Smithills on ITV's South Bank Show

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Andy Moore, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. Andy Moore

    Andy Moore Member

    Hi, sorry if this has been mentioned and I've been stupid enough not to see it, but I just noticed Smithills Schools Band on ITV's South Bank Show, and it doesn't seem that anyone knew that they were going to be on. Have no idea what it was abou, I'm afraid, as I just caught a glimpse whilst flickin channels.

    Does anyone else know what it was about?
     
  2. tim

    tim Member

    It was about the state of music in schools. In the 90's Simon Rattle did a similar documentary flaming school music and Howard Goodall wanted to show that it wasn't dying but thriving. Featuring schools like egglescliffe (my own) and smithills and other schools with excellence in music to show that music is thriving in the education system in this country.
     
  3. drummergurl

    drummergurl Active Member

    lol i watched it... well kinda partially watched it... it was all about how music in schools has become more important since like 5 years ago or summat like that...

    it was all about music in schools anywayz...
     
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Having watched the programme, I must say I found it quite disappointing, and didn't really match up to the advance billing. I would havbe preferred to have seen more of the instrumental and choral groups, and a little less of the political points-scoring. Whilst it did highlight some improvements since the making of the Simon Rattle programme, I'm certain that another programme could be made pointing out the many areas where things are still in decline.
     
  5. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Very impressed by what I saw of the set up at Smithills and Edgecliffe schools.Are there any similar down here in the south ?
     
  6. BoozyBTrom

    BoozyBTrom Member

    Watched the programme and thought it was great. Good to see schools getting the funds to treat music as a serious subject again.

    I remember getting a free instrument and free 1 hour lessons.

    I was really impressed with the percussionist from Egglescliffe school. Welll Done that man!!
     
  7. aimee_euph

    aimee_euph Member

    but so they only get money because they are showing potential to become successful?

    i know my old secondary school wouldnt get anything because we only had a small choir of about 5 - 10 people. and our xmas and summer concerts wouldnt allow any 'proper' music and musicians (like me an neil) to get up and play our music. according to our teacher...the audience would 'get bored'.

    but the thing on smithills was good.
     
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    As a political points-scoring programme it was very good. As an accurate reflection of what is happening throughout the entire country it left a lot to be desired.

    There are areas where music is thriving, but there are equally those that need a great amount of help.

    Money from the government has to be used in very specific ways, when it comes to providing a musical experience for young people in schools. I am deeply involved with music education and come up against all sorts of problems through both funding from the education authorities and in schools themselves.
    Yes, things are good in certain areas, but no, it isn't great everywhere.

    Taking a look at the Smithills example. Did anyone else notice how long they have been successfully running those groups?
    Much as the programme seemed to be trying to give the impression that things have got better since the Simon Rattle programme, the Smithills example seemed to have just continued throughout. They were talking about a time period that started before the Rattle documentary and was still going strong.

    For those of you who might teach in schools - do you find that you get the support from the school that you might expect for something that is so high on the government's priority list? There are numerous research papers in existence that make a direct link between learning an instrument and improved educational performance, yet Heaven forbid that you might take a student out of a different lesson for 20 minutes each week.
    You then get such schemes as the Wider Opportunities Scheme that is the latest initiative between the Government and Youth Music. Basically this is classroom instrument teaching. You go into a class with 30 instruments and everybody learns at once. In theory it's a great idea, in practice it means that those who show any sort of aptitude for playing an instrument can only progress at the speed of the class. What they actually mean when they say that every child should be able to learn an instrument is that every child should be able to experience music through an instrument.

    This might well sound like a rant, if you feel that everything is fine in the music world, I apologise. Speaking from the frontline in music education (and professional performance), all is not well in the world. It might be starting to turn the corner, but it is far from healthy. When asked to name classical composers, many people (adults as well as kids) will list singers such as Robbie Williams and Britney Spears, many have never heard of Mozart or Beethoven (or they think the latter is a dog - thanks Hollywood :rolleyes: ). There are, of course, many exceptions, but those tend to be from backgrounds where "classical" music is played.

    Do I fear the future of music in this country? Hell yeah!
    The performance opportunities for our ensembles (orchestras, wind bands, brass bands, brass ensembles, string quartets, wind quintets, brass quintets, all styles of ensemble) are becoming more limited.
    The venues are becoming too expensive for amateur (and many professional) groups to hire.
    The wages that professional musicians and music teachers receive mean that many of the people we saw in the documentary will not be able to afford to enter the music profession. In comparison to many other countries, where there is heavy financial support given to the Arts, the UK is still lagging far behind. In a country that prides itself on it's heritage, we owe it to ourselves to do better.
    Audience numbers are falling and the perception of classical music by the general population is not one that means that we are going to see a major upsurge in audience numbers in the foreseeable future. Not without some serious outreach programmes.
    I am not saying that the government should be force-feeding every member of society with Mozart for an hour each day (although I can think of a lot of things that would be worse than this). What I am saying is that despite the spin they put on things, there is still a great deal to be done in terms of improving the musical life of our students. All is not yet well in the valley of UK music.

