RNCM Music Education Conference Schedule

Good music education has the power to transform lives. However, recent trends have highlighted how access to high-quality, meaningful and long-term music education risks becoming a privilege, not a right. Set against complex socio-cultural challenges associated with things like the cost-of-living crisis and profound workforce shortages, we call for change in and through music education.

This conference aims to nourish music teachers through hands-on practical workshops, presentations and performances, exploring themes such as inclusion, diversity, decolonisation, creativity, and adaptability within teaching. Sessions will draw on the musical, holistic and innovative educational approaches that are integral to the RNCM’s vision for music education and how this can support meaningful change within our sector.

The day will also celebrate the launch of the RNCM’s sector-leading Master of Education degree, and how this builds on more than 25 years of teacher education through our PGCE programme.

Conference schedule



Registration and Refreshments

RNCM Reception and Concourses



Welcome and Introduction

Professor Jennie Henley, Director of Programmes and Professor in Music Education, RNCM

Dr Robert Gardiner, Senior Lecturer in Music Education and Programme Lead for Music Education, RNCM

This conference marks an important moment in the RNCM’s profile as a provider in teacher education. With over 25 years experience leading their PGCE in Music with Specialist Instrumental Teaching, the RNCM is delighted to announce its new Master in Education degree which aims to develop teacher expertise across a broader range of educational settings. Within this session, Dr Robert Gardiner will introduce this new programme and the ongoing desire to develop more inclusive educational approaches in order to ‘Drive Change in Music Education’.

Carole Nash Recital Room



Student Performance and Talk

Tosin Akindele, Head of Young Artists, RNCM

Matt Rowe, Student Mentor, RNCM

Young Artists, RNCM

Launched in 2022, RNCM Young Artists is a programme of training and support for pop musicians aged 11-18 from across the North West, providing young people with life-changing opportunities to explore their talent and achieve their potential. Tosin Akindele will introduce the programme which will be followed by a student performance, supported by an RNCM student mentor Matt Rowe. Tosin and Matt will then have a live discussion, exploring the pedagogical approaches of the programme and how this has impacted upon Matt’s life as a student at the RNCM.

Carole Nash Recital Room



Keynote Talk: What to Change, and to What End?

Professor Nathan Holder, International Chair in Music Education, RNCM

Change is a word commonly used in everyday speech, but what do we really mean by it? Over the past few years, there have been areas flagged within music education that need to change, whether that be for the betterment of the global climate, student learning, access, the bottom line or other facets. How can being honest and specific about the change that is needed, help us to effectively navigate barriers to achieve our objectives?

Carole Nash Recital Room

Coffee Break



Moving to Learn: Introduction to Dalcroze Eurhythmics

Karin Greenhead, Professor of Music (Dalcroze Eurhythmics), RNCM

Movement moves the mind and engraves knowledge in memory. Through self-movement the body latches on to and measures time, space, rhythm, dynamics, phrase, form, cadence… and creates and shapes them for both mover and observer. Dynamic kinaesthetic memories are created alongside tactile, visual and aural sensations, emotion and other feelings.

This brief, practical introduction to Dalcroze Eurythmics provides an opportunity to experience (largely improvised) movement as a tool for experiencing, learning, interpreting and teaching music at any level from beginner to professional performer while simultaneously developing social, ensemble and performance skills. We will focus on developing balance, ease and control while expressing and internalising pulse, tempo, metre, pattern, phrase with dynamics and style in group exercises.

Participants should be prepared to remove shoes and socks or bring trampoline/yoga socks.

Studio 4



Learning through Improvisation

Geth Griffith, Lecturer in Music, RNCM

How can improvisation be used to explore musical concepts in greater depth?

Teaching techniques will be discussed and workshopped including collaboration, developing listening skills, and finding ways to get comfortable with taking risks. This workshop will not be jazz-specific and therefore can be applied to any style, participants are encouraged to bring instruments.

