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Monday, November 02, 2015

Professor Lloyd Webber strikes right note on music education

"In primary schools today it cannot be guaranteed that there will be a member of staff who can play the piano." continues The Independent.

A new concert hall for London costing half a billion pounds? You can see why Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist and principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire is indignant. In our interview with him about the “crisis” in music education in this country and says that a new concert hall on the site of the Museum of London is the wrong priority. 

Julian Lloyd Webber says sidelining music is ‘misguided’ (Rex)

He is right, although The Independent on Sunday is not opposed in principle to a concert hall for acoustic perfectionists in our well-served capital if City companies want to come up with the money. We simply doubt that it would be the best use of public resources. Indeed, glad as we are that George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, are enthusiastic about classical music, we fear that their involvement suggests that this is a vanity project. 

Professor Lloyd Webber is certainly right about priorities. If City firms want to promote the love of music, there must be ways in which they can work with schools, and if politicians want to bask in shouts of “encore!” they should look to the state of music education in Britain today. 

There can be no doubt that music in too many schools is poorly integrated into the curriculum. Too often, pupils are taken out of mainstream classes for instrument lessons, and have to make up work later. But the problem of music education is more fundamental. Peripatetic music services are often regarded as an easy source for savings. Too few children learn to read music – for the younger adherents of the new adult fashion for choral music, too many have to rely on ear and repetition. In primary schools today it cannot be guaranteed that there will be a member of staff who can play the piano. 

The Department for Education (DfE) rather selectively claims that the numbers taking music at GCSE went up last year, but they are down 20 per cent on the peak in 2007. On the narrow question of whether the new baccalaureate core curriculum has squeezed music out of the GCSE curriculum, the DfE is right, but the question is more fundamental. It is whether music is valued in schools.
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Source: The Independent 

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