Media Release: Investment in early years’ music education considered key to social and economic well-being

RCS - Jeffrey Sharkey

International Society for Music Education, Glasgow 24-29 July (ISME)

GIVING children good music education from early years onwards is one of the best social investments that can be made in the next generation, the principal of Scotland’s national conservatoire told delegates at a leading international conference opening in Glasgow.

Addressing more than 2,000 of the world’s leading music academics, researchers, performers and musicians at the International Society for Music Education conference – which opened in Glasgow (Sunday, July 24), (ISME) – Professor Jeffrey Sharkey issued a call to action challenging governments and education authorities world-wide to harness the transformative power of music to improve academic attainment of individuals and the well-being of communities.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey said: “Good music education is an essential part of a vibrant society.

“We need engaged teachers and we need recognition and support from parents, schools, local authorities and governments to ensure as many children as possible have access to it, as early as possible.

“Music education is not only a route to excellence and a conservatoire-style education, it is a proven jumpstart to improvement in attainment across the curriculum, as well as supporting the critical qualities of a good society such as open thinking, creativity, focus and collaboration, to name but a few.

“At a time when too many people feel they have no voice, that they are at the mercy of events and decision beyond their control, at the point where they might lose hope, as musicians and educators, we can give them a voice and we can give them hope.

“As music-makers, we articulate what people often find too painful to say, we speak truth to power, we convene ideas and we create communities when forces have set them asunder.  We capture joy, imprint memories and reveal hidden truths.”

The conference, attended by delegates from more than 84 countries, is one of world’s most influential forums for music education debate, where new agendas and strategies for music education are explored by senior academics, educators and policy makers.

Some of the key topics to be explored during the week-long event include improving collaborative practice, fostering global intercultural understanding, and support of music-making and education for all.

Also addressing delegates at the official opening ceremony in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and Sheila Woodward, president of ISME.

Guest speakers and performers at the conference include three-times Grammy nominated, two-times Brit nominated, singer/songwriter, Joan Armatrading; percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, who performs worldwide with the greatest conductors and orchestras; and musician, Randy Weston, who has released more than 60 recordings since 1955, including works for solo piano, orchestra, compilations and many featuring his African Rhythms ensemble.

There will also be a number of performances including the screening of the iconic 1927 silent movie, IT, with live orchestra conducted by Patrick Doyle.

The IT project is a culmination of months of collaboration between young musicians from North and South Lanarkshire schools and members of the Junior Royal Conservatoire who have been coached by Patrick Doyle and his team of professionals on the complexities of playing for film.

Delegates will also be treated to performances by Laurence Juber, the Palestinian Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Notes to editors:

Media opportunities:

Sunday 24 July 2016

6.30pm – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Opening ceremony led by Phil Cunningham

Monday 25 July 2016

10.10am – Welcome speeches from principal of RCS, Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, and Michael Elliott, chief executive of ABRSM

10.15am – Sheila Woodward, president of ISME introduces Dame Evelyn Glennie, the first keynote speaker, GRCS main auditorium

7.30pm – Headline concert: RCS alumnus and Harry Potter composer, Patrick Doyle, conducts the ‘IT Project’ concert

Tuesday 26th July

10.15-10.45 Keynote speaker: Darren Henley OBE

7.30 Headline concert: Palestine Youth Orchestra

Wednesday 27th July

10.15-11.45 Keynote speaker: Joan Armatrading MBE

6.30-7.30 Headline concert: National Youth Orchestra of Scotland concert

Thursday 28th July

10.15-11.45 Keynote speaker: Randy Weston

7.00-8.00 Headline concert: Grammy Award-winning artist, Laurence Juber. World-renowned London session player, performed with Paul McCartney’s Wings as lead guitarist, and has a global solo career as an innovative fingerstyle guitar composer and performer

8.00 ISME Headline jazz concert featuring Tommy Smith’s Youth Jazz Orchestra

Friday 29th July

4.30-6.00 Closing ceremony, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Media enquiries: Katie Bell

T: 0141 270 8387


For a complete listing of all the events at the 32nd World Conference – International Society for Music Education Glasgow, Glasgow 24-29 July

- To request media tickets

ISME stats and facts:

  • When: 24-29 July 2016
  • Where: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, National Piping Centre, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Theatre Royal
  • Keynote speakers: Dame Evelyne Glennie, Joan Armatrading, Darren Henley and Randy Weston
  • 1,500 delegates
  • 84 countries
  • More than 400 performances
  • More than 500 sessions.The International Society for Music Education (ISME) was formed at a conference convened by UNESCO in 1953 ‘to stimulate music education as an integral part of general education’. This has been ISME’s main concern over the past decades and continues to be its most important source of motivation. Present in over 80 countries, ISME is affiliated to the International Music Council and UNESCO and is the premiere international organisation for music education.ISME believes that lived experiences of music, in all their many aspects, are a vital part of the life of all people. Its mission is to enhance those experiences by:

    * building and maintaining a worldwide community of music educators characterised by mutual respect and support;

    * fostering global intercultural understanding and cooperation among the world’s music educators; and

    * promoting music education for people of all ages in all relevant situations throughout the world.

    About the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

    The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is ranked sixth in the world for performing arts education (*QS World University Ranking). The Conservatoire is a national and international centre of excellence for the performing arts. RCS is ranked highest in Scotland for employability rates for graduates (*HESA).

    Building on our roots in 1847 as a national academy of music, we are now one of Europe’s most multi-disciplinary performing arts higher education centres offering specialised teaching across music, drama, dance, film and production as well as encouraging trans-disciplinary learning throughout our innovative curriculum.

    We are bold, ambitious and optimistic about our future as a truly 21st century conservatoire. As we work towards 2020, our goal, through our students, staff and graduates, is to raise the transformative power and reach of the performing arts in Scotland and to project our distinctiveness to the wider world. Our vision is to be Scotland’s globally-recognised and inspirational leader in learning for the performing arts, attracting and nurturing the best Scottish and international creative talent.


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