Make time for music say musicians

9th May 2003 at 01:00
Leading performers to warn Education Secretary that he risks creating a generation of unharmonious students. Nicholas Pyke reports

SOME of the most famous names in classical music are to tell Charles Clarke that he must rescue their subject from the margins of school life.

Sir James Galway, Julian Lloyd Webber, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and composer Michael Kamen will urge the Education Secretary later this month to give music dedicated time in the curriculum.

They believe the move is necessary to combat the overwhelming pressure of tests and targets. Without it, Britain will develop a generation of musically illiterate students, they say. The four musicians were this week among a range of leading figures from the arts to join the TES Target Creativity campaign.

The campaign, launched last week, calls on ministers to free schools from the stranglehold of the primary target regime and encourage teachers and pupils to be more imaginative.

Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, novelist Doris Lessing, Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley, poet Michael Rosen and novelist Philip Pullman are among the celebrities who have lined up in support.

The four musicians want to go further and ensure pupils take part in music every day. They also want more specialist teachers trained so every child gets the chance to learn a musical instrument.

"There must be some obligatory music on the curriculum, even if it is only half an hour a day," said Julian Lloyd Webber, internationally renowned cellist and brother of composer Andrew. "If it is not obligatory, many headteachers simply will not feel able to do it.

"This Government is trying more than most to do something. It realises there is a problem and that music has gradually disappeared from schools.

The main reason is there is no protected time for learning music in schools."

Earlier this year the four musicians wrote to Tony Blair to raise their "grave concern about the increasing marginalisation of music" at school.

The meeting with Mr Clarke is a direct result. They cited research from Classic FM suggesting two-thirds of children below the age of 14 were unable to name a single classical composer.

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