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Music Mark’s Summer Summit 2020

3rd July 2020

Music Mark’s Annual Summer Summit this year was without a doubt different than usual. Focusing on the disruptions music services across the country have experienced and the solutions to remedy these issues. The Summit this year, was delivered with the structure of 4 Webinars complete with Panellists and a Q&A function, similar to the way the actual conference would have been structured. Music Mark Members can listen again to the Summer Summit here.

The Webinars started with an Introduction by Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte, the First session entitled Open for Business was a webinar designed to Update the Music Hubs and Services about measures relating to Coronavirus and included updates from the Arts Council England and the Department for Education. The aim of this session was to discuss the plan to move forward and look ahead past the current situation and instead look to the resuming of “normal” services. As stated in the session, ‘Music Education needs to be part of the solution, children engaging in regular music-making attain more highly. Music is central to the catch-up planning’.

Session 2 titled: Music Unlocked and Ready led with the discussion of how to resume music services, Chaired by Gary Griffths, Professor Martin Ashley spoke in depth about a research paper he is conducting entitled Where have all the singers gone? relating to the issues Music Teaching is currently dealing with but also issues which will arise when teaching becomes face to face once more. In this session the point was made that, whilst talking about the potential risks of music-making, we must not overlook the huge benefits it brings to overall health – which includes that of the mind. Throughout the session Professor Ashley spoke about the restriction which music education will face, especially in regards to practical sessions and ensembles. He mentioned throughout examples of other countries which have taken a different approach to the UK, where ensembles are still going ahead. Throughout the session Professor Ashley spoke about possible remedies to the situation of lockdown and social distancing and what this would look like in the future. A valued session for sure.

The Third session: The Show Must Go On – Ensembles and Performances, dealt with the issues for ensembles meeting and playing together which have arisen during the pandemic. The session became a true show of the resilience of Music Ensembles. Attendees saw the ways in which ensembles have remained active throughout the Lockdown, chiefly through online sessions. Shared with the attendees were great examples from the Nottingham Music Hub and others, showing that although face to face group rehearsals are not possible, ensembles are still continuing and creating content which would not have been released otherwise.

To Finish of the Summer Summit, Session 4 School Engagement was a discussion between various Headteachers and Teachers of music in schools. It was important to get schools’ perspective.  This session led to an open discussion about what Schools were feeling about both Music teaching throughout Covid-19 but also what they were feeling about the remedies suggested throughout the day. A quote from the panel which seems to sum up the situation perfectly was that there were, ‘Concerns regarding what comes next. Schools have done well to promote and sustain music-making during lockdown but what should the response be come September?’ A question we are all surely considering.

The Summer Summit this year was not what people were expecting, however, with all that is happening it is assuring to see that Music Education is adapting and surviving.