Studio 8



Creative and Embodied Listening for Aural and Composition Classes

Dr Jen Hartley, Secondary School Music Teacher, Curriculum Leader, Independent Researcher and Composer

This workshop will invite participants to engage in listening activities that have been developed to teach A level (and younger) students the necessary aural skills for A level music through embodying and enacting. Using movement, voices and props, the session will demonstrate a number of ‘ways in’ to skills such as melodic and rhythmic dictation, identifying chords, and recognition of harmonic devices, and aims to challenge the view of aural skills as being rooted only in the mind. Time permitting, there might also be the opportunity to view some applications of similar active and participatory listening activities in composition lessons.

Studio 6



Sing First! Learning to Teach Singing in the Classroom: A Workshop Led by Current RNCM PGCE Students

Nicole Boardman

Alice Yeoman

Sarah Cardwell

Eoin Cassidy

Callum Dootson

Having just completed their PGCE at the RNCM, five newly qualified teachers will lead you in a practical singing workshop, sharing their experiences of learning to teach singing in the classroom this year. Exploring a range of different songs, the students will lead by example and share particularly effective techniques and resources they have employed this year. This session promises to be uplifting, inspiring and informative.

Forman Lecture Theatre

Lunch and Networking

Performance by Sandbach School Big Band



Collaborative Approaches to A-Level Music: Reimagining ‘Music Education Hubs’

With Sandbach School Big Band

Dr Robert Gardiner, Senior Lecturer in Music Education and Programme Lead for Music Education, RNCM

Recent governmental figures have demonstrated that the number of students taking A level music across England has fallen by 41% in eleven years, whilst areas of greater levels of deprivation correlate with lower uptake of A level music. Against this challenging background, Sandbach School, the Love Music Trust and the RNCM have sought to respond by creating a new partnership approach to A level music. This practical session will introduce colleagues to that programme, through a performance by the Love Music Trust big band, live discussions with pupils and course leaders, and a presentation of recent research exploring this partnership. This will finish with a live discussion exploring the challenges of progression, the role of music education hubs (particularly after the recent restructure), workforce development and the importance of developing partnerships.

Carole Nash Recital Room



Cultivating Awareness, Focus and Attention in Today’s Musician

Bethan Habron-James, Young Strings Tutor in Musicianship, RNCM

Surrounded by a continuous stream of information, noise and distractions that demand our attention, cultivating a deeper sense of awareness and a focused presence in our music students has never been more critical. Starting with perception of self, extending to relationship with others, and further to the spatial environment, participants’ personal explorations will expand both their sensory and pedagogical horizons. Through a reflective practice we will draw together some principles that can be appropriated to our varied educational settings.

Bethan Habron-James will share insights into her own process as a musicianship tutor with both adults and children, and her understanding of educators as both teachers and life-long learners.

Studio 4



Potential uses of Gospel Repertoire in an Educational Context

Tosin Akindele, Head of Young Artists, RNCM

Dr David Önaç, Tutor in Composition, Arrangement, Jazz, RNCM

Tosin Akindele and Dr David Önaç will be leading an uplifting Gospel taster session where those taking part get to experience the joy of what it feels like to sing in a Gospel Choir. There will be discussions around leading Gospel choirs within schools and the benefits of this within Music Education. Come prepared to sing in harmony and learn some gospel singing techniques.

Studio 2



Panel Discussion: Progression to the Conservatoire

Professor Lynne Dawson, Head of Vocal Studies and Opera, RNCM (Chair)

Professor Andy Stott, Head of Popular Music, RNCM

Dr Larry Goves, Head of Composition, RNCM

Join our panel of RNCM Heads of Schools Professor Lynne Dawson, Dr Larry Goves, and Professor Andy Stott to discuss how best to prepare students for progression to conservatoire study. The session will focus on audition advice, interview practice, and the musical, professional and personal qualities we look for in recruitment.

Forman Lecture Theatre



Creative Approaches to Group Percussion: Drumming Circles and Improvisation

Andrea Vogler, Director of Young Percussion, RNCM

A practical session exploring how techniques traditionally used in more therapeutic music settings can be applied in a classroom. This participatory workshop will use a mix of structured playing and improvisation with emphasis on creative listening.

