The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, better known as ABRSM, has influenced the musical lives and tastes of millions of people since it conducted its first instrumental exams in 1890. As the exams were exported across the Empire, they made a significant cultural contribution to the idea of the 'British World', and throughout the twentieth century they came to dominate the grade exam market with significant consequences for the organisation of musical training in the UK and beyond.
David Wright, who’s written a new history of the Board, talks to Suzy Klein about how the ABRSM has reflected changing attitudes to music as a social and recreational activity and its role today in music education.
The Cost of Learning an Instrument
Research published this week by the Arts Council’s loan scheme ‘Take It Away’ in partnership with parenting website Netmums, has revealed that concerns over cost are preventing British parents from encouraging their children’s interest in music. Almost a third of the parents who took part in the survey said their children don’t play a musical instrument because the family finances won’t allow it.
Suzy talks to Mary-Alice Stack, director of ‘Take It Away’ about the findings and how, against a backdrop of increasing and continual pressure on family budgets, they have highlighted the potential for a lost generation of musicians.
Since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2004 aged 16, violinist Nicola Benedetti has gone on to forge an acclaimed international career, making her debut at the BBC Proms in 2010 and playing at the last night in 2012. Having received an MBE for services to music education earlier this year, she is heavily involved in El Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project and has just announced The Benedetti Sessions - a weekend of concerts, masterclasses and participatory sessions designed to engage, challenge, and inspire young string players in Glasgow.
Nicola talks to Suzy about her commitment to working with children in her native Scotland, how she’s dealt with being in the limelight from an early age, and why she’s more comfortable with contemplative music than flashy pyrotechnics.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic
This weekend the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their dynamic maestro Gustavo Dudamel are in residence at London’s Barbican Centre. As well as three concerts including the European premiere of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, members of the orchestra are involved in several education events including masterclasses at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Suzy talks to President and CEO of the orchestra Deborah Borda about the unique sound of the LA Phil and her hopes for its future. Plus clarinettist David Howard, violinist Bing Wang and members of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles talk about the significance of the orchestra’s outreach programmes and the influence of Dudamel’s El Sistema background.