Make our music live;Opinion

24th April 1998 at 01:00
Across the United Kingdom The TES has been influential in creating a campaign to protect the teaching of music in schools. A survey conducted in all four parts of the country shows the extent to which the subject is under threat.

This is partly for financial reasons and partly because the new emphasis on 'basic' subjects is reducing the time teachers have for other areas.

Fortunately the position in Scotland is not as serious. South of the border one in five primaries are plan to reduce music teaching. We must thank our less centrally directed curriculum - although teachers struggling with the guidelines for environmental studies and expressive arts may see only slight shadings in definitions of 'centralism'. But even if the balance of the primary school day is canted a little more towards literacy and numeracy, it remains much as has been suggested by HMI for some years. Almost all Scottish respondents to The TES survey reported no change in the time devoted to music.

The danger here is to instrumental teaching. Many, but by no means all, local authorities have imposed charges. The Education Ministers thinks them unnecessary. Councils reply that the choice is between charging fees and reducing the numbers of instrumental teachers. The chance to try a violin or flute should no longer be confined to the few. Playing, and even composing, are as important as listening. Charges can be a threat to the quality as well as the quantity of teaching.

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