Studio 4



Conducting/Leading an Ensemble

Professor Mark Heron, Head of Conducting, RNCM

This practical workshop will be hands-on for everyone: an opportunity to give your conducting and ensemble-leading skills a quick MOT, batons will be provided! Professor Mark Heron will also introduce the ConductIT online resource, and explore how it can be used independently for professional development.

Carole Nash Recital Room



Anyone Can Compose (and Teach Composition!): Making Classroom Music Creation Accessible

Professor David Horne, Head of Graduate School, RNCM

Creativity is a key feature of music education but many teachers who have not necessarily studied composition in their own training often feel less confident about leading such activities. This interactive session will explore ways of creating music at all levels, and also consider the role of different forms of notation (e.g. traditional, graphic etc.) and improvisation. Participants are encouraged to bring instruments, but it is not necessary, and no musical performance/composition experience will be expected or assumed.

Studio 8



Panel Discussion: Driving Change in Music Education

Professor Jennie Henley, Director of Programmes and Professor in Music Education, RNCM (Chair)

Professor John Habron-James, Head of Music, Health and Wellbeing, RNCM

Kate Campbell-Green, Head, Tameside Music Service

Dr Jo Yee Cheung, Chief Executive, Olympias Music Foundation

Dr Michelle Phillips, Head of Enterprise (Academic) and Senior Lecturer in Music Psychology, RNCM

To conclude the practical workshops, this session draws in experts from various fields of music education to explore the overall theme of the conference: Driving Change in Music Education. Chaired by Professor  Jennie Henley, each expert will present a three minute lightning talk and provocation which aims to stimulate discussion. This will include the following themes:

Professor John Habron-James: Music, Health and Wellbeing

Dr Jo Yee Cheung: Inclusion and Accessibility in Music Education

Kate Campbell-Green: Workforce Development

Dr Michelle Phillips: Higher Education, Partnership and Industry

Forman Lecture Theatre



25 Years of Teacher Education at the RNCM: Consistent Progression

Professor Linda Merrick CBE, Principal, RNCM

Dr Robert Gardiner, Senior Lecturer in Music Education and Programme Lead for Music Education, RNCM

Sarah Crooks, Head of Young Strings, RNCM

The day will finish with a presentation and performance by Sarah Crooks and RNCM Young Strings, which was the programme that started the PGCE programme at the RNCM. Through the past 25 years this programme has drawn upon creative and holistic approaches to keep driving change in music education. The event will finish with a performance by students at Junior RNCM, showing the development pathways available for young children at the RNCM and the rich musical outcomes this can support.

Carole Nash Recital Room


Hear from a range of experts from the RNCM, including Nate Holder (International Chair in Music Education), Professor Jennie Henley (Director of Programmes and Professor in Music Education), Dr Robert Gardiner (Senior Lecturer in Music Education and Programme Lead for Music Education) and Dr John Habron-James (Head of Music, Health and Wellbeing) and a range of external guest speakers and workshop leaders.

Read their biographies below:

Professor Linda Merrick CBE

Professor Linda Merrick CBE is Principal of the RNCM, Chair of Conservatoires UK and an internationally renowned clarinettist. She was awarded a CBE for services to music in higher education in the 2023 King’s New Year Honours.

In addition to her role at the RNCM, Linda has performed as a concerto soloist across America, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, the UAE and the UK, and broadcast for BBC Radio 3, Radio France, DRS1 Switzerland, CKWR Canada and Arte TV South Korea. A founder member of the contemporary ensemble ‘Sounds Positive’, she has premiered over 80 chamber works for winds and piano by British composers, and released a further three CDs.

