LAST week's Schools Proms may now be no more than a distant echo, but they remind us that the very best in school music still thrives. There are signs from our survey of primaries, however, that the roots of musical excellence are not yet being nurtured as David Blunkett promised in 1998.
School music, of course, exists at three levels: the formal music curriculum; extra-curricular singing and playing in school; and instrumental tuition. Our survey suggests the decline in music-making in the primary classroom apparent two years ago has been stabilised. There are problems finding specialist teachrs but most children sing and play in class as much as they did, and some more.
But there is a worrying fall in pupils learning an instrument, according to primary heads, and an increase in charging for such tuition. Two factors seem to be involved: delegation of music money may leave primary schools unable or unwilling to support instrumental teaching as before. And there is little net increase in funding where local authorities substitute central government cash for the money they were already spending on music services, thus thwarting the Education Secretary's excellent intentions.