Ahead of the Online day of our Talk into Action conference series on 17 November, we caught up with our Online Sponsor, ABRSM. Lincoln Abbotts, Executive Director at ABRSM, told us more about their mentoring programme, what to expect from their conference session, and how the music education sector can become more inclusive and accessible.
MM: What’s been the focus of ABRSM’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme this year?
LA: Our Diversity and Inclusion Programme is at the heart of our work to become an organisation that is fair, open and accessible. It has five interconnected strands which embrace an active commissioning programme, supporting the next generation, partnerships and advocacy, and transforming our syllabuses and governance.
This year our focus has been on reaching out to individuals and communities, and celebrating the richness that comes from welcoming a broad range of voices. Recent work on supporting the next generation of composers has been particularly exciting, and features prominently in the session we are leading at this year’s Music Mark conference.
MM: What was the inspiration behind starting ‘Writing for Music Education’?
LA: ‘Writing for Music Education’ is our mentoring programme for emerging composers from diverse backgrounds. Designed to support and nurture composers at the beginning of their journeys, it particularly helps to open up opportunities to write for education, from school ensembles and bands to community settings and graded music exams.
We recognise the need to look closely at the music on our syllabuses and in our publications and make changes that allow more learners, teachers and parents across our global communities to recognise themselves in the music they find there. Encouraging and enabling composers from diverse backgrounds can help enormously here – building a new pool of music to choose from. We’re also uncovering previously unrecognised works and championing contemporary composers who work in the music education space.
MM: What’s been the most memorable moment from the programme so far?
LA: There have been so many positives to celebrate. New partnerships, collaborations and friendships spring to mind – with The Ivors Academy, Black Lives in Music and the Musicians’ Union. They’ve all been so supportive in getting our composer mentoring programme to where it is today.
Then there’s the thrill of connecting participating composers with our partners, including the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, National Open Youth Orchestra and National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and seeing their music commissioned and published. Composer Kristina Arakelyan, who now has a piece in our latest Piano syllabus, is co-presenting our session on 17 November so tune in find out more about her experiences!
MM: We’re very excited that you’ll be leading a discussion at our Talk Into Action conference Online event as part of the session ‘New Voices: Creating opportunities for the next generation of composers to write for music education’! What can we expect from the session?
LA: I’ll be joined by teacher and performer Andy Grappy and composer Kristina Arakelyan. It promises to be an action packed 30 mins that will shine a light on the place for newly-created music in music education and the importance of encouraging more young people to make, create, notate and share their music.
MM: Why is ABRSM a good fit for our Talk Into Action conference series?
LA: We have a really strong partnership with Music Mark, including our support for the Music Mark Schools programme and collaboration around our free Classroom 200 resource and newly-announced Exam Discount Scheme.
The opportunity to work closely on the Talk Into Action conference series has been hugely beneficial for us, as Music Mark has played such an important role in galvanising the sector and helping to drive forward meaningful action in making music education diverse and inclusive. As we all learn more about the richness that being more open, diverse and inclusive brings it’s so important to share our collective challenges, success stories and resources. It’s important to talk, and it’s very important to take action.
MM: The Talk into Action movement is all about making music education more equitable, diverse, and inclusive and is the theme of our conference series. What’s something you’d like to see change in music education?
LA: We’d like to see, and play our part in, a music education sector that increasingly recognises the power and place of partnership working. Working alongside individuals, organisations and communities has to be at the foundation of access and progression that is meaningful and authentic.
ABRSM is the Online Sponsor of Music Mark’s Talk into Action conference series, and will lead a session exploring ‘new opportunities for the next generation of music education composers’ on the 17 November as part of the Online event.