Off to the seaside

by Keith Clarke

It was with a mixture of admiration and pity that I discovered many years ago that those who toil on the western side of the Atlantic do so virtually every day of the year. In the UK we like to take weeks and weeks of vacation, plus there are all the public holidays (quaintly called bank holidays), a day off here to watch the royal wedding, a day off there to celebrate May Day, etc. From what I can make out, on your side of the pond you like to take off one Thursday in November to roast turkeys, but you work for most of the other 364 days.

So at the risk of offending the prevailing work ethic, I confess that I am packing my soft shoes, swimming shorts and crushable Panama and heading for the sea, and it is most unlikely that I shall be staring at the laptop this time next week in an effort to add to the sum total of this blogspot.

This will naturally come as a grave disappointment to my three readers (four if you count the editor), but try and contain your sorrow and I’ll do my best to summon up the energy to bounce back in due course.


Before setting off, I feel obliged to draw attention to the plight of British flute player Carla Rees. For anyone who didn’t catch the story at the front of this site (August 15), she lost a lifetime collection of ten or more flutes when her home was burnt to the ground in the recent riots. Also lost were 600 pieces of unpublished music written for her and her ensemble.

Given the way the riots escalated, she may feel lucky to be alive. But rebuilding a career from such a devastating loss is going to take a whole lot more than courage and pluck. Anyone in a position to help is greatly encouraged to visit a special website.


You might think that learning music at school is not something that you would have to explain to anyone as being desirable, useful and a basic human right, come to that. Yet the UK’s politicians beg to differ. Music is not included as a subject in the new “English baccalaureate” (Ebacc). Schools are to be assessed on the basis of how many students manage to get a C grade in English, math, two sciences, history or geography and a modern or ancient language. But music? Forget about it, along with arts, drama and any other creative subject.

This has caused a predictable stink among musicians’ organizations, which are campaigning for the importance of learning music to be recognized. Leading the fight are the Incorporated Society of Musicians and Music Teacher magazine, whose editor Chris Walters says: “Essentially a performance measure, the EBacc will inevitably have negative consequences for any subjects that are excluded from it. Music Teacher is therefore delighted to be part of a campaign not only to include music but to introduce an entire sixth pillar of creative subjects, which we believe would greatly improve the impact of the EBacc in our schools.”

You can read more about it here.

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