Developing the ‘here and now’ of young musical talent

How do school-age musicians benefit from Junior Academies and Conservatoires? Howard Ionascu, Director of Junior Academy at the RAM, looks at how both complement students’ musical, academic and social lives…

Howard IonascuThe Junior Conservatoire

After nearly two decades of teaching music in schools (lastly as Director of Music at King’s, Canterbury), the position of Director of Junior Academy at the Royal Academy of Music seemed to me an exciting one with plenty of fresh challenges; three years into the post, it hasn’t disappointed.

Like all the UK’s music conservatoires, the Junior Department of RAM offers specialist Saturday provision to talented and committed musicians up to the age of 18. The programme is designed to complement the students’ other musical activities in schools, HUBs, Music Services, national ensembles and holiday music courses. (It is a myth that Junior Conservatoires (JC) exist as an elite Saturday morning bubble without reference to a students’ wider musical existence).

This idea of musical progression and extension for our students is an important one. I am in daily contact with Heads of Music in schools and HUB leaders to ensure that there is a healthy dialogue about current students, as well creating new pathways for students who would benefit from the JC experience, regardless of financial or social background.

So what is on offer on a Saturday at Junior Academy (JA)?

Central to the programme is the first study instrumental lesson (an hour long, sometimes longer). Our 80-strong team of tutors, leading professional musicians with stellar teaching credentials, bring a wealth of experience. Just under a quarter of JA staff also teach in senior conservatoires.

Chamber music is also a vital part of JA. Every student is allocated an ensemble, appropriate to their standard and age. For example, I have the pleasure this year of coaching a piano quintet consisting of lower and upper sixth players. The pace of the sessions is fast, the students are intellectually active and I am deliberately demanding…Read the rest of Howard’s blog here

Howard Ionascu

Written as part of Ensemble Philharmonic

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