Music Makers

Are young people aged 7-25 interested in making music?

Youth Music, a national charity investing in musicmaking projects, have recently published a comprehensive review of children and young people’s relationship with music. Their report The Sound of the Next Generation is pretty positive and we should breathe a sigh of relief.

The report says that the majority of young people are active music-makers and there are more young people making music than in a previous Youth Music survey conducted in 2006. It found 2/3 of young people in England are active musicians and that “Those who regularly make music feel more in control of their future.”

This will be hugely encouraging to anyone that works in music education even though the state of music education in state schools is in a perilous state. Lord Black is leading the way in getting music heard again but says “Instead of music being a fundamental right of all children, it is rapidly becoming the preserve of the privileged few at independent schools as it dies out in the state sector.”

Youth Music worked with Ipsos MORI and conducted online surveys with a representative sample of 1,001 young people aged 7 to 17 across England. They also conducted in-depth interviews with participants involved in Youth Music projects.

The report found that music really matters and sits at the centre of many young people’s lives. What it really shows is the contribution music plays to wellbeing and mental health and so why schools need to make music high profile. It says,

Listening to music makes most young people feel happy; and the effects of making music are even more powerful than listening to it.

The Sound of the Next Generation is a positive sign that there is plenty of music making going on but imagine how much more there would be if schools made more time for it. The report reminds us that “Music in secondary schools is in decline, posing risks for young people’s creativity and wellbeing and the future economy.”

For Music Education, it recommends two key things:

1. Music education in schools must be maintained but should be re-imagined, with a new model – supported and valued by Ofsted – that’s more aligned with young people’s existing musical  identities and with outcomes that go beyond attainment to better capitalise on music’s social value.

2. Music education should be more industry-facing in its curricula and partnerships and better consider the needs of DIY musicians. Digital technologies should be embedded, and programmes should prepare young people for a wide variety of industry roles including what’s required to have a successful freelance career.

But wait….

Results of a new survey published by UK record labels association the British Phonographic Industry reveal the stark and growing disparity between the provision of music in state and independent schools. The BPI calls on the Government to…

  • Intervene to reverse the worrying trend of reduced music provision and curriculum time in schools, providing additional funding where necessary;
  • Address the disparities in access to music instrument lessons, which particularly affect those in the most deprived schools, by boosting funding for musical instrument lessons to ensure the most deprived pupils have the opportunity for tuition;
  • Recognise music as a core component of the education of young people, and ensure that it is a clear requirement in the accountability framework that music should be regarded as an essential part of a school’s performance;
  • Ensure all pupils have access to musical group activities, whether in school or through the music hub;
  • Add non-specialist teachers to the independent panel of experts helping devise the curriculum to ensure that it works for all teachers and for all schools.

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