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Nicola Benedetti: studying classical music is as important as Shakespeare or Dickens

All pupils should listen to classical music in school, just as all pupils learn maths and read Shakespeare or Dickens, according to internationally renowned violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Benedetti points out that music teachers often worry about whether or not it will be fun for children to listen to classical music. Teachers of other subjects, however, rarely express similar concerns.

“We don’t ask kids, ‘Would you like to study maths today?’ or ‘Would you like to read this long book?’” she says. “They’re probably going to say ‘no’.

“We don’t ask them because we know it’s right for them and it’s good for them. So often people say, ‘We can’t just dictate to children.’ But what’s school, then?”

Benedetti first came to national prominence when she won the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the age of 16. Since then she has signed a £1 million, six-album recording contract and performed as a soloist with orchestras in cities including London, New York, Berlin and Hong Kong.

At 10am on 10 November, she will be leading a live music lesson to be streamed on the TES website. The lesson, part of the BBC's Ten Pieces campaign to get children interested in classical music, is aimed at key-stage 2 pupils and will include tips drawn from Benedetti’s own career and musical experience.

It will culminate in a rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, performed by Benedetti, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and a selection of classroom musicians. Online viewers will also be encouraged to participate in the performance.

Find all the information you need to deliver the lesson by clicking this link or go to

For the full interview with Nicola Benedetti read this week's TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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