Fourth "R"

Diane Spencer

* The Government is being strongly urged to add a fourth "R" to the school curriculum: rhythm, writes Diane Spencer.

The Campaign for Music in the Curriculum, supported by all groups with an interest in music education in Britain, has presented a powerful case to politicians for providing every pupil with a minimum of one hour's music teaching a week.

Bob Kelly, the campaign's secretary, said although proposed changes to the primary curriculum did not technically exclude music, his members feared that the subject could easily be sidelined in the jostle for space in a crowded timetable.

A pamphlet launched today highlights research from Hungary, Switzerland and the United States which shows that children's learning of music significantly improved their abilities in other subjects, particularly when they start from an early age - even though learning music slightly reduces time for other subjects.

Music helped pupils' reading, maths, fluency in languages and artistic ability. It also had beneficial by-products useful to employers: teamwork, co-ordination, self discipline, and communication.

The campaign supports the Government's drive to improve literacy and numeracy, but says the case for music as a separate subject in the curriculum is overwhelming.

The pamphlet comes hard on the heels of an impassioned plea from Sir Simon Rattle, one of the country's leading conductors. He led the fight six years ago to get music into the curriculum. He fears the Britain could go the same way as the States where music is marginalised in schools.

Classics in the Curriculum can be ordered from QCA Publications, PO Box 235, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 1HF

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Diane Spencer

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