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ABRSM Composer Mentoring Programme

ABRSM’s composer mentoring programme, Writing for music education, provides emerging composers from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to develop their skills in writing to a brief, both for exam syllabuses and within broader educational contexts. We will be recruiting for our next cohort of six composers shortly, for our 2023/24 programme, which runs from September 2023 – February 2024.

Written by James Welburn, Partnerships Manager, ABRSM

As a composer myself, and a member of The Ivors Academy, managing the programme is a tremendous privilege and a real highlight of my role as ABRSM’s Partnerships Manager. The programme has been supported by The Ivors Academy since its launch in 2021 and represents just one strand of a wide-ranging partnership between our organisations that focuses on supporting the next generation of music creators.

You can apply to be part of the next cohort here.

Composers of today may work in a variety of contexts, with different instruments, technology, media and people. Writing for music education explores specifically the many different opportunities that exist for composers working in the educational space, from school ensembles and community choirs to jazz groups and music exams, to name just a few. The compositional tasks that mentees will encounter throughout the programme will cover a variety of these contexts, including the opportunity to work with some of ABRSM’s partner organisations. The 2022/23 cohort worked with the National Open Youth Orchestra (writing for ensemble featuring Clarion), the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain (for full children’s orchestra) and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (for jazz sextet and big band). Composer mentee Florence Maunders even had her big band piece performed at Ronnie Scott’s in February to a packed house!

The programme is also a key strand of ABRSM’s work to transform our own syllabuses and publications so they are increasingly rich and diverse in both the musical content and the composers they feature. Perhaps most tantalising about this programme is that, given some of the pieces composed during the programme may find their way into our catalogue, composers have the opportunity to reach a truly global audience with their music. A number of composer mentees have had commissions to write for our syllabuses, including Shruthi Rajasekar and Kristina Arakelyan, who feature on our latest Piano syllabus.

We’re looking for our next cohort of six composers and would love to hear from you if you are interested in writing music for education specifically. The programme is not a ‘how to’ course, so we are looking for people whose professional work already includes composition, but there will be plenty of guidance along the way with regard to writing music that fits an educational brief.

We’re delighted that The Ivors Academy continues to support recruitment for the programme, so please get in touch with them directly to make your application or to ask any questions at all. The programme runs from September 2023 – February 2024, and an example programme outline is below to give you a flavour of what to expect and the time commitment required. ABRSM will cover travel expenses for in-person activities where applicable, and we are looking for composers from across the UK.

Writing for Music Education: ABRSM composer mentoring programme from ABRSM on Vimeo.


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