New music college is planned in Midlands

New music college is planned in Midlands


norman lebrecht

February 05, 2016

They are planning for 600 degree students and 115 postgraduates in Dudley, heart of England.

When there’s a flourishing conservatory in Birmingham, just 10 miles away…

Does any planning go into the provision of higher education?

Report here.



  • Richard S says:

    Planning? What are you? Some kind of crypto-Stalinist?

    But more seriously, it’s not unknown, is it, for institutions in close physical proximity, particularly when within large cities or conurbations, to succeed? After all, HEIs are serving a national or international constituency, not a regional one. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the centre of gravity for musical training moved from London to the Midlands. Music students might be able to afford to live in Dudley.

    What is depressing, though, is the statement of the leader-elect:

    “Our long-term vision is to create a music village or campus, with the institute at its heart, driving innovation, enterprise and research that will be recognised globally.”

    That’s a soundbite to make the heart sink. Not the remotest hint of interest in music, the arts, and culture.

    • Anne63 says:

      “Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the centre of gravity for musical training moved from London to the Midlands.”

      Yes, perhaps a music college should be created in Manchester.

      • Alexander says:

        I wouldn’t place Manchester in the Midlands.

        • Anne63 says:

          Do a little research into how “centre of gravity” works.

          And people in Newcastle might beg to differ.

          • Alexander says:

            Yes, I’m not a complete moron, I’m perfectly well aware that the point you are making is that there are also music conservatoires in the north of England and, indeed, in Scotland. However, I am not sure whether a degree in physics is now required for Slipped Disc readers. I’m not even sure whether we are talking about centre of gravity or centre of mass. I still would dispute the idea that Birmingham could ever be considered the centre of gravity for music education in the UK. London has three world-class conservatoires, one pretty good one, and one pretty mediocre one. We have one of the finest conservatoires in Europe in Manchester and excellent ones in Cardiff and Glasgow. Birmingham has a decent one, and Leeds has a pretty unremarkable one. I’m not a physicist, but it wouldn’t surprised me if the centre of gravity were somewhere near Milton Keynes. Meanwhile, it never hurts to be courteous online.

      • Richard S says:

        I’m not quite sure of the point you’re making, even if Alexander is. My comment was certainly not intended to slight existing conservatoires and colleges elsewhere. Merely to observe, in a light-hearted way, that Birmingham and the Black Country (a more conventional definition of “the Midlands” than Manchester, I’m sure you’ll agree), are good places to live, work and study; and that nobody bats an eyelid at the presence of competing institutions in London.

        • Anne63 says:

          The point I’m making is that a music college, or anything else for that matter, doesn’t have to be in the Midlands in order to shift the centre of gravity in that direction.

          And Alexander:

          If you don’t like Physics lessons it’s probably best to avoid dishing out Geography ones.

          • Richard S says:

            I see, so you really were trying to give a literal reading of my obviously metaphorical use of the term centre of gravity. It seems we’re operating with different discourses. I fear we will not enjoy a meeting of minds.

            Incidentally, I seem to have missed Alexander’s Geography lesson, but I may well enjoy it. Could you point me in the right direction, please?

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Shouldn’t we be applauding any expansion of music education these days? Which of the London schools do you advise we close, as clearly some of them are surplus to our stunted requirements?

    • Fran says:

      But where are the jobs? It’s all very well expanding education but the point is to give job opportunities and careers at the end! (I’m a singing teacher)

      • Frederick West says:

        Exactly! That’s what confused me so much about ‘the industry’ (whatever that comprises) crying for help.
        I ended up advising pupils at school to think very carefully about taking music post 18 for that very reason. Thankfully quite a few ignored the advice and did it anyway (and why not?) but I did feel most uncomfortable recommending a profession with so little support and prospects. This does seem a very glossy proposal for something that is not needed, regardless of its location.

  • Eric says:

    Can’t tell from the press release, but it seems likely that genres other than classical (yes, they do exist) could be the primary focus here, so the overlap with Birmingham would be quite small, apart from jazz.

  • Frederick West says:

    Curious that they say it’s a ‘not for profit’ enterprise. That infers that others operate on a profit basis which I’m not so sure about. And where is the ‘cry for help’ coming from? A rather sketchy and uninformative article.
    I’m Richard S on his comment about the sound bite, makes one cringe straightaway.

  • Alexander says:

    Nobody seems to mind that Birmingham itself has five universities (Birmingham, Birmingham City, Aston, Newman, and University College Birmingham), as well as at least three FE/HE colleges offering degree courses, a Catholic seminary and an ecumenical theological college (both offering degree courses), as well as universities in Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Warwick (or, more correctly, two universities in Coventry, one of them called Warwick). As for music conservatoires, nobody has ever objected to London having the RAM, RCM, GSMD, Trinity Laban, and LCM. Nor, indeed, does anybody seem to mind that the capital boasts, in addition to GSMD, RADA, LAMDA, RCSSD, Mountview, Rose Bruford, Sylvia Young, Italia Conti, East 15, Urdang, Court Theatre, as well as at least a dozen university drama departments. It hardly seems unreasonable for the UK’s second city to have two conservatoires.

    • Richard S says:

      Quite so. That was the thought behind my original post. But with much more detail than I could have mustered!

      Incidentally, despite living quite close to Milton Keynes, I have never experienced its gravitational pull. Perhaps, like many bodies with significant gravitational force, it is a spinning body, and hence has an opposing centrifugal effect on bodies within its orbit.

      Anne63 – no need to correct my woeful misunderstandings of gravity, centrifugal effects, or orbits. I am a lost cause, and will never learn.

  • C. Carter says:

    London already has the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the London College of Music (University of West London) to name a few…proximity has its pros and cons. However, with Birmingham Conservatoire flourishing and expanding under new expert Directorship, more world class musicians as visiting Professors and its links with the CBSO getting stronger by the day….I wonder how Dudley will attract new music students?

  • Fran says:

    A new music college to prepare students for all the unfilled jobs out there that current music colleges can’t fill. #cashcow

  • Anonymous says:

    So what if this new school will be under 10 miles away from the Birmingham Conservatoire? I’ve never heard anyone complain that the Royal College of Music is situated under 3 miles away from the Royal Academy of Music and 5 miles away from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama….
    A lot goes into the planning of higher education, and this doesn’t change by the fact that observers wrongly identify flaws in the proposals of others.