More are making music

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Your report does not do justice to the innovative nature of the Wider Opportunities pilots. Children who previously would never have dreamed that they could learn to play an instrument are now being given this opportunity.

This is a new way of working with primary-age children in music. Picking out keen pupils and teaching them an instrument in small groups is relatively straightforward. Working with large groups and whole classes, and providing opportunities for children to experience music in a wide range of styles and genres including gamelan, steel pans, samba, jazz and African drumming as well as the more traditional strings, woodwind and brass is a very different matter.

Of course quality is important, and Ofsted's evaluation includes clear recommendations for future developments which should enable the scheme to go from strength to strength.

Ofsted's report noted that one of the results of whole class or large group tuition was the increased number of pupils wanting to continue - sometimes between 70 and 100 per cent - and this will be no surprise to those of us who attended the celebration of these pilots at the Barbican on March 3.

Wider Opportunities builds on the entitlement to music in the curriculum for all pupils, and complements it. The national curriculum claims that "Music is a powerful, unique form of communication that can change the way pupils feel, think and act" and this was certainly reflected in these children's music-making.

It is good to see ministerial support, in the form of David Miliband's announcement of an additional pound;1.5 million to expand Wider Opportunities. Everyone involved should be congratulated.

Professor Helen Coll

Past chair, National Association of Music Educators

Gordon Lodge, Snitterton Road Matlock, Derbyshire

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