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Decolonialising the Music Curriculum: Sign the Petition

Music exam boards can play a role in shaping a more positive future by ensuring greater diversity in their syllabuses, as can making a change to the broader curriculum.

Published: 09 June 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of a statue of Slave Trader Edward Colston removed from its plinth by protestors in Bristol. Photo credit: Olumedia.co.uk
Music exam boards can play a role in shaping a more positive future by ensuring greater diversity in their syllabuses. Photo credit: Shutterstock

A new petition launched by piano teacher Grace Healy calls on the ABRSM to ensure the representation of Black composers on their syllabus. She explains in the introduction to the petition:

“The 2019/20 piano syllabus has a total of 158 set works from a variety of eras and musical genres. None of these works are written by a black composer, and only one of the set works is written by a BAME composer.”

Sign the petition to ensure the representation of Black composers on the ABRSM syllabus.

On the publication of this news story, the petition to Gavin Williamson, Secetary of State for Eduation to “make white privilege and systemic racism a compulsory part of the British education course,” had flown past its initial target of 150,000.

In the petition introduction, which you can read in full on Change.org, Eleanor Jolliffe explains how the UK’s current curriculum can lead “many adolescents to the impression that racism is an issue of the past as oppose to something we face daily.”

Sign the petition to call for education on white privilege and the history of racism to be a “mandatory part of the KS3 National Curriculum.”

Vice have also published a detailed article on contacting your MP to demand change to British race education, including a template letter.

Decolonialising the music curriculum

Last year we published a guest-blog from David Duncan, Publications Officer at London College of Music Examinations (LCM), exploring how exam boards can play a role in shaping a more positive future by ensuring greater diversity in their syllabuses.

Read the full blog, in which Duncan explores the question, “Is the role of the graded examination system to preserve these established norms or do exam boards have a part to play in shaping a more positive future?”

Covering protest music

Nate Holder’s blog on “Why 'protest music' lessons in 2020 must be different,” contains invaluable advice on teaching protest music in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement:

“It's frankly inexcusable to ignore the #BlackLivesMatter movement and simply talk about generic 'protest music', even in a facebook post. By referring to 'protest music' as 'Black Lives Matter protest music' or 'black protest songs in 2020' or anything else that includes the word 'black', you're sending a clear message to students and other teachers in these groups and forums. It shows that you are aware of what's happening, and you're not prepared to gloss over it.”

The article includes recommendations for Black British artists and bands who should be referenced. Read Holder’s full article on his blog here. Holder previously wrote a guest blog for the MU on “10 Tracks to Listen to this Black History Month.”

Other ways to support #BlackLivesMatter

Find further related actions, including places to donate and letter templates for writing to your MPs on The Black Curriculum's website.

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