‘Where words fail, music speaks’…… so said Hans Christian Andersen.
Indeed, and not disputed, but first, these words from SAME are not yet failing.
It is often said that music is a universal language: no-one but no-one is untouched by music. Sounds and music are in us from our very first breath and hearing – and even before – and as soon as intelligence abounds within the human, opinion, likes and dislikes of music – styles, genres, repertoire, tunes etc – form and are expressed. Put another way, everyone has an opinion on music and everyone is an expert! So far, so good.
What would life be like without music? It’s impossible even to consider such a question or situation. Music permeates every known aspect of life, is present in so many shapes and forms and engages with us all in one way or another – no, in many, many ways.
None of this is to suggest preference or to prioritise one style or genre of music over another – but there has to be universal recognition that any type of music – period, geographical or cultural basis or origin – is valid and accepted in society.
Music education is a vital component of life’s curriculum. Preparing and training the future music leaders, performers and teachers is a key function of music education and if an education system or even a civilisation starts to devalue the place of music, not only is there a lowering of music as a professional element in society, there would be an emerging loss of the power and effect of the benefits of music education, benefits such as contribution to enlightenment, to balance in life, to team participation and sharing, to a breadth of knowledge and experience – and many more besides. Who can deny or argue against the vital place of music in the wonderful work undertaken by music therapists and in the role of music with dementia sufferers.
Then there is the emotion of music as well as the music of emotion. Never was there a time when the health and wellbeing of all, both physical and mental, was more under a spotlight and the importance of music, nay the essentiality of it, is documented, understood and accepted in all corners of the world.
Music is a life-long feature of our existence. The learning in and through music at, eg, school, carries potential for life and living. Adults at any and all stages of life engage in music making. It is a social thing, it enhances living, it supports health and wellbeing – and in the learning place of younger adults and school students, it is now proven without doubt that engagement with music supports emotional and actual intelligence and development. 89% of UK adults believe that playing an instrument benefits mental health.
So what has all that to do with the Scottish Association for Music Education? And the answer is everything. SAME emerged some 25 years ago from the embers of the Scottish Music Advisers Association and the Scottish Schools Music Association to form an energetic, pro-active and forwardlooking body the constitutional aims of which are ‘to advance the education of the children attending schools in Scotland in all aspects of music.’ SAME has some 750 members, mostly in Scotland but with a smattering of colleagues across the UK and a fair number of people in a variety of other countries. Membership is open to all who are involved in any aspect of music education – teachers in all sectors, instructors, HE/FE colleagues, those in appropriate local authority posts, trainers, wider music making and commercial outfits with education branches and interest – and is free of cost.
SAME’s website www.same.org.uk and growing use of social media keeps its name and purpose at the forefront of music education today. The Association is run by an elected committee covering all sectors of the education profession – early years, primary, secondary, ASN, music technology, Instrumental and community and the personnel involved are as widely spread, geographically, as possible. In addition, a team of Ambassadors, one in each Local Authority area plus HE and the Independent network ensures that communication is as widespread as possible.
Since 1997, SAME has held an annual conference event, for many years now over two days, open to all music educationists, often attracting up to 300 delegates with an offering of three or four hourlong slots of pertinent and up-to-date CPD and enquiry. Keynote speakers and performers of the highest calibre, both UK and international, have visited, delegates have regularly participated in massed music making events and an exhibition village of retailers, assessors and trainers has given the music teaching profession of Scotland a unique element in supporting the work which they do with all young learners. Presenters and topics have varied enormously over the years and colleagues clamour to return when SAME offers its conferences. Unfortunately, Conference 24 planned for September 2020 had to be cancelled. In addition, five specific music technology conferences have supported developments in that branch of music education while one-off events covering singing, good practice and management have supplemented an on-going and much sought-after scaffolding where, as reported by delegates, there has been little else of offer across the country. In addition, SAME has contributed greatly to developments in music education, is consulted by enquirers, by official bodies and works with colleagues in other parts of the UK. SAME works alongside HITS, the body dealing with instrumental work, is a member of the Music Education Council and deals regularly with ABRSM, SQA and TCL (Trinity) as well as Scotland’s new Music Education Partnership Group and the ISM.
SAME has not been idle during the enforced closure of schools. Indeed, it took that opportunity to revise and refresh its operations resulting in positive steps to further support the learning and teaching of music. At the start of lockdown, SAME engineered a series of online Resources, offering links to activities from a wide range of providers, from professional performers to technology. The aim was to give teachers, pupils, parents and families some meaningful and useful materials and activities. The Resources http://same.org.uk/resources/ are available on SAME’s website www.same.org.uk as well as its social media channels and are updated as refreshed information became available from partners. The link remains active and supportive. In mid-June SAME hosted a very popular webinar covering music in the primary school and the virtual teaching thereof. Since the re-opening of schools in August, SAME has been holding a series of virtual staffroom chats for secondary, primary and instrumental colleagues and is working on further webinars to support teachers and learners.
All school music teaching colleagues contribute to the development of their subject and to opportunities for their students through extra-curricular choral, music theatre, instrumental ensemble etc activities and events. ‘Extra-‘ literally indicating outside or additional to duties has always been a misnomer especially in the Arts and PE faculties, the resultant benefits and activities being seen as complementary rather than supplementary. Indeed, the term ‘co-curricular’ appears more often where enlightenment abounds.
The members of the Scottish Association for Music Education are passionate about their subject, about teaching and about caring for and nurturing young people through music. Their passion extends to understanding the artistic as well as scientific place of music education. Most of their charges will not progress to a career in music but they will experience a lifetime of joy as players, singers, listeners, concert attenders etc. If music education dwindles and is not allowed to provide this ladder to a better life, the population will be all the poorer. Teachers and leaders in music, music therapy, dementia are key workers.
As a CODA, SAME strongly believes that music making in all its forms must return across the country at the earliest opportunity in both amateur and professional formats.