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real voice in policy making. At a more basic level, I really do love the whole process of seeing an article through, from commissioning to receiving the text, editing it, choosing pictures and eventually seeing it in print. I’m about to start teaching myself

to play the electronic keyboard, courtesy of Yamaha and I’ll be recording my experiments with this new instrument in a series of MT articles starting in the summer.

enough time to follow up ideas as promptly or thoroughly as I would like. It can also be quite difficult to persuade teachers with relevant expertise to write the kind of articles on specific aspects of instrumental or vocal teaching that their colleagues want to read. Some have no interest in writing while others just don’t have time. It can be a challenge to achieve the right balance between research- based articles written by professional journalists and practice-based articles written by professional music teachers.

What I love about my job

I love having the excuse to see so many wonderful performances by young people, particularly at events such as the National Festival of Music for Youth, in which vocal and instrumental ensembles of every description and from all round the UK now take part. I never tire of watching children playing or singing together. MT is a much respected publication with a distinguished history – we celebrated our centenary in 2008 – and I relish the fact that it is taken seriously by leaders of the profession, which means our readers can have a

Hot topics in music education

The most significant issue in music education at the moment is the challenge of turning the first-access instrumental and vocal tuition programmes that have been introduced in recent years, as a result of a decade of effective lobbying, into opportunities from which the children who benefit from these programmes can carry on to intermediate and advanced training. Related to that is the need to ensure that children from all sections of society are given opportunities for advanced musical training. And I am concerned about the divide that seems to have opened up between teachers who focus exclusively on popular music and those who focus exclusively on western classical music. I’ve been shocked by the hostility that I’ve sometimes seen between exponents of each genre at teachers’ conferences. In contrast, some of the most creative and skilful young musicians often switch easily between playing double bass in a youth orchestra to bass guitar in a band, listening to heavy metal on their MP3 players to singing Palestrina.

Pride and joy

Obviously I’m proud of all our articles, but I’d prefer to single out just one. Last year we commissioned one of our freelance contributors, Marian Blaikley, to investigate the number of hours spent on music by students on Initial Teacher Training Courses around the UK. Unsurprisingly, she found that it was usually four hours, often even less, in a year-long or sometimes even a three-year degree course. Despite our very limited budget Marian produced a genuinely useful piece of research which supports the opinion of many music educationalists that the quality of music teaching in schools will never really improve until non-specialist primary school teachers receive adequate training that helps them to feel more confident in delivering the subject.


1. Become an expert: listen avidly and read what musicians, critics and others say and write. In education circles learn from the online music education network, as well as from publications like Music Teacher

2. Gain experience by writing your own blog or reviews of school or college productions or events. Interview key people and ask the so-called '6 Ws': who, what, why, where, when & how.

3. Read a range of publications regularly and find a journalist whose writing you admire.

4. Look out for interesting news stories or feature ideas and submit them for consideration to the editor of a relevant publication.

5. Don't just send a CV and say you’re available for work. It'll join a very large pile of similar applications or will go straight in the bin.

6. Do make a concise, persuasive case for an article on a specific subject and you may very well be commissioned to write it.

7. Address the editor by name and show that you are familiar with the content of the magazine and understand why your article might be interesting to its readers.

8. Be prepared for rejection, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response immediately. Just keep trying and hope that one day your luck will change and your idea will be just what’s wanted.

9. Learn to spell, punctuate and use grammar correctly. Editors hate having to spend time correcting poorly written copy. Make it a matter of professional pride!

10. And don’t expect to get rich!

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