Music Education Solutions

Press Release: Curriculum Music Conference

Following a successful inaugural event last year, Music Education Solutions® will be hosting their second Curriculum Music Conference on 12th March 2018 in London. This event is open to anyone with an interest in primary and secondary music including Music Education Hub Curriculum Leads and those responsible for SMEP, music advisors, primary music coordinators, secondary music teachers, instrumental teachers, and music education academics.


The programme includes practical workshops, discussions, product launches and presentations. Key highlights include the launch of Primary Music Magazine, an Open Forum discussion where delegates can table their questions for discussion, a workshop on the use of Body Percussion to develop Literacy, and the launch of two new schemes to support primary non-specialists, from pBuzz, and Big Clever Learning. Also timetabled for the day is a Music Production workshop, presentations on KS4 & 5 music and advocating for music in your school, a discussion on tackling transition, and a presentation on the latest academic research into Popular Music Education.


Presenters include Henry Vann of the ISM, Marie Bessant of OCR, Ollie Tumner of Beat Goes On, Dr Alex Timewell of Leeds College of Music, and Kay Charlton and Dr Elizabeth Stafford from Music Education Solutions®.


In-between sessions, a comprehensive trade fair will give delegates plenty of opportunity to browse new music and teaching resources from companies such as Out of the Ark, Warwick Music Group, Charanga, RSL and MusicFirst.


Further information and booking can be accessed via the Courses & Events page.


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CPD Centre West Midlands have recently had their seventh successful learner graduate from the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators programme!

The centre has to date attracted over 40 learners from different disciplines including Early Years and Primary Practitioners, Instrumental Teachers working for Music Education Hubs or privately, and Community Musicians working in the non-formal sector. The learners come from right across the UK and Channel Islands!

Successful learners have praised both the Distance Learning and the Local Partnership routes for the qualification, with 100% of completed learners surveyed rating the support provided by their mentor as ‘Excellent.’

My mentor really understood my circumstances and some of the barriers to learning that created. Together, we were able to map my study schedule. She was only an email, phone or skype call away. The speed of response was incredible – my work was often marked and feedback issued with a couple of hours. This really allowed me to make the most of my time.’

The centre continues to develop its provision and range of learning materials, with innovation driven by a commitment to support learner needs. Programme Leader Dr Liz Stafford is delighted by the learners’ success to date, ‘We are so proud of our seven successful CME graduates, and wish them every success as they move forward with the next stage of their career development. It is a really exciting time for our centre as over the next six months we will be supporting another 10 learners to completion, with the remaining learners due to complete in 2019.’

To find out more about the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators, visit the CPD Centre West Midlands website.

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You can watch the highlights video from our 4th annual Singing Strategy Symposium here: Watch Video

I did a lot of thinking about lesson planning during October. We have had our annual round of ‘Planning & Assessing Primary Music’ live courses, and have also just launched the brand new online version of this course. In addition, by happy coincidence, in my ‘other job’ at Leeds College of Music I have been introducing my students to the processes and purpose of lesson planning…

In all of these various interactions on the subject of planning, one big issue kept reappearing. For me, the process of planning is about setting objectives for our pupils, working out the outcomes we need to assess whether the objectives have been met, and then filling in the activities which take us from the objective to the outcomes. But, particularly with a creative subject like music, it’s the activities that are the really exciting bit! In all the tasks I have set during our courses over the last month, with both seasoned teachers and students, all the groups have acknowledged that they have become distracted by the exciting activity ideas that pop into their mind as soon as they think of a topic.

Why is that an issue? Well, if we get over-excited about the activities, pretty soon we may be wavering away from our original objective, or getting into a situation where we cannot create the outcomes that we had intended. I have a suspicion that this may be why school music schemes often take on that “Thomas Cook Tour” (thanks, Professor Fautley!) quality, with many different topics covering different styles and genres, none of which relate to each other or build on the skills already developed. A “shallow musical odessey” (thanks, Ofsted!) if you will.

In an attempt to clarify my thinking, I drew this diagram at our Birmingham course. This represents how I feel about the different components of the planning process, but I’d love to hear from others who approach planning from a different perspective!

Dr Elizabeth Stafford

November 2017



We are delighted to have been working in partnership with pBuzz to create a brand new set of teaching resources for KS1 teachers.

