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Primary musicians strive for perfect pitch

A West Midlands primary has built music teaching into every aspect of its work thanks to the efforts of a specialist teacher.

Steve Cash, of Park Hall junior school, in Walsall, has set up well-respected choirs and an orchestra, and teaches its 400 pupils to compose and perform their own songs.

This week Lord Adonis, the schools minister, announced pound;2 million for extra training for primary music teachers to encourage them to adopt an approach more like Park Hall's.

The money, part of a wider pound;30m promotion of music for seven to 11-year-olds, will fund the Open university and Trinity College, London, to devise free courses, starting next spring, for some 2,000 primary music teachers.

Mr Cash no longer has his own class but teaches music across the school. He said: "Music brings the school together. It is seen as being an important part of the school, and that's why the children want to be involved."

Pete Griffin, Park Hall's head, said former pupils returned fondly to Park Hall to join in choir or orchestra rehearsals.

"These days, we are so focused on English, maths and science targets that it's good to have something that's strong that we excel at," he said.

An Ofsted report on the teaching of music found that the number of children learning to play an instrument rose from 7 per cent in 2002 to 13 per cent in 2005.

* A recent study by Laurel Trainor of McMaster university in Ontario, Canada, suggests that music lessons could improve young children's memories.

Professor Trainor's research found that children aged between four and six who were taught music for a year performed better in memory tests than those who had not.

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