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Bridget’s Blog: Refreshing A Common Approach for 2022

28th March 2022

Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte

When we cleared out the Music Mark office in the Autumn of 2020, we had a difficult decision to make; should we throw away the big green folders stored on one of the shelves?  I’m not very good at having a paperless office – (anyone who’s joined me for a zoom meeting will know that) – but as the team now works from home, we are making more of an effort to store things digitally.

So we discussed the dilemma of whether to keep the big A Common Approach folders and since we have a digital version of the resource on our website, I kept just one copy (as I said, I’m not very good at throwing away papers). But the discussion about the resource itself got us thinking.  Published in 2002, was it still relevant? Did people still use it?  As a team we were not sure we could answer that question ourselves, so we put a call out to our members and the response we got encouraged us to think about a ‘refresh’!

A Common Approach

A Common Approach was originally published in 2002

The work is almost done now, and unlike the English and Welsh National Plans for Music Education which don’t have a publication date yet, I am confident that we will be able to launch the new A Common Approach at our Summer Term CPD day on 25 April.  With the help of a working group of music tutors from across the UK, some of whom were involved in creating the 2002 version, we have updated many sections to reflect the changes in musical learning over the past 20 years.  As well as fully digitising the resource, we have also added a section on the harp, more about whole class teaching, and of course threaded through how to consider equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) as an instrumental teacher.  We are ‘beta testing’ what we’ve created with a few music services and some students who (we hope) will be some of our future workforce. Following this, we are excited to be able to unveil our work next month.

The tagline which is emblazoned on the front of the big green folder in my office states that A Common Approach is ‘An Instrumental/Vocal Curriculum’. In the same way the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is now in online format allowing for constant updates and additions, as a digital resource we hope A Common Approach will continue to evolve over the coming months and years to ensure it is as useful as it can be to all music tutors at every stage of their career.

The work we’ve done on this resource arose from consulting our membership.  As a Membership Association, we are guided and governed by our members, and much of what we do is based on the feedback we receive.  This was acutely demonstrated within our 2020/21 Annual Review.  We are always listening and aim to support, connect and influence based on the conversations we have on a day-to-day basis. As well as these daily conversations, we also have our annual Member Survey as a more defined point to ask everyone how we are doing and what we should do next.

Now we’ve almost completed the ‘refresh’ of A Common Approach, what do you want us to turn our attention to?  What else could we be doing to support the work you do as providers of music education for children and young people?  Get your thinking caps on and look out for our annual Member Survey which we plan to share after Easter.

And in the meantime – keep in touch, and perhaps join us on 25 April for the launch of the digital ‘Instrumental/Vocal Curriculum’ or one of the training sessions or ‘teach meets’ where we’ll look at the resource over the coming months!