In September 2017, Shake It Up - a unique music arrangement competition for schools - was launched. Last week, the competition came full circle and we celebrated the winner, runners up and shortlisted entrants at an awards ceremony in Central London. In this blog, we take a look back over the competition's first year and its journey from an idea in a notebook to a success story with six glorious finalists.
The concept of Shake It Up was imagined one day in the offices of the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). We wanted to engage further with music teachers and spread awareness of the Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML). A competition seemed the perfect way to promote understanding of the SPML, but also to celebrate the high quality of music education and the fantastic work of dedicated music teachers in the UK. A few brainstorming sessions later and Shake It Up was born!
Shake It Up launched in September 2017 and the first challenge the team faced was to reach music teachers about the competition! We forged a great relationship with Music Teacher magazine who became official sponsors of the competition, advertising and writing pieces on Shake It Up in both their print magazine and website. We busily wrote blogs and news stories, and the team also visited Manchester for the Music and Drama Education Expo North and relished the opportunity to meet music teachers face-to-face and have detailed conversations about the competition and its value. A similar opportunity came in 2018 at the Music and Drama Education Expo London. It's always a great experience to meet music teachers personally and to find out more about their work and what we can be doing to help improve their access to published printed music.
All of a sudden, the entries started to roll in. In fact, due to a flurry of entries in the last week of the competition, we decided to extend the deadline! The competition closed on the 23 March and the task of going through the entries and settling on a shortlist of finalists commenced. All the entries were of a high quality and we were deeply impressed by the diversity of the pieces chosen, the standard of the arrangements, and the passionate dedication evidenced by the music teachers in their written statements. However, a decision had to be reached and ultimately we decided on the following six finalists:
- Frazer Hinchley, Croft Primary School, for his arrangement of 'Eye of the Tiger'
- Sarah Fletcher, Our Lady and St Chad's, for her arrangement of 'I Giorni'
- Iain Wilkinson, Keswick School, for his arrangement of 'I Believe in Father Christmas'
- James Stevenson, North Oxfordshire Academy, for his arrangement of 'Float On'
- Peter Desmond, Welbourne Primary School, for his arrangement of 'Happy'
- Ian Raisbeck, Sandbach School, for his arrangement of 'Olympic Fanfare'
Each of these teachers had arranged skilful and enjoyable pieces of music that aptly suited the varied needs of their students. Each finalist had submitted an audio-visual recording of their students performing the pieces and were delighted by what we received. You could hear the fun and see the pride in the faces of each child as they took part in performing a piece of music they had spent time learning, and how their musical ability and confidence had grown. These recordings made evident the impact that music can have on a child, not only in terms of their educational growth, but their personal development as well.
In order to select a winner and runners up, we gathered a panel of star judges with experience from across the music industry. We were proud that our judges included YolanDa Brown, premier saxophonist and two-time MOBO winner; Chrissy Kinsella, CEO of the London Music Fund; Alex Stevens, Editor of Music Teacher magazine; Richard King, CEO of Faber Music; and Jane Dyball, CEO of the MPA Group. The panel was joined and coordinated by our own Sarah Brear. The judges came together on 2 May and locked themselves away for several hours to deliberate over the shortlist. Heated discussions were had, the performances were played and replayed, before finally they emerged, a winner in hand!
The awards ceremony took place on 10 May at the rooftop cafe of the PRS Offices. Set against the backdrop of stunning views of a sunny London, guests from across the music industry arrived, including our guests of honour - the six finalists. Drinks and canapes flowed while a jazz duo accompanied the chat and networking of the guests. Then, the ceremony began...
CLA's Paul Rollins, our compere for the evening, welcomed the room before introducing our first speaker, Jane Dyball. Jane spoke about the importance of printed music and the relevance it has in the musical education of a young person, describing her own experiences learning several instruments as a child. Next, YolanDa Brown gave an impassioned speech on the effect of music on young people, retelling a moving story about her own daughter's connection to music from a young age. She emphasised the right that every child has to have access to music and to a musical education.
Chrissy Kinsella then introduced a short clip of each finalist's entry, and each was met with great applause. All that remained was for YolanDa to return to the stage and reveal the results of the competition. Peter Desmond and Ian Raisbeck were congratulated as our two runners up and received £400 each for their schools, but it was Iain Wilkinson who took home first prize and £700 for his school's music department. Each of the six finalists also went home with a certificate recognising their achievement.
Shake It Up has been a resounding success, not simply because we have promoted awareness of the SPML, or because we have witnessed some of the excellent music education that goes on across the country, but because it brought true joy to the young musicians who took part. As one of our finalists said at the awards ceremony, "You have no idea how much this means to the children. They have enjoyed every minute of this competition and have each taken so much from it." Music education is so important, and we are proud that a competition like ours has enabled children to make music their own.
We are delighted to say that Shake It Up will return later this year! So keep an eye out on our dedicated web page and start thinking about what pieces you could arrange; you never know, we might be seeing you at next year's awards!