An A-Z of music education

Inspired by reading @heymisssmith’s A-Z listing, I thought I’d have a go at writing one for music education, it being New Year’s Eve and all. So, here it is, very personal, partial, humorous at times (maybe?), and very England-based, so apols to all my international chums, as well as apols to all other music ed chums I haven’t had space to mention!


A: Is for assessment, obviously! I expect to be researching and writing more about this during 2016. I think the assessment problem is getting worse, actually!

B: Is for BJME, the British Journal of Music Education, which I co-edit with Regina Murphy. Always worth reading! And Birmingham, for Birmingham City University, (and here, and here), importantly!

C: Is for creativity, and composing. More of both in music lessons, please!

D: Is for dinner time, which in some schools is now so short that rehearsal opportunities have vanished. Shame. Also for Doctoral Students – we need more of these in music ed!

E: Is for Examinations. We know about these in music ed, including how to examine for both skills AND knowledge. ABRSM and Trinity being prime examples. So, rest of edu, ask us, we know (and understand!)

F: Is for John Finney, whose blogs are always worth reading. Also for formative assessment, which in music ed we really understand, whereas loads of others don’t! And also for funding (see also ‘R’), more of this, please!

G: Is for Garageband. Comes with Mac computers, and does an awful lot more that just drag ‘n’ drop composing!

H: Is for Harmony, which we need some of in music education circles at the moment! (As well as those Bach chorale exercises.) Is also for Hubs, which are part of the integrated picture of music ed in England.

I: Is for instruments. More of these, and a wider variety, would be on the wish list of every classroom teacher. Also for the Incorporated Society of Musicians, who have got their finger on the music ed pulse!

J: Is for jamming. More of this too in schools, please.

K: Is for Kodaly, whose music education system is still going strong.

L: Is for London, who have had a great gig with “Teach Through Music”. Now the rest of the country wants a go too!

M: Is for Music – what our subject is all about! Also things starting with ‘Music’, Music Mark, Music Education Council, Music Teacher mag, Music Education Research Journal, and loads of others…M is also for Manchester Metropolitan University, where Jonathan Savage works-his blogs are well worth reading. And also for the late Janet Mills, whose work is still influential.

N: Is for new music, so check out Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s (BCMG) learning pages.

O: Is for Ofsted. In music, they are now our friends, as they currently ‘get’ music ed assessment problems, whereas many SLTs seem to cause them!

P: Is for Chris Philpott, whose thinking and writing are always worth reading. Also for the late John Paynter, who really made us think about music education back in the 70s. ‘P’ is also for ‘Presto Classical‘, the local music shop, where you can still browse printed music and CDs. (Crikey!)

Q: Is for the old spelling of quires (choirs). We don’t have enough of these, or of singing in schools, I think. Often because A and D above have prevented them happening!

R: Is for recording, audio and video. I still don’t think we do enough of this in classroom music lessons, especially when we share it with the kids. And also for research in music ed, which we need a lot more of!

S: Is for Gary Spruce, If Gary’s written it, you should read it! Ditto for Keith Swanwick, whose books still make me think, and often feels like he got to the heart of the issue a while ago.

T: Is for teaching. We need more classroom music teachers. Also for training to teach, especially in HEIs, which is under serious threat at the moment.

U: Is for Universities (see also T), which have seen a number of music teacher ed courses close recently. Also for UCL-IOE, where a lot of thinking about music ed has taken, and still takes place. (Other universities are also available!)

V: Is for volume. Music lessons involve making some of this, often quite a lot. Those designing new schools should be aware of this!

W: Is for ‘we’. Music making is a corporate endeavour, and this too sometimes needs recognising in some schools.

X: “X is for Xylophone. Obviously” As @heymisssmith said, which entry got me started on this whole A-Z thingy! Sadly a good quality xylophone can cost more than an electronic keyboard, and so a class set of them is often beyond the reach of classroom music budgets. Shame, as I think a range of resources is vital.

Y: Is for “why” (sorry!). I often wonder why music education seems to be in the mess it currently is, in some places. Why oh why?

Z: Is for zzzzzzz, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet….but also for the sleep-deprivation that classroom music teachers go through on a daily basis, as the job is always too big for the hours in a day!

I’ll probably think of loads more in the coming hours/days, but this is my stream-of-consciousness version, post Christmas Pud, etc, so, there you go, and a Happy New Year to everyone!

About drfautley

Professor Education at Birmingham City University, UK.
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2 Responses to An A-Z of music education

  1. I love it! You have inspired me to write my own. Thanks for sharing

  2. Pingback: An A-Z of music education | CSPACE BCU

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