Out of tune

20th February 1998 at 00:00
The subject of music education has been high on the media agenda recently. We are fortunate that we have champions such as Sir Simon Rattle to give a high profile to our deep concerns over the Government's decision to release schools, temporarily, from a statutory obligation to teach music in the curriculum.

My view of this directive is that it will provide schools with low literacy and numeracy ratings with the opportunity to devote more time to these crucial subjects. As I understand it, the Government is not saying that music shall not be taught. On the contrary it has been clearly stated that schools have an obligation to provide a balanced curriculum.

While I have spent a great part of my life crusading to keep music alive for all children, and will continue to do so, it has to be said that there is a common misconception about the effect this directive will have on music in education. The fact is that no school in the UK has, or ever has had, a statutory obligation to provide instrumental tuition.

The truth is that the introduction of music into the curriculum was a convenient smokescreen for former Conservative education minister Angela Rumbold among others to begin the process of dismantling the local authority music services. Sadly our politicians continue to trade on the popular misunderstanding that music in the curriculum equates with the right to learn to play a musical instrument.

LARRY WESTLAND CBE Founder and executive director Music For Youth 102 Point Pleasant, London SW18

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