Boys hate 'girly' music lessons

BOYS are fed-up with old-fashioned music teachers who force them to sing songs with "girly" lyrics, says new research.

Janet Mills, of the Royal College of Music, and Susan O'Neill, of Keele University, asked 329 11-year-olds about their music lessons. They then asked an independent expert to rate the schools' provision on a 10-point scale.

Boys agreed with the expert about the quality of music in all schools. But lessons judged to be merely "medium" by experts and boys were rated more highly by girls, suggesting the classes suited them better. Dr Mills said:

"In primary schools music has historically been very much a girls' subject. There has been a lot of recorder playing and singing songs with fairly effeminate lyrics.

"In the 'medium' schools there was more recorder playing and girls will put up with it whereas boys are less tolerant."

In the schools that won the highest ratings from the expert, there was also a difference between boys' and girls' perceptions. But this time girls had a lower opinion of the lessons.

Dr Mills said that the girls in schools with high-quality music provision might feel their schools were doing less for them because they had less positive feed-back from teachers. All schools were rated on timetabled lessons, rather than optional after-school provision.

Schools marked as poor by the expert did little to involve children in music-making concentrating instead on rhythms and instruments such as the triangle. In these cases both boys and girls agreed that music was poorly done.

Children at the highest-rated schools composed and performed music on a range of instruments.

A separate report by Dr O'Neill published earlier this year found that children thought the recorder was "uncool".

"Boys are better! Judging the quality of music provision in primary schools" by Janet Mills and Susan O'Neill. For copies contact jmills@rcm.ac.uk

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