As many of you know, for the past few months, I've spent a lot of time writing and speaking about many different issues around music education in the UK, decolonisation and EDI. It's been a tremendous learning curve and I feel honoured to have virtually met and spoken with many people who I've come to admire, and some who I can now call friends.
Last week I had the pleasure of Zooming with two Year 5 classes from a school in Essex. The purpose of the session was for them to learn a bit about my work and experience as a full-time musician (pre-COVID), but also to share a few interesting stories from my books. To see their faces and reactions when I told them about Errollyn Wallen writing a piece with an astronaut, Robert Glasper's links with hip hop and who taught Harry Connick Jr, was a timely reminder of why I, and many others, do what we do. It was amazing!
This is a short post, and perhaps one that doesn't really need to be written, but I just want to encourage all who this pertains to, to remember that in our differing views on the canon, how we use language, curricula and pedagogy (etc), there are children who are hungry for a wide range of music. Children ready to devour and explore music which they can relate to, understand and share. Children who rarely see themselves represented outside of Black History Month, and others who don't see themselves represented at all. Children who are trying to make sense of who they are and the world around them.
It made me think and reflect - who are we really fighting for? Our own sense of good or bad music? What we think constitutes a good musical education? Our own career trajectories? Asking myself some of these questions led me to write 'Why Is My Piano Black And White', and 'Where Are All The Black Female Composers?' - to introduce children to people and music outside of what they may normally come across in mainstream education. To leave them with questions, people and ideas which motivates them to discover all things music for themselves. I'm looking forward to doing more sessions like that and making more content to help broaden young minds.