Featuring 12 brand new songs by Kay Charlton, alongside lesson plans, assessment framework, and interactive teacher-development materials, the resources provide everything you need to teach KS1 music with confidence.

For a limited time it is possible to access all of these resources, including a class set of pBuzzes, completely free! In exchange you would take part in our user-testing trial, providing feedback and suggestions to help us refine and develop the resources.

If your school would be interested in being involved in the trial, please contact us via our ‘Get in Touch’ page, and someone will be in contact with you soon!

As is usual for this time of year, I have been tootling around the UK leading INSET sessions for various different music services. At these sessions have emerged two clear but contradictory themes.

Many teachers have expressed how important it is for children to be allowed to make mistakes. There is a real feeling that we are heading down the wrong road in today’s education system, in which children are forced to make linear progress week on week, year on year, and must never, ever fail at anything. The teachers I spoke to felt strongly about creating within their music lessons a safe space for pupils to make mistakes and learn from them. The purpose of this is not just to give respite from the relentless march of linear progression, but also to fit our students for the workplace, where it is imperative to be able to cope with and learn from mistakes.

It is clear that these music teachers want to create an environment devoid of blame and encouraging of useful error for our pupils. But do they extend themselves the same courtesy? Apparently not! I lost count of the number of teachers who thanked me for my ‘honesty’ when I spoke of the skills and curriculum areas that I find difficult (some impossible) to teach. Many of them confessed that they encountered the same problems but had assumed they were a product of their own inadequacy. Others started conversations with phrases like ‘I’m only self-taught’ or ‘My degree’s not in music’ and went on to apologise unnecessarily for what they perceived as their inherent weaknesses.

Why do we judge our pupils by one standard and ourselves by another? Why can we see that the demands put on pupils are ridiculous and counter-productive, but berate ourselves for not meeting a similar set of standards? Doesn’t it make you a better teacher if you have to strive to overcome problems? If you have to think creatively, imagining new scenarios and alternative solutions? If we all knew everything, how would we learn anything? If we all knew everything, how would we cope when our pupils can’t understand?

Let’s agree to cut ourselves some slack. Let’s allow ourselves to make mistakes. Let’s make our lessons a safe space for ourselves as well as our pupils.

Dr Elizabeth Stafford
11th September 2017

The programme for this year’s Singing Strategy Symposium has just been released! The day is split into five themes –  inspiration, peer-sharing, bright ideas, support systems and synthesis – and is specifically designed to support music education hubs and schools to develop their singing strategies.

In the morning, hear from Out of the Ark, Opera Anywhere, and Milton Keynes Music Hub about how their innovative projects are supporting schools and teachers, and find out about the latest vocal pedagogy research from Cardiff University. Share your successes and challenges with other delegates, and discuss how you can support each other.

In the afternoon choose between workshops from Friday Afternoons and Sing for Pleasure, and presentations from Sing into Literacy and NYCGB, and then come back together to discuss how all the themes of the day can be carried into your own singing strategies.

Booking for this event closes on 1st October, so book soon to avoid disappointment!


SingSymp 2017 Timetable

The programme for the Jersey (CI) Music Conference has now been released. Open to anyone involved in music education across the Channel Islands and beyond, the conference contains sessions for primary, secondary and instrumental teachers. Follow the links below to view the programme and download the booking form.

Jersey CI Music Conference FINAL Programme

Booking Form for Web

The Music & Drama Education Expo is moving north, and we’re joining them!

We’ll be at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester on 4th October with lots of information about our products and services!

Visit us on our stand to browse our discounted resources, pick up a free instrument, and enter our competition to win a gin!


We must raise standards! We must ensure that all pupils get good GCSE grades!

How should we do that?

By making the exams harder!

Wait, what?

Exams must be harder! Exams have been getting easier and easier every year!

How do you know that?

Because more and more pupils are getting better grades!

Isn’t that because teachers and pupils are working harder each year to make sure that grades improve?

No! It’s because exams are getting easier. Exams must be harder!

How will that help pupils get better grades?

Because teachers and pupils will work harder to achieve better grades!

But if they get better grades at the harder exams, won’t that prove that the harder exams are getting easier?

Of course not! Stupid child! What did they teach you at school?!

Dr Elizabeth Stafford
23rd August 2017