Call for Articles: Popular Music Education in Wales (The Journal of Popular Music Education)

Call for Papers: Popular Music Education in Wales

As noted by the likes of Hobsbawm and Ranger (1992), Ellis (2000), Hill (2007) and Carr (2010), Wales has a unique landscape culturally, politically, linguistically and of course musically. Like other Small Nations, the country, which was devolved in 1998, has a distinct set of challenges in order to ensure it exploits the full potential of Creative Industries such as music. In terms of popular music education, this broader landscape is/has been informed via initiatives funded by Welsh Government (The Welsh Music Foundation), the Arts Council (Forté, the Music Industry Development Fund, Horizons 12, Community Music Wales), Wales Arts International (the International Development Fund) and local councils. Cardiff Council for example are working with Sound Diplomacy, who are developing a strategy to make Cardiff the UKs first ‘Music City’, while Rhonnda Cynon Taff co-fund the Forté project. All of these initiatives, some of which are co -funded by the likes of the PRS Foundation, The British Council and the BBC, are intended at least in part to ‘educate’ stakeholders within the Welsh Music Industry, from grass roots to international engagement.

In addition to these funded activities, a number of musicians such as Martyn Joseph, Meic Stevens, The Super Furry Animals, The Alarm, and Gwenno Saunders (whose recent album Le Kov, (2018) was sung in Cornish) can be regarded as indicative examples of musicians whose agendas are at least partially related to educating the general public, in subject matters ranging from the importance of minority languages, the Aberfan disaster and the impacts of Thatcherism on the demise of the mining industry.

In terms of education, all of these practices are positioned outside of ‘mainstream’ education, but can be regarded as existing in tandem with discussions such as the place of popular music in the school curriculum, which has been a minor but pervasive part of ongoing recent debates in the Senedd. Indeed, over the last few years, Wales has received a great deal of negative press concerning the lack of importance the Welsh Assembly places on music and although the ‘decline of instrumental teaching’ is by far the most pervasive subject, the place of popular music within this landscape is an interesting subject for popular music scholars to consider. With a recent report by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee mentioning a “distinct lack of infrastructure for rock, pop and folk”, suggesting that a “separate line of enquiry” is implemented (Hitting the Right Note, p. 46), it begs the questions, what would this enquiry look like and why is popular music such a peripheral part of mainstream Welsh education nationally? Interestingly and perhaps alarmingly, the aforementioned recommendation by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee was rejected by Education Minister Kirsty Williams in her official response dated July 27th 2018, although she does verify the intension to “continue working with the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport and the Welsh Local Government Association, to support “less traditional forms of music, including rock and pop ensembles”.

These examples represent indicative examples of debates and initiatives related to popular music education in Wales, some of which are happening now. This collection of essays for the Journal of Popular Music Education hopes to examine this complex infrastructure. Potential essays may include, but are not limited to:

• Case Studies of good practice in Wales, in which popular music has been used as a means of education. This could include government/Arts Council/charity funded projects or those that are initiated by the community. Practices could range from popular music-based exhibitions, community plays, to funded projects such as Community Music Wales and Forté.
• Considerations of the historical practices of Welsh Government interaction with popular music education.
• The impact of practitioners such as Martyn Joseph, American vocalist Paul Robeson, Meic Stevens and The Super Furry Animals on educating communities on historical and political events related to Wales’ industrial past and present.
• Analysis of the impacts (positive and negative) and infrastructures of popular music in school, further and higher education in Wales.
• Critical considerations of the ways in which the Welsh popular music industry has worked or could work with mainstream education systems.
• Factors considering The Welsh Language within Popular Music Education
• The impacts of popular music education on careers in Wales

Please submit a 300-word abstract of your intended area of study to either professor Paul Carr ( or professor Helena Gaunt by ( by March 1st 2019. Once authors have been confirmed, essays of circa 7000 words need to be complete for December 1st 2019, for publication in the November 2020 edition of The Journal of Popular Music Education.