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OPINION: Why the whole of the MI industry should support music lessons

Laura  Barnes
OPINION: Why the whole of the MI industry should support music lessons

The likes of ISM have been campaigning heavily to protect creative subjects in schools, but is the wider musical instrument industry doing enough to support the continuation of music lessons?

After the past month we’ve seen figures showing that EBacc subjects are at an all-time high and fewer pupils are taking creative subjects.

But last week, we started to see the real-life impact the protection of core subjects and tight school budgets are starting to have on the future of music lessons in UK schools, as Essex’s Joyce Frankland Academy announced that it has removed weekly music lessons for pupils aged between 11 and 13.

ISM commented that “the removal of music from the timetable is severely limiting the opportunities open to children at this important stage of their education”.
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ISM has now published its CEO Deborah Annetts’ keynote speech from the Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar: The future of music education in England.

Annetts outlined how funding music education has not been plain sailing over the past 6 years, with hub funding falling from 82.5m in 2011 to £58m in 2014.

“As we know the sector came together and persuaded the government to increase funding in 2015 to £75 million which is where it now sits, with funding confirmed to 2020.

“Unfortunately, local authority funding has all but disappeared for music education hubs making it even more difficult for them to deliver the National Plan for Music Education Plan. 

“And since 2014 school funding has also come under pressure with schools facing an 8% cut in real terms. As a result 71% head teachers in a recent NAHT survey said they had to make cuts to balance their budget. And this in turn is having an impact on the provision of music in our schools.”

The ISM CEO also published some of the responses from both teachers and parents to the news about Joyce Frankland Academy’s music lesson axe.

From parents:

“We both know just how important music is for all other curriculum areas and development.”

“Music should be available to everyone at every stage of education, and not just the occasional token singing assembly being used to tick that box.”

From teachers:

“No KS3 music at one of my local schools. I was teaching violin there until they told me I couldn't take children out of core subject classes. So now no instrumental lessons there either.”

“Very worried for our future. Two flute/sax teachers in this family.”

“The curriculum is being narrowed down to Maths, English and a bit of Science - the government don't care about music, and make little effort to conceal it. Funding cuts, together with ever-increasing, unrealistic targets, squeeze music out of the curriculum both in terms of finance and teaching time.”

While the MI industry is not responsible for school budgets, it’s beneficial to every element of the sector to do anything they can to support young people getting into music.

Most MI retailers, manufacturers and businesses have come about due to the passion for music and musical instruments that their owners and workers have. We are an industry of musicians, and a large portion of us have the access to instruments from a young age to thank for our passion.

Just because you might not be involved in education or your local school, doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch and see if there’s any way you could be of service, whether it’s offering loan instruments or even space for private music lessons.

There are some great businesses in the industry already working very closely with the education sector, and we hope they continue and encourage others to invest in the future of the industry as well.

Tags: education , music lessons , ism , Opinion , school budget cuts

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