The funding I recently obtained from the European Social Fund to develop a Foundation Degree for the Convergence Areas of the Welsh Music Industry is now been put to good use. The structure is now more or less fully developed, enabling practitioners to gain academic credit for up to half of the qualification. This is complemented by enabling the attendees to learn about the various structures of the modern music industry, in addition to the means through which they can exploit their creative talent. Unlike other Foundation Degrees that usually take two years full-time, this qualification will take around 15 months part-time, and is largely delivered by distance learning. There are 75 full bursaries over the next three years, with the first cohort starting in September this year. The pedagogical model for this was developed a couple of years ago in a paper I wrote for the Journal of Research into Higher Education, and is now ready for the testing stage.
The subject of if qualifications such as these are worthy contributions to academia is well covered, and during the time I have been living in Wales have discussed it a number of times on Radio and TV. In fact the BBC recently covered the start-up of the course in a short article, and I was surprised to see the same old approach – are popular music qualifications worthwhile? I would argue that on a number of levels they are.
Firstly – the government are informing us they are. University degree courses are about to become more flexible (in terms of delivery) and will have to have explicit links with industry due to the understandable expectations of students. Thus far I have managed to build a number of important links with industry for this course, and this is something that I hope will continue in the months to follow. The idea is not only to get feedback from these important stakeholders, but also to provide potential experience for the students on the programme. As I now have to consider myself an ‘academic’ as opposed to a professional musician – it is essential that full use is made of colleagues who are currently earning their crust within the profession.
Secondly, why does the word ‘popular music’ or ‘music industry’ signify that it is a ‘Micky Mouse’ course? When I developed the original Popular Music Course at Glamorgan 8 years ago (After moving from Bournemouth) – this was covered in the Daily Telegraph – who actually accompanied the article with a picture of Walt Disney’s favourite character (I kid you not). As I stated at the time, popular music is responsible for generating a huge income for the UK, something which has prompted people such as Tony Blair to recognise the importance of music to the economy. The live music industry alone generates over 1.5 , billion, so why should we not study the means that make this possible? As outlined in a recent report I done for the Welsh Music Foundation into the live music in Wales – Popular Music generates by far the most money for the Welsh economy – so to repeat myself – it makes sence to study it!
As with all of my posts, I limit myself to around 15 mins, and I have now reached this point. If anyone is interested in the Foundation Degree in Music Industry Entrepreneurship – please get in touch. And please – don’t call it a Micky Mouse course!!!!