Dr Robert Gardiner

Robbie is the Programme Lead for Music Education at the RNCM. Graduating as a clarinettist from the RNCM in 2009, Robbie then chose to train as a music teacher and has enjoyed a vibrant life as a teacher and musician across the North-West of England. Through his work with Bolton Music Service, he specialised in primary curricular and instrumental teaching, whilst also leading various choirs and ensembles. In 2017, Robbie came to the RNCM to lead the PGCE in Music with Specialist Instrumental Teaching, and has since helped to develop education programmes across the College. Gaining his Doctor of Education in 2021, Robbie is a passionate researcher and current research interests include music teacher education, educational discourse and policy, ideology and education, and musical inclusion. From September 2024, Robbie will lead the exciting new Master of Education degree at the RNCM.

Tosin Akindele

Tosin Akindele is a Music Entrepreneur, an award-winning Vocal Director and Songwriter. She is the founder of Voices Beyond Gospel Collective, a Manchester based group that consists of talented vocalists and instrumentalists who write original music and perform across the UK. At the end of 2022 she joined the RNCM as a Senior Tutor and quickly transitioned into the role of Head of Young Artists. Tosin currently over-sees the Junior Pop programme based at the Conservatoire.

Matt Rowe

Matt Rowe is 22 from Mansfield, Nottingham. He will be starting his final year at the RNCM in September studying Bass Guitar. Matt is working his way up to becoming a teacher through mentoring on the RNCM Young Artists programme, teaching private students as well as assisting in schools. His aim on completing his undergraduate studies at the RNCM is to begin a PGCE programme that will begin his journey towards a dream teaching job.

Professor Nathan Holder

Professor Nathan Holder is an award winning author, international speaker, musician and education consultant. With over a decade of experience, Nate has been advocating for inclusive and diverse music education globally through speaking engagements, writing, and consultancy.

As an experienced public speaker, Nate has led numerous CPD training, workshops and lectures for schools, universities, and hubs to tackle issues including pedagogy and critical perspectives in music classrooms, departments, and boards. His collaborations include working with top artists such as Ghetts, KOKOROKO, Emeli Sandé and Arkells, as well as with leading companies and organizations like the BBC, Hal Leonard Europe, Oxford University Press and Harper Collins.

Nate’s contributions extend beyond his consulting work. He serves on the board for F-flat books and the City of London Sinfonia. Currently, he holds the position of Professor and International Chair of Music Education at the Royal Northern College of Music.

As an author, Nate has written twelve books, including ‘I Wish I Didn’t Quit: Music Lessons’ (2018), ‘Where Are All The Black Female Composers’ (2020), and the award-winning ‘Listen and Celebrate’ (2022). His work aims to inspire and empower learners and educators to embrace inclusive and diverse music education.

Karin Greenhead

Karin is a Professor of Music (Dalcroze Eurhythmics), Teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Doctoral research supervisor at the RNCM. She is an internationally renowned expert in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and the current Director of Studies for Dalcroze UK; Co-Director of Studies for the Dalcroze Eurhythmics International Examination Board (DEIEB); Vice-President of the Collège de L’Institut Jaques-Dalcroze (Geneva, Switzerland) and a Founder Member of the Scientific Committee for the international Conference of Dalcroze Studies (Coventry 2013; Vienna 2015; Québec 2017; Katowice, 2019; online 2021; Pittsburg, 2023; Luxembourg, 2025).

Geth Griffith

Geth has an eclectic taste in music which has led to work with the Hallé, Lewis Capaldi, James Morrison, Matilda (West End production), Opera North, Apartment House Contemporary Music Group, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Black Dyke Brass Band, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Four Tops, Katherine Jenkins and Anthony Costa (Blue). He has also created arrangements for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra, the Hallé, and the Ulster Orchestra. Geth teaches improvisation in a variety of styles at the RNCM, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Junior RNCM and formerly at the University of York. He is also a mentor for the Live Music Now charity.

Dr Jen Hartley

Dr Jen Hartley studied Music at Cambridge, where she also did her PGCE. She has taught in secondary schools for the past 26 years, and has also been a one-to-one piano, theory, harmony, and aural teacher, alongside occasional performing and composing commitments. As a recent student at the RNCM, she completed her PhD on nurturing creative autonomy in A level composition students in 2023, and her current research interests include creative music-making and embodied listening, with a view to testing her own research findings. She is coming to the end of a one-year stint in the south, after which she returns to begin a new role at Chetham’s School of Music from September.

