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ACA Supports Bach to Baby

ACA Supports Bach to Baby

The critically acclaimed classical series Bach to Baby, is set up by mum and pianist  Miaomiao Yu after becoming frustrated at not being able to take her children to the sort of quality classical music concerts that she regularly enjoyed as a professional musician.

Miaomiao, an award-winning pianist,  wanted to perform for her son in a concert setting, but found it unrealistic for many reasons, including the late nights.

“And then I thought, this is silly: why not play for him and his friends and other babies and toddlers, at a kid-friendly time? The idea grew from there,” said Miaomiao, who is also a professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Miaomiao set about to design a rigorous musical programme for babies that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Proms. Programming range from Bach to Barber, from Chopin to Shostakovich. “I didn’t want to dumb it down for children. Studies show the positive effects of classical music and children are like little sponges at this stage.  Why shouldn’t they be allowed to experience the same high calibre performances as that enjoyed by adults in the best concert halls of the world?”  asks Miaomiao.

“I’ve been bringing my son Aubrey to concerts since he was 2 weeks old. He listened and slept and bounced to music,” says the mother of two rambunctious boys.  “He is enthralled, and proves my theory that children will thrive in a concert setting as long as they are given the opportunity in the first place.”

Miaomiao was encouraged by the overwhelming response to her first concert — one fan posted this video on Twitter . Bach to Baby now performs in 46 venues across London, Surrey, Kent, Thames Valley, and Essex, with special events at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall.

Instead of playing at modest community halls,  venues with a specific sense of atmosphere were chosen. “I want babies to enjoy sophisticated music and that’s aided by fantastic atmosphere and acoustics, as well as fabulous guest artists, ” said Miaomiao, adding that exhausted parents deserve an inspiring setting as much as anyone.

Being a mum first and foremost, Miaomiao welcomes all the frenzy that comes along with being a parent of a young child. “It’s about Mozart and Bach, feeding and crying, and dancing to music  – all of it,” said Miaomiao. “We haven’t made it through a concert without at least one nappy change. That’s the way it should be,” she said.

Concerts run from weekday mornings and afternoons, as well as Saturdays in locations across the South East. Their pre-concert “ Monmouth Coffee Mingle” offers much needed calories and company for mums.

The JM Barrie Awards 2016

The JM Barrie Awards 2016
Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for our annual JM Barrie Award celebrations last week. As ever, it was a wonderful reminder of all there is to celebrate in children’s arts and we are very grateful to the BBC for hosting.
Congratulations to Michael Morpurgo OBE, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award; Linda McClelland MBE, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution Award; and our five members award winners – Julian Butler, Nick Graham, Tom Jelley, AnneMarie MacDonald and Miaomiao Yu.
If you enjoyed the event as much as we did and are yet to become a member, please consider joining for only £30 a year: childrensarts.org.uk/join
To see more information on the day click here.

A Time to Dream

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

How do today’s children discover themselves and the world when everything has to be calculated, tested and evaluated? Where is our next Isaac Newton, lying under a tree, seeing the apple drop, and that sudden imaginative leap of realisation that there was such a thing as gravity? Are children given the space and time to explore, ponder and even be bored?

Politicians pursue higher and higher attainment in education but downplay the arts: music and drama are non-existent in many schools. So where does imagination fit? We are urged to admire the Tiger mother and the high achievers of Singapore. As with the Olympics, we want to be top, top, top and bathe vicariously in the incredible achievements of the very few, thinking, “that could be me if I only work hard enough.” In India, with its expanding middle class, children feel they must now get to nearly 100% in their exams if they are to make it into the small number of “top” universities. I had a long conversation with a twelve year old boy on his way back to one of India’s most prestigious schools. I asked him how he liked school, and he said with deep contempt, “I’m sick of it.”

I loved seeing children sitting on the beach by the sea in a recent blog – but hoped that they weren’t then having to collate their experiences; over analyse, articulate and compile their thoughts, for the sole purpose of being marked and assessed. Inspiration is the sister word to Imagination. It may only be 1% of the creative process, but without it……so if those children were on the beach to be inspired, then hooray! That should be our model. Writing is about communication; a tool for every child to give voice to who they are: their ideas; their take on the world. They can tell their stories and communicate their excitement, aspirations, humour, and troubles. I often visit schools where teachers tell me proudly that they have given me their best pupils – and how talented so and so is, but I want to cry out – no – give me your “lowest achievers”; they are the ones who need to find their voice.

Children can be desperately lacking in confidence, with low self esteem, who feel their own lives have no value. So I would put the arts and creativity firmly at the heart of the curriculum. They open doors; bring surprises and, we know, impacts on all their other work. If we, as teachers, can reveal to children, especially those imprisoned within inner city classrooms surrounded by high, barbed-wire fences, that there is an extraordinary world out there, and that the voice of every single one of them is important – no matter how stammering or timid – then we will uncork all their potential, and they will discover it for themselves. Give our children time to dream.

This post was kindly contributed by ACA Patron, Jamila Gavin. It was originally written for Arvon Teachers as Writers.

ACA Round-table on Primary Education

The event was introduced by ACA chair, David Wood. This roundtable aimed to bring together children’s arts practitioners with schools that prioritise the arts. Vicky Ireland, Vice-Chair introduced ACA, which is currently working to draw up a list of best-practice primary schools. This resource will be drawn upon for advice and representation at arts advocacy events. This was followed by presentations from the school representatives

 

To read the full report click on this link Action for Children’s Arts Round Table 29042016

ACA Meeting with Arts Council England

ACA Meeting with Arts Council England

ACA meeting January 11th with  Anne Appelbaum and Lindsey Pugh Senior Officers Children, Young People and Learning at Arts Council England, with David Wood, Chair and Vicky Ireland Vice-Chair, as suggested by Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England.

Aim of meeting

To find out about ACE current activities and thinking
To introduce ACA to officers
To share concerns
To consider solutions

Click here to read the report.

 

 

 

Raising a question with the House of Lords

Raising a question with the House of Lords

ACA meeting with  Baroness Bonham Carter’s DCMS policy group at the House of Lords

David Wood (Chair) and Vicky Ireland (Vice Chair) were invited to speak to this group, thanks to Patron Baroness Floella Benjamin.  Baroness Jane Bonham Carter is the Lib Dem spokesperson for Culture, Media and Sport.  Between 15-20 people attended, a mixture of parliamentarians and outside individuals who are invited because they have a particular CMS interest.  The aim of the group is to identify policy areas the group can work on and formulate an approach to oral questions in the house.

The aim of our visit was to have a question raised on our behalf, in the House of  Lords.

Click here to read the report.