Stars back call for free lessons
Conductor Sir Simon Rattle said: "Music isn't a luxury - it's a necessity in young people's lives."
Violinist Vanessa Mae said: "Giving youngsters an early introduction to music is important not only for identifying the stars of the future, but also for helping all children to appreciate music."
Singer Lesley Garratt stressed the importance of choral as well as instrumental music. She said: "My first real experience of choral singing was in the Thorne grammar-chool choir. I realise how vital that early experience was to my development, not only as a singer but in life generally, and I still recall the exhilaration that comes from being part of a big sound. Children today don't necessarily have the chances that I took for granted."
Larry Westland, founder and executive director of the charity Music For Youth, said there were signs that music was back at the top of the education agenda.
He said: "Morale has improved 100 per cent since the Government started to put some financial muscle into music, but we still have a long way to go before we reach our goal of free instrumental lessons for all."