Why Bach cannot be whispered

11th September 1998 at 01:00
As a former colleague and an admirer of Roger Durston, the director of music at Wells Cathedral School, I was interested to read of his philosophy for diversifying the musical expertise and experience of the specialist musicians at Wells (TES, August 28).

What concerns me is the implication that this approach represents a route to salvation in other schools where the class music teaching is seen as a "turn-off".

My recent experience alongside young teachers in ordinary maintained schools in ordinary suburban areas suggests that "classical" repertoire is actually seldomtaught below key stage 4. The vast majority of pupil performing and composing is entirely in the rockpop idiom in order to reinforce the teacher's "street cred".

It gave me little pleasure to invigilate a test last term where Year 9 pupils answered questions on Shakespeare and other literary heavyweights, while I could not whisper the word Bach for fear of ridicule within the profession, let alone within the classroom.

Nicholas Sherwood

17 Queen's Road Loughton, Essex

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