Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fwd: Youth Music's Exec Director calls for music education re-think



24TH JULY 2013







Matt Griffiths , Executive Director of the National Foundation for Youth Music today called for a re- think of music education from the perspective of young people,  at the charity's  "Fresh Thinking for Music Education" seminar broadcast live online from the RSA in London this morning. The event was chaired by Andy Parfitt, former Controller of Radio 1 and Chair of Youth Music.

Key speakers including music journalist Pete Paphides,  BBC Radio 1 presenter Jen Long and music strategist Chris Price explored how young people's  passion for music could be harnessed.


Jen Long, presenter of  "BBC Introducing" on Radio 1 highlighted the importance of young people learning about the different types of music careers available to them. 


Long feels strongly that learning should not be limited to the classroom. "Work experience is the best way to learn your trade", she added but also argued for young people taking up work placements to be paid.


Long wants more to be done to encourage girls to choose music-orientated careers,   pointing to the low numbers of women working as musicians or in the music industry generally.  


Renowned journalist Pete Paphides  spoke about nurturing young talent in times of recession.  He queried if there was now a class-based polarity taking place in the music charts. Whilst acknowledging that the latest music technology may be having a democratising effect, he noted that many more successful bands are emerging from fee-paying schools than from traditional working class backgrounds.


He felt that a multiplicity of voices was lacking in terms of the range of artists "making it" and that for many young musicians, the gulf between turning their hobby into a full time job had become too difficult to breach.


Paphides was clear that it would be naïve to expect the benefits system to support young musicians but argued that there was a strong need to support emerging talent, pointing out that bands like Pulp, The Specials and Oasis wouldn't have existed without the dole.  He said "The BRIT School is great but there is only one of them. That's why we need Youth Music to give others that chance".


The final key speaker was music strategist Chris Price.  He explored the latest "disclosure" culture and showed how 85% of young Facebook users share their interests in music as a form of self-expression.  Highlighting the huge influence of dance music, he argued the need for young musicians to be allowed to learn music by exploration rather than solely in formal settings. He quoted world-famous bass guitarist and composer Victor Wooten: "As a baby, you were allowed to jam with professionals when you learnt to speak". 


Chris described the huge explosion in digital music and systems of sharing music between individuals. "Music and music making are less ends in themselves now than platforms for exploring other disciplines", he said.


Finally, Matt Griffiths, Executive Director, Youth Music spoke about the massive appetite amongst young people for  music.  He emphasised that young musicians in the digital age still needed advice and guidance so an important role remained for music leaders and teachers. 


He suggested that music educators need to think more from the perspective of young people and argued for less of a divide between  formal and non-formal settings. " It's important to recognise that learning takes place in all kinds of environments  and we should avoid hierarchies of 'good' and 'bad'",  he said.


Youth Music is fundraising to pilot a learning module for schools, drawing on Youth Music's  knowledge gained in the music education sector since its foundation in 1999.  The module will be piloted in ten schools to assess its success in increasing pupils' engagement  with music. Development of the module reflects  Youth Music's desire to contribute thought leadership to the music education sector and encourage a greater take-up of music as a GCSE and A level qualification.


Arguing for an equality of access to music education for all, Griffiths confirmed that the newly rebranded Youth Music would continue to focus on providing music-making opportunities for those with least opportunity.


The "Fresh Thinking for Music Education" seminar may be viewed  online at


For more information about the work of Youth Music visit








1.About Youth Music


Music-making is life-changing. Every year, Youth Music provides more than 100,000 young people with the opportunity to make music, helping them to overcome the challenges they face in their lives. Our music projects support young people to develop their creative and social skills, make positive contributions to their community and life happy, successful lives.


Our on-going research allows us to identify the ways to engage young people and drive fresh-thinking in music education. We also provide a growing online community for thousands of music education professionals. We know that many young people still need our help.


Youth Music supports projects working across all music genres.


2. For further information please contact:


David O'Keeffe,

Media and PR Manager,

Youth Music



T: 0207 902 1096

M: 07977 067576




David O'Keeffe
Media and PR Consultant
National Foundation for Youth Music
T 020 7902 1087

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