North West Education initiative

Posted on February 28, 2010

The Brass Herald highlights Manchester Camerata’s involvement a new scheme to train musicians.

“Three chamber orchestras in the North West – Manchester Camerata, Lancashire Sinfonietta, and Northern Chamber Orchestra – have teamed up with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to deliver a tailored training programme for orchestral musicians who are involved in the delivery of education work.

The course, believed to be the first of its kind, is supported in this pilot year by the North West Universities Association (NWUA) as a Higher Level Skills Partnership. Its first fifteen students, drawn from all three orchestras and the North West’s freelance pool of orchestral musicians, began their studies with tutor Barry Russell on 1 February at MMU’s Didsbury campus. Some elements of the course, focusing on the use of technology/different media, will be delivered at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

The need for the course grew from the huge growth in the education and community work undertaken by the UK’s professional orchestras that has taken place over the past twenty years. Orchestras are reaching more children each year, performing concerts to 300,000 school children in 2008/09. . Much of this work takes place ‘off the platform’ and beyond the concert hall and incorporates both informal and formal learning. This new course is a long term commitment to increasing and developing this valuable work. Charlotte Spencer, Head of Learning and Participation at Manchester Camerata, where the idea for the course first originated, explained further:

“Here at Manchester Camerata Learning and Participation is now central to our work and runs hand in hand with our concert season. It’s the same for the other orchestras: education work is right at the top of the agenda. Some of our musicians who want to participate in work of this kind, particularly those who trained before outreach experience was part of the conservatoire curriculum, felt they would benefit from extra training for their work in the education sector.

“The beauty of this course is that players have been asked for their input into its design. It aims to deliver what they really want and need. And of course the extra skills and understanding that the musicians gain as a result of completing this course will improve still further the quality of the workshops they deliver.”

The North West Chamber Orchestras Training Programme will be very much a hands-on experience, with a balance of creative and theory-based modules, ranging from general skills required for working in the formal education sector to specially-tailored modules with experienced guest lecturers from the UK music education scene. It includes placements in a range of educational settings, including the educational workshops being run by the various orchestral partners.

The course’s part-time structure means it can be fitted in to the musicians’ busy schedules. It is hoped that after a successful pilot year the course will lead to a Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Studies and be subsumed into MMU’s ongoing Post Graduate offer. MMU already has a track record for practical courses for musicians, having pioneered the very successful PGCE in Specialist Instrumental Teaching jointly with the RNCM.

Dr Jonathan Savage, at MMU’s Institute of Education said: “The University is delighted with to be associated with these three marvellous orchestras. Education is a very important branch of work for the modern orchestra and we look forward to seeing musicians ‘graduating’ and really benefiting from their learning.”

From The Brass Herald