    To those involved in music education - keep up the great work that so many of you are doing.
    To those involved in governemnt - ask the people on the ground what needs to be done, not the men in suits.
    To those involved in music making - keep on spreading the good word. CDs are great, but nothing beats a live performance.
     
  9. horn1

    horn1 Member

    I have to agree with the above, although above all the program last night scared me to death! Yes there is all that fantastic stuff going on but that is not the case in most schools. If people think that we're sorted and that we get enough money now, will the goverment continue to invest in music? As a music teacher I currently see the other side of it, there isn't enough money or resources in the majority of schools. I'm battling away trying to teach in rooms that are too small with few facilities (there isn't a single practise room in the school), trying to keep a band going with instruments but no funding and generally trying to enthuse a whole school about music all on my own. I have to be honest the achievments of those pupils and schools on last nights program were amazing but it just left me feeling incredabily depressed, how am I ever going to manage that??
    Many teachers and pupils simply do not recognise the importance of music in school and trying to change that view is an uphill struggle. The only way I see to improve this is by celebrating diversity (but not at the expense of classical music) my music education wasn't diverse and was the worse for it. How can we get to the stage where every child has a relevant musical experience at school??
     
  10. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    On the flip side I'm off timetable today to rehearse with music groups in school so we can go out busking and not sound terrible. Music in my school is a big priority- one of the advantages of working in a Performing Arts School.
     
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  12. Andy Moore

    Andy Moore Member

    Music hardly exists in my school, about 5 people have brass lessons.
     
  13. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    As always with these things, people cherry pick to show their side is doing this that and the next thing, while the other side do the same to prove their point. Neither side ever gives the whole truth.

    Chris Wormold does wonderful things with Smithills, but he has a long tradition on which he can build. They had a superb band when I was at school and we used to compete with each other - that's 30-odd years ago.

    Try starting from scratch. I'm still, slowly, working up to their level, but it probably won't happen in my lifetime because the management of the school are not supportive - unless they want something, of course.

    Thanks to the inevitable cycle (currently in a trough) trying to keep ensembles going in my school is very hard. Of course, in Wigan, culture is most likely to be found between the toes of the great unwashed.
     
  14. kate_the_horn

    kate_the_horn New Member

    brass hardly exists in our college, but for such a small area, i think that our college is one of the best in the country for music, in general.
    it has given my A2 music new meaning, and whereas after high school, i was debating not doing it past gcse, i am now doing it at uni.

    ive improved my playing tenfold, and even thou the brass department is debatable (and i know the most about) the experience of playing and conducting ive had there is fantastic.
    and even thou, we only have 2 music/music tech teachers, concerts are always 1st rate!

    long live Sir John Deanes!

    kel x
     
  15. jonford

    jonford Member

    I thought the programme was good, but like most others it did not reflect music in most schools. The schools beeing shown had arts college status and like a local school near me probably gets lots of funding for new instruments and music. The school I went to however had a band of about 10 players if we were lucky and the facilities and equipment were no where near what was beeing shown.
     
  16. LipService

    LipService Member

    I have to admit the reason I watched this programme was because I believed it was going to discuss the disgraceful lack of music education in our nation's schools. Having a partner who is a music teacher made it all the more interesting.

    I was absolutely appalled!

    I have also believed Howard Goodall to be an excellent journalist and have watched with much interest other programmes he has made. This programme made me see him in a whole new light.

    It was obvious that his research concentrated directly on schools with either a rich musical history, or those that had progressed into centres of excellance for music (ie, colleges of music and art). No regard was paid to the 'normal' comprehensive's of this country where music is far from considered a core subject. The truth of the matter is that schools are still so under funded that education in music is considered a luxury, one that very few schools can finance to any professional degree. One fact quoted by Mr Goodall was that in the 1950's only 5000 pupils sat exams for music, by 2003 that number was 50,000 - surely it should be more than that! Mr Goodall also mentioned about Community Music Services giving free instrument hire - this is simply not true, not in my Borough in any case. In my Borough you can have cheaper lessons and instrument hire, if and only if, you are taught through the Borough's Music Services. Cheaper - NOT free!

