What do we need from the Certificate of Music Education?

  • by Rhythmix

    Wednesday, 7 August, 2013 - 09:22

At Rhythmix we are constantly seeking to build skills in our region, both within our own working team and beyond. So we are, as you would expect, very supportive of the new Level 4 Certificate for Music Education.

Assessment and accreditation of the music education sector can and should lead to a better workforce in the future, with young people the undoubted beneficiaries of trained and highly skilled music leaders.

However, It has been a constant thread of the discussions between what we used to generally refer to as the "formal" and "non-formal" music educations sectors (broadly those working through the local music services and those working through other suppliers or as freelancers - yes, we know, it's a terrible generalisation!) about how to assess and achieve that accreditation for an existing workforce that includes some of our best music leaders.

We hope that the Level 4 Certificate of Music Education (CME) will be able to address this need. 

The proposal we have currently seen from Trinity College includes a requirement to undertake 320 hours of learning time, including 185 hours of guided learning, underpinned by a currently unquantified statement that "Learners with significant prior knowledge and experience will require less time." This statement is the key to encouraging the development of the CME as the accepted "kite mark" for quality assurance, and thereby inspiring confidence in the potential clients in schools and elsewhere that a music leader with a CME is genuinely "the best of the best". For the CME to achieve that standard, a model of accreditation with a very substantially reduced time and financial commitment will be required. 

If the CME can only represent newly qualified music educators, it will undermine its own intent from launch, and runs the risk of pitting newly qualified, accredited but untested CME holders against a highly skilled, established workforce with years of experience, knowledge and connections. 

Rhythmix itself might consider becoming a provider of of the certificate, sitting alongside and integrating with our existing CPD and Training, but we currently feel unable to do that whilst it remains unclear who will quantifiy the impact of experience and existing skills upon the required learning time

We look forward to seeing proposals from Trinity, ABRSM and others that take on board the needs of existing excellent practitioners.

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chriswalters321's picture

Hi - I'm the person developing the CME at Trinity. First of all, just to clarify, the CME is worth 32 credits, which equates roughly to 320 hours of learning (assuming limited prior learning). This applies whoever is awarding it. Similarly, the assessment principles, including recognition of prior learning, are also universal and not determined by any one awarding body. These principles in full can be found here: http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/groups/musical-inclusion/discussions/le...

One of the key considerations when the CME was being written was that it should recognise prior learning in order for it to be relevant to music educators at any stage of their career. Equally, for it to have value as a qualification, it must recognise prior learning in a way that is rigorous and fit for purpose.

Essentially, evidence of prior learning will be assessed in the same way as any other evidence: it will be judged against the CME's assessment criteria. For example, a non-specialist primary teacher could use their PGCE and other CPD to show that they meet particular criteria. For practitioners whose experience and knowledge is not evidenced by formal qualifications, it will be a case of working out how that experience can be made to demonstrate clearly that the assessment criteria have been met. This might involve obtaining references, creating new documents and so on. It will be different for everyone, hence the phrase 'Learners with significant prior knowledge and experience will require less time' - it's hard to be specific.

Will it be possible to achieve the CME entirely with evidence of prior learning and no fresh evidence? In theory yes, but in practice unlikely. Even the most experienced music educator is likely to need to 'top up' in certain areas, although this route to the CME is likely to be considerably quicker than that of music educators who are relatively new to the profession.

It's hard to cover every aspect of this issue in a short forum post, but please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss it further, and of course to talk about what's involved in becoming a centre - christopher.walters@trinitycollege.co.uk

Rhythmix's picture

Thanks for the response Christopher, and it is good to hear that the need to recognise the skills of the existing workforce has obviously formed such an integral part of the thinking around building the CME.

As we stated above, we see the question of who quantifies and how as crucial to the success of establishing recognition for the CME. We will certainly contact you to see what role we might be able to play in answering that question.

Sound Sense's picture

Hi -
As one of the team who helped write the qualification I agree with Chris. It was very important to us in the non-formal sector that prior learning should be recognised (though we just might challenge Chris on his feeling that everyone will need some top up learning).

Rhythmix’s concern about “who quantifies” the value of prior learning is actually the same as the broader question of “who quantifies” the value of newly-acquired knowledge/skills/understanding for any candidate - and that’s the whole point of the validation process for providers that Trinity and ABRSM are putting together now.

The issue for Sound Sense has been all along that it’s the *curriculum* under the qualification that’s the more important: a CME awarded through ABRSM is likely to imply something different (not better or worse just different) from a CME awarded through Trinity. This is likely to be the same with different provider sectors too; a CME using the curriculum of the European Piano Teachers Association, say (and I’ve no idea whether they’re wanting to become a provider, I just made that up) is likely to imply something different to a CME from the non-formal sector. That’s all allowable, though it may take some time to come to a judgment on those implications.

What I think would be more problematic would be if CMEs from different providers in the non-formal sector used very different curricula. That’s why Sound Sense has been inviting its member organisations to explore issues such as a common curriculum, work materials and so on. (That makes economic sense anyway, for both providers and candidates.) There will be an update in the next issue of Bulletin Board, end of August.
Kathryn Deane, Sound Sense