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Bridget’s Blog: Music Education and the Climate Emergency – a conference hot topic

22nd November 2021

With the 2021 Music Mark Annual Conference now just days away, Bridget reflects on programming Music Education and the Climate Emergency as the theme for this year’s hot topic discussion.

Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte

I can hardly believe that we are just days away from our conference in Brighton!  We started planning taking the conference to the south coast back in 2019, proudly announcing at the conference in Sheffield that we would be in Brighton in November 2020.  Well, of course that didn’t happen, but it is so great to know that we’re finally heading to the seaside, with over 270 of you joining us on the 2nd December.

And before that of course we will launch our conference website.  We learned so much from running a digital conference last year and the website was one of the great things which we wanted to keep for 2022.  The site will go live this Friday (26th) and from then until January delegates will be able to explore the virtual exhibition, watch some ‘on demand’ videos, find out more about our speakers, and access resources associated with sessions we’re running in Brighton. Of course, on the 2nd and 3rd December those joining us online will also be able to watch the conference live channel and get involved in discussions through zoom breakout rooms we will set up.

Much can – and often does – happen between the Spring when I start programming the conference, and November/December when we actually come together for it. As part of the 2019 conference I decided to have a session which was arranged as late as possible so that we could discuss a ‘hot topic’. We talked about what music services and their partners could do to support schools when Ofsted came to call and there were both interesting presentations and lively discussion!

As we head towards the 2021 conference I reflected on what might be a hot topic for us now.  There are so many we could discuss, and indeed our session at the start of day one on sustaining the digital innovation of the past few years is in itself a hot topic.  However, climate change has been on all our minds of late and so I thought we could perhaps focus on this this year.

I have to admit that I didn’t really engage much with the news coming out of the COP26 summit, but it is clear that the conversation about climate change is far from finished as leaders head away from Glasgow!  I think we have all been considering what we can personally (or organizationally) do as a response to the crisis, and although it may feel like any changes we undertake are not going to make a dent in the massive challenge we have ahead of us, we have to believe that if everyone does even one thing it will!  But is it just about doing something practical?

Of course we can all look at finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, but as musicians are there other things we can do?  What might we do to support the children and young people we work with who we know are passionate about, and in many cases frightened by, this topic?

I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m hoping we can have a lively discussion on the 2nd December, thinking particularly about our response as musicians and music educators.  We shared details of a song and education pack recently on our site, and I found another this week.  These are perhaps two examples of a music education response, but what else can we do?

The debate will take place live and online (for our Virtual Delegates).  If you’ve not booked to be part of the conference yet, although sadly we’ve closed bookings for in-person tickets, you can still join us virtually.  Find out more here.

Book now to join us online for Fast Forward: Technology and Music Education on 2 – 3 December.

Virtual Only tickets available to buy until 30 November.