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Let the brass bands play on

The curmudgeonly Thomas Beecham was no fan of brass bands: "They are all very well in their place - outdoors and several miles away." But even Sir Thomas might have been charmed by the Rochdale junior brass band's performance at Wednesday's Schools Prom. They and their fellow performers provided an invigorating reminder of the strength of school music, which now ranges from Mussorgsky to Ms Dynamite.

But how representative are these youngsters? Government figures released this week show that only 8 per cent of children receive tuition from local authority music services. And, inevitably, white middle-class pupils - particularly girls - receive much of that tuition.

The Government, to its credit, is tackling this inequality but it is still some way from achieving its 2001 promise to offer music tuition to every primary child. Another direct appeal to our guitar-playing prime minister may therefore be needed: "Music, maestro, please!"

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