We are delighted to announce the launch of ‘Pop Music Education in the UK – 1960-2020’ - a book compiled by Norton York, RSL Awards Chairman and Founder.

The book can be bought here.

"Here, in technicolour detail, is how the Wild West of music learning was being won by pioneers. One of whom was Norton."

Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty OBE – Founder, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Learning Group.

Teaching Music to Future Stars: Adele, Ed Sheeran, Leona Lewis, Jess Glynne, Amy Winehouse, Michael Kiwanuka, and Fraser T Smith all took Formal Pop Music courses founded in the UK in the last 30 years. So did many more young people who now write and produce hit tunes, or work in the music industry creating brilliant music for diverse audiences to enjoy. Just like their contemporaries in Fashion, Film, Art and Design, these young people benefitted from their education, and this is the story of how pioneering music educators made that possible, overcoming the objections of the traditionalists along the way.

Since 1960 British music has been a global success story but the UK’s traditional music education system was slow to understand and react to this. That left an opportunity to create an alternative music education in Britain which embraces Pop Music in all its forms and supports young people’s desires and ambitions to perform and write it, or work within its industries. This is the story of how and why that change happened, told by the people who founded its key organisations – from BIMM, ICMP and ACC to the BRIT School, LIPA and RSL Awards.

"As the driving force behind the world’s first graded examinations in Rock and Pop, Norton York has had a transformational impact on Popular Music education. In this book, he situates his remarkable achievements in a passionate account of the long struggle to give legitimacy to formal training in Popular Music and of his determination to work towards a truly democratic music culture."

Derek Scott, Emeritus Professor of Critical Musicology, University of Leeds

For music students, this book may explain why your course or college exists at all. For teachers, it may either challenge your assumptions about what you teach and why or reinforce your existing ethos. For policy makers, it will demonstrate how nearly half the young people who choose to study Music, but do not take the traditional GCSE, A-level or Classical Music route, contribute greatly to Britain culturally and economically and offer hope for a future full of musical enjoyment and achievement.

Reading Pop Music In the UK 1960-2020 brought back so many memories. I am struck by how risky and wild the whole business was, and that’s speaking as someone with a music business background. We really had to make a case for popular music to be taken seriously in education and take, in hindsight, crazy personal risks to set up these courses and intuitions. I am so grateful that Norton has documented these formative years so accurately and comprehensively. In doing so he provides the opportunity to pause and reflect on where we want to take music education in the future. Feeling grateful and inspired.

Bruce Dickinson – Little Angels band, ACM 1996-2001, Founder Director BIMM 2001- 2011, Founder Director WaterBear the College of Music 2017–present

"I think this work goes a considerable distance to recognise the work of hundreds of educators across the UK over the last 60 years in developing the modern music education landscape to a point where it is considerably more accepted by industry and better integrated as part of the music eco-system."

Allan Dumbreck, Senior Lecturer / Programme Leader BA Commercial Music & International development – University of the West of Scotland, Ayr Campus

Norton York Rockschool

Norton York is the founder of RSL Awards. In the last 30 years he has established a university music department, pioneered graded and vocational music qualifications adopted in more than 50 countries, and has advised and worked with many UK and international government and music industry organisations. As a musician and educator, he has collaborated with leading artists including Dave Stewart, Billy Ocean, Lulu and Labbi Siffre, while alumni from his courses and awards have gone on to win BRIT Awards and Grammies as well as inhabiting the recording studios, stadium stages and executive offices of the music industry around the world.

You can get your hands on your copy here.