Expo 2018 preview 25 January 2018

The sixth London Music & Drama Education Expo will take place at Olympia Central on 22 and 23 February. Thanks to the support of its sponsors, exhibitors and, of course, its delegates, the show is once again free to attend:  just register for your free place and come along for an inspiring two days of workshops, performances, interviews, seminars, networking, demonstrations and general all-round inspiration!

Changing times

Times are changing in music education. MT readers might feel that they’ve just about got their heads around the National Plan for Music Education, but it only lasts until 2020: England’s music teachers will be needing a new one soon. Music education hubs are settling into their role as more open, flexible, entrepreneurial versions of the old music services, and this is leading to opportunities for useful partnerships and lots of new, diverse, inspiring and useful initiatives.

For example, Bristol Music Trust, and the local hub, Bristol Plays Music, are working with a long list of partners to create a National Centre for Inclusive Excellence. At this year’s Expo, Bristol-based OpenUp Music will be presenting the latest on what is becoming a national movement: and at the Expo on 23 February, OpenUp Music’s musical director Doug Bott will demonstrate how Open Orchestras work with Bristol University’s Marina Gall, who will share the findings of her recent research into the musical, educational and social impact of these ensembles.

And in terms of planning past 2020, the Music Education Council is convening a panel on the next ten years of music education, giving delegates the chance to find out how music education policy might take shape after the remit of the national plan expires.

Hearing from teachers

The Expo also provides the chance to find out from actual music teachers, rather than managers and chief executives, what they think and how they work. Expo in general is perfect for establishing new relationships – it’s a room full of working music teachers, so you can strike up a conversation with pretty much anybody – but on 22 February a flipped panel of actual teachers (the people in front of the whiteboards, not behind the desks) will talk about their professional lives and discuss how best to engage them.

There will also be the chance to find out how best to advocate for music education sector from the ISM, whose staunch efforts have been behind the high-profile Bacc for the Future campaign: Kevin Rogers of Hampshire Music Service and the ISM’s Head of External Affairs Henry Vann will provide the practical strategies, tips and data needed to make the case for music to people at all levels.

And as the new GCSEs bed in, we will have some strategies for the new 1-9 grading system, and a look at the new Edexcel music technology A-level – as well as a number of sessions providing ideas for encouraging creativity and supporting composition, including how to put singing at the heart of A-level lessons.

Behind the resources

This year we will be introducing Creatives’ Corner, which will allow visitors to meet the faces behind the teaching books and resources they use every day: a rolling programme of meet-and-greets with top authors, allowing delegates to ask the questions they always wanted to ask.

Alongside the new Creatives’ Corner there will again be a programme of ‘sharing labs’, bringing teachers and practitioners together to discuss particular areas of practice and pedagogy. And the exhibition will once again be full to the rafters with industry colleagues, all of whom will be only too happy to discuss their products, services and ideas.