4 Girls 4 Harps Christmas album of the year?

575928_10152688812635052_1955176419_n4 Girls 4 Harps – a quartet comprising of Harriet Adie, Eleanor Turner, Keziah Thomas and Elizabeth Scorah – are among the contenders to be named Christmas Album of 2013 by David Mellor during his New Releases Show on Saturday.

They’re up against the likes of Incarnation: Christmas Music by Thomas Hewitt Jones, Angels Sing: Christmas in Ireland and Rejoice and Be Merry: Organ Music for Christmas, with the announcement due to be made on December 21st, between 9pm and 10pm.

Speaking about 4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas, Mellor said: “Pure joy. The ideal accompaniment for having a drink and a mince pie.”

To hear who comes out on top, make sure you tune into Classic FM on December 21st. We’ll be doing so, with glass of sherry and mince pie in hand.

SymbolSmash to help kids learn classical music

Baby-musicIntroducing children to classical music at a young age is something we here at the Two Moors Festival are keen to support and we can often be found in schools across the south-west holding workshops and teaching youngsters about different instruments, music and composers, getting them as involved as we can.

There are so many tools at our disposal these days thanks to technology and there are a lot of apps teachers can download as educational resources to help boost their lessons. After all, if it’s on a phone children might be more inclined to pick it up and pay attention! The latest app to come out is from SymbolSmash, set up by Marion Musry who has been teaching music and working with young people for 20 years.

The music on the app has been specifically chosen with children aged between the ages of two and eight in mind, beginning with Voyage to the Moon by Jacques Offenbach, with notation and symbols brought to life by different characters like Crescendo Croc, Violet the Violin and Penelope Piano.

At £1.49 a download on the iPad, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment, particularly if it inspires youngsters to immerse themselves more in the classical music world. Some of the games are a bit simplistic and like many others to be found on the iPad – just for fun with not much educational value, so older children may not get as much out of it as younger ones but as an introduction to classical music this app is a great choice.

Good music education ‘only reaching minority of pupils’

Some of 2013's winners

Followers of the Two Moors Festival will know how much work we do with pupils in schools across the south-west of the UK, putting on workshops with professional musicians and giving them the opportunity to take part in the festival every year, so it was with interest that we read of a new Ofsted report stating that a quality music education only reaches a minority of students.

Although it was found that the 120 music hubs set up as part of the government’s Music Plan to reorganise music support services had brought “vitality” and “energy” to teaching, very little was too often expected of pupils and only a handful of students were benefiting.

Michael Cladingbowl, director of schools policy at Ofsted, said: “Music is a demanding academic discipline, developed through exciting practical musical activity. However, the vast majority of the schools visited shied away from teaching pupils about fundamental aspects of music as they thought it too difficult. All children, not just the privileged few, should enjoy a good music education.”

How do you think this can be tackled? What would you like to see the festival doing, alongside our workshops?