My musical inspiration
ABRSM’s Teaching and Learning Development Director, Lincoln Abbotts, is leading the way as we develop the practical support we offer to teachers. Here he shares the passion and inspiration he’ll be bringing to this role.
My musical journey
‘Do you remember me?’ Standing in the foyer at the ABRSM teachers’ conference in Manchester last year, these words – followed by ‘I accompanied you for your Grade 5 Flute exam’ – made me smile. I smiled because, of course, I remembered this fantastic teacher in the same way that I remember all my teachers and all the role model musicians who have been part of my musical journey so far. And I could still remember one of the pieces I played in that exam, Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Gluck – a beautiful, lyrical piece, full of energy and life. That was 35 years ago (I got a merit!), and music still makes me smile, whether I’m teaching, performing, listening, discovering, conducting or composing. I’m approaching my role at ABRSM as someone who cares passionately about music, who continues to be involved in all kinds of music making, and has learnt a huge amount through teaching.
A common passion
ABRSM is an international organisation where one passion – for music – is common to all. As teachers, we all care about sharing our musical insight, understanding and curiosity. ABRSM’s syllabuses are full of great music, from Bach to Bartók and from traditional Irish folksongs to the legendary music of Abdullah Ibrahim. It’s our job as teachers to bring that music to life – looking at it from all angles and with enthusiasm and inspiration.
The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses while poets Shelley and Coleridge believed it came through being attuned to the mystical ‘winds’. For me, it comes from exploring the links that exist between different music, musicians and learning styles. I’m a big fan of making connections that are musically rich and educationally sound and that can take us, and our students, on an exhilarating journey of discovery. There are other connections worth fostering too. As teachers working with ABRSM you are part of a far-reaching and vibrant network made up of many different communities. We want to support you by helping to connect you with like-minded colleagues in these communities. I also want to celebrate the fact that in your one-to-one and small-group teaching you develop technical facility, listening skills and musical understanding, enabling your students to progress through graded music exams, but also opening up other interconnected opportunities. The same learning gives your students the skills to participate in formal and informal ensemble music making; take part in ambitious and surprising collaborations; create their own musical identity in and out of a classroom; and hear music in a more informed way.
A new approach
At ABRSM we want to support you in everything you do as teachers, in terms of customer service and also through innovative new services that will evolve over time. Building on the ground-breaking professional development courses that ABRSM has offered since 1996 we have set ourselves a challenge to increase and broaden the support and inspiration we offer to teachers around the world. Our vision is to build a foundation of online and published resources that will provide practical guidance as well as thought-provoking and inspiring ideas. The starting point for this will be the music that ABRSM champions and that you teach. This foundation will then be complemented by a range of face-to-face networking opportunities, together with tailored programmes of professional support. Projects underway include the development of a range of innovative digital resources inspired by our new Woodwind syllabuses, which we are launching in July; active participation in the Music Education Expo and Music Learning Live Asia conferences in London and Singapore – both designed to bring together and inspire music teachers from all backgrounds; and involvement in the development and future delivery of a new qualification for music educators. Right now, I plan to keep smiling as I champion the wonderful job that you do. ABRSM wants to support and inspire you so that you can support and inspire your students. They’ll remember you for it!
This article was originally featured in the January 2013 edition of Libretto, ABRSM's magazine.