The Mayor's office has produced an interesting new document for those involved in music in the capital, which it calls the London Music Pledge. The pledge appears to involve the Mayor declaring that music is 'an essential part of every child's education' before outlining five steps to be taken by his office to ensure music remains a core part of London children's lives, on the cheap.
The five pledges are:
- Creation of a team of London Music Champions to advise headteachers. With a name like London Music Champions we've no doubt only the coolest stars will be elbowing each other aside to get involved.
- Reminding teachers that they can get free 'continuing professional development' in music teaching up to key stage 3. We've read this bit over and over, and it seems very much as though this is an existing thing dressed up in a new coat.
- Jargon-free advice for parents. The Mayor's office will 'carry out research to find out what information parents need and how they'd like to receive it'. Make of that what you will.
- The Mayor's Music Fund currently helps young musicians with a few bob - 6,500 people so far with an average of just over £38 each - to help them afford music lessons. Very cheap music lessons, apparently. The pledge in this case seems to be to not put an end to this remarkable generosity.
- The London Music Awards is a recently introduced ceremony to which the Mayor now plans to add a new gong - a 'thank you' award to schools with an outstanding commitment to music. Wow.
These five not-exactly-new pledges have been cobbled together with the undoubtedly laudable aim of getting people to think more carefully about music education in London, at a time when the government is taking flak for telling kids to ignore the arts if they ever want to get a job. And in a frightening echo of David Cameron's 'Big Society' wheeze, the Mayor is looking to rope in teachers, parents and anyone of note in the music industry to fill the gaps not met by City Hall.
To that end a page on the GLA website asks those interested to make their own pledges in wording that makes us wonder quite what the Mayor's office think these people do the rest of the time. Teachers should pledge to 'Take students to hear a live music performance', using their own money presumably, and 'Read and act upon Ofsted’s short guidance for heads and teachers', which you'd like to think was part of their job description already. Parents meanwhile should 'Encourage music-making as part of your child’s life'. Plainly they wouldn't be reading about this London Music Pledge if they didn't do that already.
It's tricky not to be sniffy about a pledge from the Mayor's office which doesn't seem to offer anything new, but which seems to have been thrown together as a response to recent concerns about arts and music funding while at the same time asking put-upon teachers and parents to dig a little deeper in terms of both time and money to ensure kids don't forget how important music can be. The idea of a London Music Pledge is an excellent one, but shuffling this out to a stony-faced audience is hardly what's required.