Music deprivation is abuse

I’m deeply concerned to hear that many Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from music lessons. I appreciate that there is a centuries-old association in some cultures of linking music with licentious behaviour, but it seems no argument is being marshalled against this notion.

Music is not merely a sensually pleasurable experience (though I’m the first to admit that it can be that too). It is also a serious artform and mode of expression through which sublime thought and feeling are transmitted. In other words, while on the one hand you have ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Virgin’ and ‘Vindaloo’, on the other you have Mahler’s Eighth Symphony or Schubert’s ‘An die Musik’ (“O heil’ge Kunst” – Oh holy art).

There is an exact parallel here between the functions of music and the spoken and written word.  Language can be used to bawl obscenities, lie, seduce an innocent or commit fraud. It can also be used to draw up laws, comfort someone in anguish, maintain the narrative of history or explain how to cure someone of cancer. No parent, Muslim or otherwise, would deprive their child of learning to read, write or speak, just in case they learned how to swear or how to write scam emails.

On the same grounds, no parent should deprive their child of learning music. We need to stand up and make the argument for music as a serious and important study, as an aid to educational achievement and as a necessary contributor to the development of the human mind. Above all, music can take us further than language can go, and where nobody should be forbidden to travel.

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 08:38  Comments (1)  

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  1. Living where I do I teach children from every conceivable background and faith. Apparently as many as 10% of Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from school music lessons which is both disgraceful and illegal. Music is part of the National Curriculum and exemptions are NOT ALLOWED.

    I have 2 private pupils from Muslim homes and they are delightful with very supportive parents but I’m afraid that the minority extremists are once again being pandered to and allowed to manipulate our multi-cultural society for their own ends. Until we say a resounding NO to some of these people and stand up for what we believe in more children will be refused the right to a well-rounded education and all the richness that goes with it

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