All children need access to a good music education

All together now: children learn the ukulele at Llandogo primary school, near Monmouth Photo: Alamy

SIR — In 2011 the Government announced an inspiring initiative, the National Plan for Music, to ensure all children, whatever their background, would get a good music education and the opportunity to learn an instrument.

However, this promise is not being met and recent studies show serious cause for concern. A sector-wide report from the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) revealed that 40 per cent of British children from more disadvantaged backgrounds who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn at school. A Paul Hamlyn Foundation review this summer found that in primary schools, only half of music teachers surveyed said they had the necessary resources. Research for James Rhodes’s Don’t Stop the Music television series chimed with these reports, and identified significant problems with teacher training, funding and progression opportunities — issues often raised by the sector.

Music has proven benefits for children — building confidence, teamwork and discipline, and encouraging improvements in literacy and numeracy. But music can easily be undervalued in an already crowded curriculum — a situation worsened by the lack of attention paid to it in regular Ofsted inspections.

The Government must fulfil its commitment and end the inequality of opportunity in school music.

James Rhodes

Concert Pianist and Champion of the Don’t Stop the Music campaign

Professor Colin Lawson Director, Royal College of Music

Russell Hobby General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers

Julian Lloyd Webber Founder of In Harmony


Jeremy Newton CEO, Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts

Richard Hallam Chair, The Music Education Council

Anthony Bowne Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Professor David Saint Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire

Katherine Zeserson Director of Learning and Participation, Sage Gateshead

Professor Joe Wilson Director of Curriculum, Leeds College of Music

Deborah Annetts Chief Executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians

Jem Shuttleworth General Manager, The UK Association for Music Education — Music Mark

Sarah Alexander Chief Executive and Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Ian Maclay Managing Director, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Christopher Warren-Green Music Director and Principal Conductor, London Chamber Orchestra

Marianna Hay Artistic Director and Founder, National Orchestra for All

Janie Orr Chief Executive, EMI Music Sound Foundation

Dr Mary Bousted General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Alison Balsom

Kathryn Tickell

Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy

Bob Smith

Roberta Smith

Professor Graham F Welch Chair of Music Education, Institute of Education

Kevin Brennan MP (Lab) Shadow Minister for Schools

Lord Lipsey Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Classical Music

Lord Aberdare Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music Education

Originally published at on November 23, 2014.