For many of us, and particularly as children mature, music can feel like the only outlet. Lyrics and tunes can represent what they are feeling, and at a time when children are changing into young adults they often feel misunderstood, but somehow music gets them, or they find a band or singer they can identify with.
Sadly, music education in the UK seems in decline. This is partly down to the English baccalaureate, introduced in 2010 to boost the number of students studying science and languages. With the UK education system focusing more on ‘purer’ academic subjects, this is very worrying indeed.
There are many hidden costs of a fading music education. There have been many reports highlighting the merits and benefits of music lessons, such as improved brain dexterity, which is important for academic success because of how learning music can stimulate the brain to improve processing and retention. Furthermore, studies stress the importance of music lessons to help build self-esteem and confidence and reduce anxiety. Some studies also suggest that music can help those with dyslexia.
As musical tutors, we see this first hand. We see how our students flourish and gain confidence and self-esteem. We see them engage and interact and thank us for giving them an outlet. We hear from the parents how they are performing better at school and becoming more disciplined with revision and information retention.
Don’t Waste The Talent
So, it is with such sadness that we watch the education system continue to cut music lessons from the curriculum.
Recent figures from the University of Sussex suggest the number of schools in England offering music GCSE dropped from 85% to 79% between 2012 and 2016. The survey, which spoke to 657 state and 48 private schools across England, claimed the amount of 13 and 14-year-olds given compulsory music lessons fell by nearly 25%.
Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music, warned BBC’s Newsbeat that future talent could be going to waste because of a drop in the number of GCSE places being offered in England. Worryingly, there is a risk that music lessons will only go to the wealthy and elite, endangering the development of new music, which has historically come from all sectors in society.
It is imperative that children have access to musical education.
The Amazons, who recently had a top 10 UK album after backing from BBC Introducing, said they wouldn’t have been as successful without access to music facilities when they were younger.
“Me and Chris [guitarist Chris Alderton] went to school together,” singer Matt Thomson told Newsbeat.
“We played guitar in the practice rooms in lunchtimes.
“If you don’t have encouragement and recourses, it’s easier to give up. Without them we wouldn’t be here.”
So please don’t give up on music. The benefits are wide reaching and profound.
Harmeet October 6th, 2017
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