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Ringing musical changes

The Government is to invest an additional pound;30 million to push forward its new music education manifesto. The additional funding will be added to the ring-fenced Music Standards Fund in 20078, and will be used to ensure that every primary pupil has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument at school.

At present, the Music Standards Fund offers almost pound;60m a year to local authority music services, guaranteed until July 2008.

Announcing the new funding, David Miliband, the school standards minister, said: "This will be a key supplement to rising school budgets as we expand music provision in primary and secondary schools."

Mr Miliband has also appointed Marc Jaffrey, music project executive at the BBC, as "champion" of the manifesto. His role will be to push forward its agenda, and to work with schools and music professionals .

He said: "Music transforms the way pupils experience learning. It can have a real impact on an individual's willingness to learn more broadly. I want to spend time in classrooms with teachers, pupils and parents, listening to what the issues are for them."

The music manifesto was launched in July this year when the Department for Education and Skills said that it would provide every primary child with free or discounted instrumental lessons. It also agreed to provide a national scholarship award for "exceptionally talented" pupils. But a number of leading musicians said that the manifesto was underfunded, and was therefore unlikely to achieve much.

Mr Jaffrey agreed that this was a concern. He said: "Money and resources will always be an issue in education, but it's also about sharing extraordinary practice."

Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist, was among those sceptical about whether the Government could meet its commitments. But he has welcomed the new funding.

"The funding offered is never enough, but it's an important start," he said.

"Music education has been allowed to slip in schools, but it looks like finally something is being done about it. We asked for cash and now we've got it."

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