On Wednesday 22 May 2019, the UK media was ablaze with calls to include Stormzy in the Music Curriculum (alongside more traditional musicians such as Mozart) after Youth Music published research findings from their Exchanging Notes Research Programme, which took place in 10 locations across the UK, including here in Warrington.
Matt Griffiths, Chief Executive of Youth Music, also sent an open letter to The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP and the Department for Education Model Music Curriculum Panel stressing the importance of music in school, calling for an urgent transformation in how it is perceived and taught based on the findings of the report, which can be read in full (along with the letter) here.
The Exchanging Notes music project started in 2014 and was delivered in partnership with Score Creative Education, Padgate Academy and Warrington Youth Service.
Funded by The National Foundation for Youth Music over four years, the project involved a study to examine how young people learn their musical skills both in and out of school.
And with the final report being released and handed to the government, the hope is that a change will now be made to the national curriculum.
Steve Oates, director at Score Creative Education, believes the project has greatly benefited young musicians in Warrington and hopes this can continue even after the project has finished.
The Exchanging Notes project has been a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. It’s given us a greater insight into the musical lives of young people as they move between school, home and community settings and it’s enabled us to develop and observe a new model of musical education which we hope to roll out across the area“
“With fewer young people opting to take Music at GCSE level, we are hoping that this new approach, which better reflects their musical experience, will breathe new life into the subject and we’re really pleased that Youth Music are relaying the findings of the Warrington Exchanging Notes project and the other nine which have taken place across the country, to the government.”
During the four-year study, £1.2 million worth of investment has been distributed equally between 10 youth music partnerships in the country, supporting 974 young people including many in Warrington.
This funding has seen recognised musicians visit pupils in schools and music-based after school clubs set up, and Steve is hoping this can continue in the long term.
“Since the project ended last year, only seven of the 10 partnerships have survived, but we are determined to keep ours running to support young people in Warrington,” he continued.
“We currently run musical activities at Padgate Academy, Beamont Collegiate Academy, Cardinal Newman High School and Orford Youth Hub, and pupils have also been on visits to music studios in Liverpool and Manchester.
“We aim to spread the project into schools and youth organisations across Halton and Cheshire West.”
Following the release of the report, one of the eye-catching findings is that music by artists including Stormzy should be taught in schools as well as Mozart, and Steve reveals why.
“The main idea is that Music education should reflect the musical tastes of the young people, they should be supported to explore the music which inspires and excites them.“
“It’s not about replacing Mozart with Stormzy or anybody else"
The work showed the considerable benefit of building activities around young people’s needs and the importance of their voice in their own development”