Letters extra : TES hits the wrong note

19th March 2004 at 00:00

Your headline Music pilots fail to hit right note with pupils ( TES, March 5) is incorrect and a totally misleading account of the conference last week which introduced the Ofsted report which forms the basis of your article.

"Music For Life" was a celebration and showcase for 12 pilot schemes which, as the Government says, "are a significant first step in commitment tonbsp;... helping give every primary pupil in the country a chance to learn a musical instrument."

Watched by an audience including the two ministers David Miliband and Estelle Morris as well as David Bell HM Chief Inspector of Schools, hundreds of school kids performed on stage - showing the great diversity of approaches taken across the country.nbsp;

David Bell told the conference: "The majority of Wider Opportunities pilots have produced high-quality work by skilfully combining the teaching of musical skills, new musical experiences and specialist tuition into one effective programme."nbsp; He explained that 1,500 kids had been involved in these pilots and that Youth Music had given out pound;10 million in funding so far.

David Miliband - as you reported - announced an extra pound;1.5 million to expand the schemes whilst Estelle Morris challenged us to be "as ambitious with music as we were with numeracy and literacy because now the time is right".

Margaret Martin-Griffiths, from HM Inspectors, summarised the positive conclusions from the Ofsted report:
-nbsp;Partnerships between school based staff, music service tutors and professional musicians improved teaching and learning.
-nbsp;Kids learn best when in groups - such as whole class tuition - individuals progress together and large ensemble opportunities resulted in lower drop-out rates.nbsp;
-nbsp;Diversity - including different instruments, music and blends - leads to success.

My company has provided some Jupiter brass and woodwind instruments to one of the pilot schemes - the Croydon Sound Start - and the reaction has been fantastic. In September 2001,nbsp;30 young pupils from Elmwood Primary School in Central Croydon picked up instruments for the first time. Nine months later, the band performed to general acclaim on stage at the Fairfield Halls. A similar story was seen with Applegarth Junior School who played at the Barbican last week.

You also failed to mention that the Ofsted report includes a DVD filmed during their evaluations showing many of the schemes across the country and this is being sent to all Primary Schools this month together with support material.

Rob Castle
Managing Director
Korg UK

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