Music in schools is sound

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
IT'S happened again. Your article on the new report "Arts education in secondary schools" (TES, October 6) finishes by saying that the Government is giving money to "halt the decline in school music".

Can I make clear there are three kinds of "school music". One is music in classrooms in formal national curriculum time for all pupils up to 14 and as an option post 14.

There are still some real problems raised in the report in making this curriculum relevant to all pupils, while at the same time opening their ears to a broader and deeper understanding of a range of music and its significance in people's lives.

A second kind is that music provided within school but usually in lunchtimes and after school: such things as ensembles, bands, orchestras and concerts. This is frequently provided by teachers voluntarily in their own time.

The third kind is the instrumental and vocal teaching provided by local authority music services soetimes within the school, sometimes outside it at other centres, to enable pupils to become first-rate players.

This work is, at its best, extremely aware of, and complementary to, what pupils are learning within their lessons in school. It is accessible to all but only taken up by a proportion of pupils and usually has to be paid for by the school or the parents. This is the sector which is usually referred to when we see the lurid headlines about the decline of school music.

Music has never been more secure in schools, with its assured place in the curriculum. It's the high-level skills and experiences beyond the curriculum for the most motivated which are most under threat. We welcome the Government's attempts to improve the stability of the funding for this part of the curriculum.

Anice Paterson

Past chair

National Association of Music


1 Garth Heads

Beast Banks

Kendal, Cumbria

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