Dangerous complacency

8th December 2000 at 00:00
WHILE I am pleased that the Government has done something for instrumental music teaching in schools, education minister Jacqui Smith's optimism rests on shaky foundations (Letters, November 24). The very small samples used for the Associated Board's "Making Music" surveys need to be viewed with caution.

Furthermore, while I recognise that a few schools are still achieving excellent results in instrumental music, it is unwise for Leonora Davies to take the exceptional performances of only 1,200 performers at this year's Schools Proms as evidence that the overall state of school music is satisfactory.

Those with greater and more recent experience of what is actually happening in schools would regard Smith and Davies as being dangerously complacent. We needto find some way of halting the marginalisation of instrumental music, which is now at epidemic proportions.

However, some good things are happening. In my own discipline, brass teaching, most practitioners (myself included) still love their jobs and believe passionately in what they are doing. Over the past 20 years or so, our understanding of instrumental technique has grown hugely, as has the range and quality of repertoire available to us.

Our teaching, like that of colleagues, has benefited from numerous pedagogical innovations. It would be a tragedy if this huge resource of skill and goodwill was not brought to bear to improve the lives of Britain's children.

Dr MJ Lomas

The Brow

Avebury Trusloe

Marlborough, Wiltshire

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