Bethan Habron-James

Bethan Habron-James has taught at the RNCM for 25 years. Her work as a musicianship educator focuses on the body as primary instrument, developing rhythmic awareness, embodied aural acuity and improvisation skills. As holder of the Diplôme Supérieur of the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, Geneva, she is an internationally recognised teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics and is currently in the final year of doctoral studies at Bangor University, North Wales, where she is inquiring into her personal experience of Dalcroze practice. She was previously a professional violinist and continues to teach the violin. She is happiest when sea swimming.

Dr David Önaç

Dr David Önaç is a composer, pianist and educator based in Manchester, UK. He studied music (MA Hons: Cantab), composition (MPhil: Cantab, MMUS: RNCM, PhD: Manchester) and piano performance (LRSM) and has taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Birmingham and the University of Manchester, as well as at Junior RNCM.  He was BBC Young Composer of the Year runner up (2000) and winner of the RPS Composition Prize (2012), has compositions and arrangements in a variety of styles on the ABRSM piano syllabus from Initial Grade to ARSM, and has recently been published by EVC Music.  His current commission is a c.45-minute requiem to be premiered in London.

As a versatile musician, David is equally at home with established classical repertoire as with music in jazz and gospel styles and for c.15 years he has been the Musical Director and principal keyboardist for various gospel choirs in Manchester.  While MD of the student Harmony Gospel Choir they won UGCY 3 times and were finalists in BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year, and during his tenure with the professional gospel collective Voices Beyond they have been broadcast on BBC R4 and selected for Manchester Jazz Festival’s Hothouse development programme.   David has a deep passion for education – particularly that young musicians can recognise and articulate the extraordinary value of the arts both personally and in society, and fulfil their maximum potential as creative and confident pioneers of the music of the next generation.

Professor Lynne Dawson

Professor Lynne Dawson was one of Britain’s best loved and respected sopranos for more than 30 years. She trained as a translator and interpreter and spent several years in industry before beginning her training as a singer. She worked with all the major British orchestras and abroad with orchestras such as the Leipzigewandhaus, the Concertgebouw, San Francisco Symphony, La Scala Milan, Chicago Symphony and Berlin Symphony over many years, in addition to chamber orchestras all over the world. Her recordings number more than 80 and include many roles by Handel and Mozart, with many leading international labels. Operatic roles include Pamina, Zaide, Donna Elvira, Countess, Queen of the Night, Constanze, Aspasia and Vitellia, as well as Amenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi, leading roles in Handel’s OrlandoGuilio CesareHercules and Ariodante, Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Iphigenie in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Aulide, Mimi in La Boheme, Zdenka in Strauss’ Arabella, and Violetta in La Traviata, in opera houses such as Amsterdam, Opera North, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin Staatsoper.

Professor Andy Stott

Professor Andy Stott is the first Head of Popular Music at the RNCM, Musical Director of the RNCM Session Orchestra and the founding CEO of Northern Quarter Records. His career as a music educator has seen him heading music departments at a number of top institutions in addition to examiner roles in the UK and abroad, and mentoring for rock and pop festivals and consultancy for Music for Youth.

Andy has been the recipient of four RNCM Student-Led Teaching Awards; two for his musical direction of the RNCM Session Orchestra, and two for Employability Enhancement. In 2015 he became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, in 2017 was appointed to the ABRSM’s Music Education Advisory Committee and to the board of the Association for Popular Music Education, and in 2023 became a Professor (personal chair) at the RNCM.

Dr Larry Goves

Dr Larry Goves founded, writes for and performs electronics with the experimental music group The House of Bedlam.  He has also worked on a variety of installation projects including; an installation for Aldeburgh Music’s Technology Residencies (building instruments and writing new music in collaboration with Sound Intermedia’s David Sheppard); a music for a film and installation with artist Aura Satz (for  the Tatton Park Biennial 2012); and music for Dr Beau Lotto’s wall of 88 speakers with corresponding visual (for The Brain Unravelled, an installation at the Wellcome Institute in 2009). He has been awarded a Jerwood-Aldeburgh Opera Writing Fellowship, been shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in composition and has been a recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award for Composition.

