Partnership with Seimpi - Speech by Professor John Howard


We are delighted with this significant collaboration. London College of Music Examinations, part of the University of West London, is the second oldest music graded exam board, founded in 1887 by the young 28-yr old George Augustus Holmes, and active in delivering examinations in SE Asia since the 1890’s. 1887 was in itself a significant time, since it was just 17 years after the Education Act which began compulsory primary level state education in England and Wales. Holmes was making a contribution to music education for all, a very new concept then.

Nor is LCME new to providing assessments and qualifications in both music and drama for the very young. Our pre-Grade One level includes syllabuses in Early Learning, used by many pre- school organisations, and individual assessments in for instance piano, electronic keyboard, drums, known as our Step qualifications.


The key word here is assessment, as opposed to examination. We all know the somewhat tricky connotations of the word examination; the term assessment, meaning to sit down and weigh together, is much more applicable and positive when we refer to young children in particular.

Why should we have assessments for this group of the very young?

There is a significant value in having music in the broad sense in the education of all people. This collaboration with Seimpi recognises and values those things in music which the children are already doing. We will be assessing children in their normal group situations in class, combining practical musical skills such as singing and playing with some light theoretical knowledge. The assessment can work if as here it has a light touch, with the children assessed by expert teachers, trained as assessors within the MIM programme.

The collaboration involves a clear division of responsibilities between Seimpi and London College of Music. Seimpi will be delivering the teaching and learning aspects of the programme to children within kindergarten classes. LCM will be designing the assessment methods, making the eventual awards, and selecting and training the assessors. It will also ensure the reliability and consistency of the awards and all the assessor decisions and will ultimately be providing the certification for all the successful children at three levels of MIM. Just as importantly, we will be working with Seimpi’s team to ensure that the children all have a positive experience of being assessed, be it as individuals, as individuals within group activity, or as groups making music together.

This collaboration is also important because it conforms to a different model to the one often used by graded music examination boards. Normally, examiners come from the outside, outside the country and the culture, and bring to bear standards from elsewhere. We are confident in the ability here to have a genuine partnership between a British examination board and university, and local teachers, trained and developed as assessors within this programme, working with content and levels carefully matched by Singaporeans to the needs of children in this region. One highly significant thing is different here, compared to the time of George Augustus Holmes: this is not a colonial model; this is one of genuine partnership across geographical and cultural boundaries.

Why London College of Music Examinations?

We are an integral part of a British university, which is, very importantly, a teaching institution. We pride ourselves on training assessors and examiners who combine quality standards and expertise with a friendly and supportive manner, to enable those of all ages who take our assessments to have a positive experience and achieve at least their potential. Early childhood music education is an important part of our commitment and reflects our breadth of approach in including a multiplicity of musical styles treated equally within our syllabuses and recognising the creativity of the individual. The University of West London has recently been placed at the top of the UK university league table for graduate employment, and along with that kind of profile goes our belief in the power and effects of life-long learning. All the awards made to the children in the MIM programme will be university awards.

A university these days needs to be committed to the education of all ages, and our contribution, shown today by this important collaboration with Seimpi Music School, demonstrates our belief in the value of music education, conducted well and properly, for the very young. We need joined-up education, and I am sure that the spirit of this collaboration is one that matches that early commitment to the education of the community by the founder of London College of Music, George Augustus Holmes. Not everyone, certainly not the majority, can attain to a career in music; but the potential of music to stimulate the creative thinking and expressive qualities, along with its demands on intellectual development, mean that all young children have much to gain from a positive involvement in music from an early age, complemented and supported by meaningful qualifications, awarded in order to encourage and motivate them. In later life, music can play an important part in their lives, be it through participation or appreciation. I am delighted to be able to attend today and acknowledge the start of this significant collaboration with Seimpi.

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