The origins of Learn to Rock
Learn to Rock is a company that was established in 2006 by Dr Alison Smith EdD (Leeds University) BA (Hons), PGCE. Alison Smith is a music educator, advisor, researcher, examiner and performer in the field of contemporary popular music. Alison graduated from Leeds University in 1989 with a First Class Honours degree in Music subsequently graduating with a Post Graduate Certificate (Distinction) in Education from Leeds University in 1990.
In May 1990 Alison was appointed as the Head of Music at the then new Dixons City Technology College in Bradford (now Dixons City Academy). Alison maintained this role for almost fourteen years and in that time built a tremendous music department nationally renowned for excellence in public performances, student entry to Oxbridge and highly recognised music conservatoires and student academic achievement from year 7 through to post 16. Alison’s reputation for encouraging students to become professional performers and achieving the highest possible standards in academic music became second to none.
Whilst at Dixons, Alison also became heavily involved in the Initial Teacher Training programme and worked closely with Leeds University, Bretton Hall College, Bradford College, Huddersfield University and The Open University in training music teachers. In all Alison mentored 35 music teachers during her fourteen years at Dixons, many of whom are now Heads of Music in secondary schools around the country. Some are leadership team teachers and primary school deputy and head teachers.
During her time at Dixons CTC Alison began to work nationally and internationally in advising on teaching and learning within music education. In 1996 Alison became involved with The Open University in developing and leading the way with the then innovative concept of using Music Technology to support student learning in Music, specifically in instrumental learning.
Whilst developing and building the music department at Dixons CTC, Alison was invited to become a part-time examiner with Rock School (Trinity College of Music, London). At that time Alison was and had been the only female examiner and advisor to Rock School since its introduction in the 1980s. Alison worked for three years as an examiner and then senior examiner for two years.
In 1997, whilst working at Dixons CTC, Alison commenced a part time Doctoral Degree in Education at the University of Leeds. Alison’s main research interests lay in developing and devising methods of data gathering and analysis within music education (both primary and secondary) and her thesis investigation area focused on the impact of music technology on teaching and learning curriculum and extra-curricular music. Alison graduated as a Doctor of Education from the University of Leeds in July 2007.
Since her graduation, Alison has been involved in research, teaching and training on the subject of teaching and learning in music education using music technology, popular music learning, exploring innovative methods for teaching and learning in instrumental study and to develop mechanisms within music education to support early years, KS1 and 2 students learning aspects of Communication, Language and Literacy.
In January 2004 Alison was appointed as the Vice Principal for Kirklees Music School, a post which she held until 2010 when she left to focus on developing Learn to Rock.