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Music learning through partnership

2 years ago
ABRSM’s Partnership Manager, Olivia Funnell, takes a look at our flourishing collaborations with a wide range of organisations that all share our passion for music.
From its very inception, ABRSM’s commitment to providing the best resources and assessments for inspiring musical achievement was founded on collaboration, with our Royal Schools partners. At the same time, the expertise contributed by composers, examiners and teachers has always been fundamental to everything we do. 
Our vision now reaches beyond music exams as we aim to enhance musical opportunity for a wider range of learners and all those supporting them. Collaboration and partnership with other organisations is essential to achieving this.
Adaptability is key
Our investment in partnership programmes is increasing year on year. This takes the form of financial support and collaboration, where the value for teacher and learner is always the focus. We maintain an open-minded approach to working with partners that enables us to remain alive to the current challenges and needs of music education and adapt accordingly. This also leads to more ambitious projects!
Practical initiatives, no fees attached
As Classic FM’s Music Education Partner, we jointly aim to raise the profile of music teaching and support teachers. Initiatives have included Shine (our 2017 event celebrating music teaching and learning) and Classical 100 (a free online resource for UK primary schools). We have also worked with Music Mark and the GLA (Greater London Authority) to develop Learn Music London, an online guide to help parents find music-learning opportunities for their children. These practical and tangible initiatives are free for users.
Working with youth ensembles
We are proud of our close relationship with, and sponsorship of, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Alongside their primary activity of providing ensemble experiences for highly gifted young musicians, these organisations deliver carefully designed education programmes that bring excellent musical opportunities to a much wider range of young people. They engage with music services and hubs to provide projects to suit local and regional needs, and I would encourage teachers, schools and parents to find out what’s on offer in their area and get involved.
A sustainable future for music
When developing partnerships we look for activities which focus on one or more of the following: leadership, access, progression and excellence.
The leadership strand is about ensuring that musicians are equipped with the confidence and skills to convey their artistic ideas and direct ensembles, and are ready to inspire and nurture the next generation of musicians. In 2018 we are working with Southbank Sinfonia as they embark on an audience engagement programme, and with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Women Conductors programme – both are exciting new partnerships with a fresh focus for us. 
We also support programmes that provide access to quality musical experiences for state schools, community centres and music services and hubs around the UK. We believe that as many young people as possible should have the opportunity to be involved in music and continue their musical development. Our International Sponsorship Fund supports similar initiatives globally.
Being able to progress and see improvement has a big part to play in providing motivation and creating a sense of personal satisfaction. Whatever the type of music, it is easier to reach your goal if there are clear pathways to guide your development. The National Youth ensembles have developed wider regional programmes to provide training for more musicians, help them measure their progress and understand what it takes to play in the national level ensembles.
And so to excellence. ‘Never give less than your best’ is an adage used by many a teacher! We only work with organisations that provide the highest quality training to ensure learners achieve their potential – from grassroots to pre-professional. 
No limits to what, when or how
Music provides opportunities to collaborate and communicate, experiment and enjoy, at all stages and in all styles. To highlight this, we seek to work more with organisations that reach beyond classical repertoire and encourage learners of all ages. 
Our involvement in the London Music Fund’s Playing Days, sponsorship of NYJO and collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Luminate Scotland to explore ways to support later learners, are a few examples. 
All our partnerships are intended to expand opportunities for learners and teachers to make music in a way that suits them.
Future developments
With the help of our partners, we are currently developing our Classical 100 resource to provide further inspirational learning materials for classroom teachers, and will be supporting the development of new versions of Learn Music London for other locations. We are also exploring how we can support cultural education initiatives in other regions in the UK and further afield. 
In many ways our partnership work represents how much ABRSM itself has developed – evolving to provide a broader and richer musical experience for learners and teachers that’s about much more than just graded music exams.

Learn more about our partnerships and sponsorship activities.
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