Guide gives tips for fighting music cuts;Music for the Millennium

12th June 1998 at 01:00
Lessons learned by American campaigners trying to save high-school music are being passed across the Atlantic.

A new step-by-step guide to lobbying to help keep music in schools is to be published next Friday by the Music Industries Association.

The guide, which contributes to The TES's Music for the Millennium campaign, was inspired by the US National Coalition for Music Education, which is supported by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary.

The coalition was set up to arrest the decline of music in high schools. In 1961, 67 per cent of junior high and 70 per cent of all high schools offered orchestral programmes, but by 1996 the combined percentage dropped to just 14 per cent.

In Britain in the first five months of 1998, more than pound;6 million was wiped off the budgets of local instrumental music services. "Education in music is too often viewed as an optional extra, and therefore expendable, despite its ability to affect people, children's education and the quality of life in Britain's communities," the MIA says.

Music suffered badly from the delegation of budgets to schools because it was the only subject not taught solely by resident staff. As local education budgets decreased peripatetic services were cut.

Now schools can determine how much music is taught in the curriculum as well as how much they spend on tuition.

"Therefore, although the problems facing both elements of music education are national in scope, they are manifested locally, and must be campaigned against locally," the guide advises.

Even if a service is not threatened, "you should not be complacent", it warns. "Ad-hoc reactions to crises are far from ideal. The most effective time to defuse a crisis is before it strikes."

The guide, Let the children play, will be available at half price (pound;5) at the Mad About Music Show at the London Arena on Friday June 19, or for pound;10 from the MIA, Wix Hill House, Epsom Road, West Horsley, Surrey KT24 6DZ.

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