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Music is in sound shape

YOUR survey of only 400 teachers fails to recognise the Government's achievement in halting the decline in instrumental tuition after years of cutbacks before 1998 (TES, November 17).

Research by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music - based on a sample of more than 1,500 people - found that the proportion of children taking part in instrumental lessons increased from 69 to 73 per cent between 1996 and 1999.

We are now starting a substantial expansion across the country. As we said in 1998, our first objective was to stabilise music provision and then to expand it. Last month weannounced more money for school music, bringing our investment to pound;270 million by 2004. Local education authorities need to play a part in this. Don't forget that before 1998 there was no central funding for music at all.

As the Federation of Music Services said last month: "Music services can now look forward with confidence to a further period of financial stability, enabling them to make more improvements in access, range of opportunities, and quality."

Jacqui Smith MP

Education minister

Department for Education and Employment

Sanctuary Buildings

London SW1

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