    In my opinion music should be taught as a core subject from 5yrs until 16yrs old. Music is an art form that encourages so many other attributes, especially in children. Qualities such as confidence and creative expression are just as valuable today as they were hundreds of years ago, and will be just as valuable in a hundred years to come.

    I have two children of Junior school age who have no music tuition available at school at all. No band, no choir, not even a recorder group. This is the norm throughout schools in my area. My partner has on several occasions offered his music teaching services free of charge and on each occasion been disregarded. I hesitate in saying that I believe, especially in primary education, that much of the activity allowed to be taught in the school is down to the personal preferences of the Headmaster/Mistress in charge. This saddens me greatly.

    On a brighter note, I believe that the government has announced a new 'music manifesto' releasing more grants for the recruitment of music teachers and the re-introduction of music education into all primary and secondary schools. The pitfall of this being, that I do not believe Mr Blair and crew will be re-elected.
     
  17. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    I did not see the afore mentioned programme, but shall give my tuppence worth on the subject anyway.

    I attended Cumnock Academy, an ordinary secondary school in Ayrshire. When I left 3 years ago, there was a brass band of about 80, a slightly smaller wind band, and numerous other musical groups, involving about a quarter of the school. We had several resident instructors, (brass, woodwind, piano, strings, percussion and pipes) and a fabulous array of instruments and music. All of this to no cost to any students at the school. Their last purchase before I left was a fantastic marimba - a luxury to most senior brass bands.

    With this, there were several concerts a year, an annual school show in October, workshops and a bi-annual band trip abroad.

    This is the sort of thing that encourages pupils to do music at a higher level - many of the pupils did - including Dr. James MacMillan CBE.
    This is similar in all the schools in Ayrshire, where brass is a big thing.
     
  18. em_d

    em_d Member

    i was on the southbank show! we (herefordshire youth concert band) were waiting outside the albert hall when they were filming a bit and the camera scans over my face-lol-smiling as per usual :p shame they didn't show us actually playing though. was surprised we got there at all, i mean, the youth music in our area is poor, especially banding. emphasis is all on the orchestral side. music in school was awful-i ended up teaching myself AS-literally! i wish more people would take it seriously!
     
  19. yonhee

    yonhee Active Member

    I didnt watch the show but still...
    At the primary school i went to a strings techer and a woodwind teacher but no brass teacher came in once a week for those who wanted lessons and the scool subsidised the costs aswel.We also had music lessons on recorder in class 2 i think but i hated it so i stopped in class 3/4 and when i was in the infants a lady came in once a week to teach us stuf songs mainly and perrcusion we had lots of claves an rattle things an sum litl drum things but we did learn stuf like wot notes look like an suchlike.
    At my secondry scool we hav music lessons once a week obviously.theyre compulsury til yr 10 and there are 2 music teachers.We learn to play the recorder argh and do singing and we do stuf like key signitures and composing ickle tunes length of notes that kinda stuf duno bout yr 9 tho thats al weve dun so far im in yr 8.There is also string woodwind brass an piano teachers that cum into scool wel the piano ones dont but scool organises it and you can hav lessons with them.We also hav like 4 or 5 practise rooms unfortunatly not soundproof tho.Erm theres a junior strings,training windband,windband(that im in) an a joint scool orchestra with the boys scool but im not good enuff for that im not actualy good enuff for the windband raly but my music teacher told me to go.An theres a junior choir an a senior choir.There is probably more but i dont no about them.
     
  20. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    12 or 13 years ago, Smithills had no band, and instruments that you count count on 1 hand. It is abit silly to presume the band has been going 30-plus years :) the bands were started from scratch.
     
  21. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Maybe I've been dreaming, but even 20 years ago Smithills had a band because I was doing teaching practice at the time and I went there, so I know. I'm sure Chris has worked very hard - probably harder than most of us will ever have to or want to, but the tradition was there, even if it went into severe decline for a few years.

    We have also had a number of student teachers doing their ITT here, who went there as pupils and were members of the band while Chris was in charge.

    My school has never had that tradition except while I've bben there, nor have I had the backing that Chris has had from his SLT. Unfortunately, my school is run by the scientists, most of whom fit the Beecham description - they don't necessarily like music, but they love the noise it makes. (Especially when it comes to generating cash and publicity for the school). But they don't want to support it with cash flowing the other way. I think our SLT consider the music department as some kind of perpetual motion machine. And, I hasten to add, most other schools are in the same category. The lucky ones featured in the South Bank Show are a minute proportion of schools. The majority would like to be so lucky.
     
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