Larry Goves studied at the RNCM with Anthony Gilbert and at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy. He is a Head of Composition at the RNCM and composition tutor for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Andrea Vogler

RNCM graduate Andrea Vogler enjoys a varied portfolio career as a percussionist. She has played with orchestras including the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and English National Ballet; and works regularly with Royal Northern Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata and Northern Chamber Orchestra. Andrea has also worked in West End theatre, toured the UK as a recitalist for the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, and is an active chamber musician. Recent chamber projects include interdisciplinary collaborations with Noisy Toys Robotic Orchestra and MMU; and performance poet Louise Wallwein.

Her education and outreach work includes project design, staff training and mentoring for Live Music Now, Jessie’s Fund and NCO. She is also part of Manchester Camerata’s award winning ‘Music in Mind’ team delivering pioneering group music therapy sessions for people living with Dementia and their carers. Her broad range of teaching experience has led to roles as a specialist Clinician for BASBWE, RNCM Day of Percussion, the National Association of Percussion Teachers, and Percussive Arts Society UK.

Professor Mark Heron

Professor Mark Heron is a Scottish conductor noted for dynamic and well-rehearsed performances across an unusually wide repertoire. Professor and Head of Conducting at the RNCM, he works regularly with the College’s orchestras and ensembles, is the Music Director of the Nottingham Philharmonic, and guest conducts with professional orchestras in the UK and internationally. Alongside his conducting engagements, Mark has an international reputation as a teacher. He heads up the RNCM’s world-renowned conducting programmes and is frequently invited to teach at masterclasses all over the world. He is the lead content author for the online conducting pedagogy resource, ConductIT.

Professor David Horne

Professor David Horne has been commissioned and performed worldwide by groups as diverse as Scottish Opera, the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras, the Nash Ensemble, Remix Ensemble (Portugal) and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centre. International soloists such as Evelyn Glennie, Boris Berezovsky, Nobuko Imai and Fred Sherry have also commissioned works from him, and he has appeared in the proms as both a pianist and composer. He was composer in association with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000-04. Winner of the piano section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1988, he performs regularly as a pianist. He is in high demand in education and frequently delivers workshops and lectures for organisations including Sound and Music, Wigmore Hall, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and many others. He was a visiting Professor at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona and has mentored emerging professional composers on Making Music’s Adopt a Composer and Sound and Music’s Next Wave schemes. He is now Professor in Composition and Head of the Graduate School at the RNCM where he teaches composition at all levels. He also teaches across a range of disciplines with a particular interest in performance studies, supervising the work of PhD performers and composers.

Professor Jennie Henley

Professor Jennie Henley is Director of Programmes and Professor in Music Education at the RNCM. An internationally renowned expert in music pedagogy and education strategist, Jennie has taught music in various contexts for over 30 years, including instrumental teaching, ensemble direction and class teaching. She has worked in music teacher education and professional development since 2008. Covering diverse contexts, Jennie’s research is concerned with the relationship between pedagogy and inclusion. Her research impact is wide ranging with consultancy work involving curriculum design and development for international governments and contributing to policy development.

Professor John Habron-James

Professor John Habron-James is Head of Music, Health, and Wellbeing at the RNCM where he teaches undergraduates, supervises (post-)doctoral researchers and leads the College’s Student Health and Wellbeing Hub. Having trained as a composer and music therapist, he now undertakes transdisciplinary research at the intersection of music education, music therapy and the medical/health humanities. John’s research has appeared in Psychology of Music, Journal of Research in Music Education, and Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and in 2016, he guest-edited a special issue of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy. He founded the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies (ICDS), chairing its Scientific Committee from 2012 to 2023. John is also an Extraordinary Researcher in the MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications) Focus Area at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Kate Campbell-Green

