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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Music education is now only for the white and the wealthy | The Guardian - education


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"Music lessons have become increasingly hard to access in schools. To enable more children to learn, we must stop teaching in such an academic way." argues Charlotte Gill, regular contributor to The Spectator, The Independent and The Telegraph.

‘Like artists, musicians vary immensely in their tastes, tools and learning mechanisms.’
Photo: Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images/Moment RM
Music education is deteriorating around the country. Despite the enormous contribution of the music industry to the UK economy, with the creative industries overall estimated to generate £85bn net a year to GDP, the government remains placid about its importance in schools. The Conservatives are too focused on the English baccalaureate, introduced to boost the number of students studying science and languages, to care.

This is a great shame, as research has shown the huge benefits that music brings to children’s happiness and learning. Interestingly, the government does care about psychological development in schools, and recently announced plans to trial mental health training for pupils, but it has not dawned on politicians that this, and more, can be achieved through the arts.

Music education has become harder and harder to access since 2010, when the baccalaureate was introduced, and since when the number of students taking music at GCSE and A-level has dropped by about 9% as teachers homed in on “academic” subjects.

Increasingly, the onus has been on parents – and children – to take up private tuition, putting those who cannot afford such lessons at a disadvantage. Indeed, in 2014, the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain found that out of its members aged seven to 13, nearly 70% of those at state school received private education. In 2012-13, only 10% of music students at universities came from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

But that’s not the only problem. For a creative subject, music has always been taught in a far too academic way, meaning that theoretical knowledge is the main route to advancement. While there are routes into musical careers for the untrained, and many pop, rap and grime artists have never studied music formally, there are also dozens of choirs and amateur collectives that put a huge focus on musical notation.

This is a cryptic, tricky language – rather like Latin – that can only be read by a small number of people, most of whom have benefited from private education. Children who do not have the resources, or ability, to comprehend it, are written off. Even when they are capable performers.
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Source: The Guardian


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