume designers and makeup artists.

All of these people are part of the production in one way or another, and each area helps communicate and interact with audiences more effectively. Business support also contains various career opportunities including managers, A&R, agents, songwriters, merchandise, and marketing. Basically, when a new artist, band, or DJ is signed, a business is formed.

What does Brexit have to do with music?

The recent events of Brexit and the pandemic have had a significant impact on all aspects of the music industry, as in all sectors and industries around the world. Brexit negotiations did not include live music as promised. This means that the suggested approach to allowing UK musicians and affiliated companies to perform, tour and work freely in Europe has not been discussed or represented.

British music and many others in the music industry are calling and pushing for Westminster to reopen negotiations on this matter. This isn’t just for UK-based musicians – the UK was commonly used by international artists as a gateway to Europe. The crew and tour directors would hire transport and equipment for European tours in the UK.

Before Brexit all insurance and equipment was regulated by the EU, unfortunately this is no longer the case, so international artists may reconsider whether they continue to use the UK in this way. These restrictions will have a negative impact on the music industry and the creative arts in general, resulting in reduced income for the economy and career opportunities for artists and those who support them.

While the current roadmap for emerging from the live music pandemic is very positive (largely due to the Let the music play: save our summer 2021 campaign), there are still questions and issues to be raised. More than three quarters of people working in the UK music industry are self-employed and have had to reconsider their career choices and future due to the pandemic and Brexit.

Also, after Brexit we will lose some of the technical support, skills and people due to UK work and travel restrictions. To ensure a successful reopening of live music events, we need people with these skills. Having an open room without sound engineers, lighting engineers, or tech support is basically an empty room.

How can music education make a difference?

Adapt and overcome; The music industry and the careers within it are diverse and offer a multitude of opportunities and experiences. While some people have a natural talent, most are not born with these skills, and with an ever-changing landscape and technology, we need to nurture and develop young people (and all) through solid education and experiences. . We need permanent talent and skill pools, as well as realistic, engaging and flexible skills that focus on developing skills in a practical way to meet industry needs. First and foremost, we must always put students at the center of development and delivery.

To enable this, all students must have access to musical instruments and music education must be accessible to all, regardless of age, social and cultural demographics. Campaigns such as Best deal for music education for example, helping to shed light on the importance of the provision.

The music industry and the educational experience, formal or not, must be protected and not forgotten. After-school clubs (before and after school) and weekends with a professional approach to teaching and developmental assessment and feedback are a good place to start. The reference to music terminology and theory built into these programs, but not prescribed, along with realistic and engaging projects and delivery are what will help them thrive. Education must be enjoyable and contextual for successful skill development. Knowledge, understanding and application with continuous self-assessment and reflection will inform individual progression and development.

Future development of qualifications

As we move into the future, the knowledge and understanding of industry students will need to include and adapt to the issues and problems caused by Brexit. For a while, the music business has been a key factor in music education. As technology has changed the way people create, publish and promote themselves and their work, entrepreneurial and creative approaches to reach global audiences using digital marketing and social media, for example example, have become essential. To enable this, qualifications must be flexible in delivery and assessment, work collaboratively with industry, and have the student’s experience at the center of every decision.

The UAL Awarding Body (UAL) musical performance and production qualifications have been developed to be adaptive and flexible to meet the needs of students, both academically and practically. The development process behind UAL qualifications includes involving industry representatives and encouraging creative projects that are realistic and provide the skills necessary to achieve, adapt and succeed.

UAL Awarding Body continues to develop relationships within the industry and recently became the first award organization to be accepted as a member of the Music Academic Partnership (MAP). This new partnership with UK Music will provide UAL Awarding Body with access to research and resources to inform future qualification development.

Another key area that needs to be integrated into education and projects are the new requirements for working in Europe after Brexit. Engage with PRS for music and Union of musicians (MU) for information and accompanying material is where students (and existing professionals within the music industry) should be directed.

The Organizational Guide for Working in Europe published by the MU is a visual guide showing when and what is needed and contains important information about tours and concerts in Europe.

This knowledge and understanding is what people working in the UK music industry need today to ensure they are ready for change and have the confidence to step into the ‘new’ world.

Andy Sankey, Chief Music Performance and Production Examiner, London University of the Arts award body


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