A passionate advocate for inclusive music making and using music as a conduit for all educational outcomes, Kate has almost 20 years of experience in teaching and leading music across all key stages and in the wider community. She has run music departments and taught in a variety of settings including sixth form colleges and Alternative Provision along with several music services around Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. An alumni of the PGCE with Specialist Instrumental Teaching, she is currently Head of Tameside Music Service as well as Chair of the Board of Trustees for Good Vibrations Charity, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors for Whitfield St James Primary School and a trustee for Band on the Wall. She has written several commissioned articles for Music Teacher magazine and was an examiner for the AQA A level music composition module. Kate was diagnosed with AuDHD later in life and this has added a personal element to her interest in educational reform – more particularly to ensure that education is reflective of the changing needs of all young people today and in the future.

Dr Jo Yee Cheung

Dr Jo Yee Cheung is a British pianist and music educator based in vibrant Manchester, and the Founder and Chief Executive of Olympias Music Foundation – a multi-award-winning charity which champions diversity in music education. An alumnae of Cambridge University, Jo Yee holds a PhD in Music Psychology and Music Education from the RNCM, having previously completed an MMus and PGDip in Piano Performance at the RNCM under the tutelage of Richard Ormrod with a scholarship. In 2022, Jo was made an Associate Member of the RNCM (ARNCM) and was one of the RNCM50Faces. Jo is a trustee of Contact Theatre and Manchester Concert Hall Limited, and an External Examiner for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Dr Michelle Phillips

Dr Michelle Phillips is Head of Enterprise (Academic) at the RNCM. Her research interests include music and time, perception of contemporary music, audience response to live and recorded music, entrepreneurship, and music and Parkinson’s. From 2020-2022, Michelle was Principal Investigator of the two-year StART Entrepreneurship Project (in partnership with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and University of the Arts London, granted funding of £902,153 by the Office for Students and Research England), which explored training for creative students in preparation for freelance and portfolio careers. The RNCM was awarded the Times Higher Education Outstanding Entrepreneurial University Award in 2023.

Sarah Crooks

Sarah is a Lecturer in Music Education at RNCM. She leads the Pedagogy option on the undergraduate Professional Placement module as well as teaching and mentoring on several other undergraduate and postgraduate modules and the PGCE programme. In addition to her HE work, Sarah leads Young Strings, one of RNCM’s most longstanding Junior Programmes.

Sarah was a student herself on RNCM/MMU’s PGCE with Specialist Instrumental Teaching, then a two-year course which included training in Dalcroze and Kodály musicianship and string pedagogy as well as classroom teaching. Following this course, Sarah completed gained a Masters in Performance, also at RNCM, focusing on the application of Dalcroze Eurhythmics to music rehearsal for her dissertation. Since then, Sarah has accumulated a wealth of experience as a professional violinist and teacher in a wide range of contexts, with a particular interest in small- and large-group learning. As Head of RNCM Young Strings, Sarah leads a team of teachers which strives to integrate the development of musical and creative skills into instrumental learning.

Sarah is also Head of Strings for the European Strings Association (ESTA) PG Cert, delivers CPD workshops for teachers, contributes resources to ABRSM’s new Teacher Hub. She also continues to teach the violin and viola in schools and through her private studio.

RNCM Young Strings

RNCM Young Strings aims to provide young people with a thorough foundation in musical, creative and instrumental skills. The programme is designed to help pupils become confident, expressive musicians who have a deep understanding of musical elements. The approaches of Dalcroze and Kodály underpin the teaching and learning; with the guidance of our highly-trained teachers, our musicians move, sing, play, improvise, create, question, perform and reflect. The majority of the learning takes place in small and large groups, which gives players the opportunity to learn collaboratively, exploring and discovering together, and supporting each other through group and peer appraisal. Weekly classes include Musicianship and Ensemble as well as a small group instrumental lesson or sectional rehearsal, depending on the stage of the programme. Teachers plan collaboratively so that areas of musical or technical development are approached simultaneously through different forms of activity. Our wish is for our graduating musicians to have had experiences which allow them to engage positively with music for the rest of their lives, whatever their path may be.