The devastation of instrumental learning

I’ve just heard something incredibly depressing. I will anonymise the details as I think it may a be picture which is replicated elsewhere.

Imagine a medium-sized town in a shire county with four main secondary schools.

Not one of these schools has a school band or orchestra.

In one of the schools, there used to be 150 children learning an instrument. Now there are 30. Thirty.

Just in case you are too shocked to work it out, that’s twenty per cent of the previous numbers.

In the town itself, there is only one community music ensemble currently running. Only five young people under the age of 18 are taking part in it.

The next time a politician decides to churn out a statistic on how many children are learning a musical instrument, I invite you to ask them the following:

  • have they just had one term’s tuition on the ukulele, with no follow-up and nowhere to go after that?
  • does their school have an orchestra or band that they can play in, and do they play in it?
  • has their town got a band or orchestra or other music group they can play in, and do they play in it?
  • has the number of children having regular instrumental lessons in school remained steady?

If the answer to any of this is no, then you have something more like the real picture. If anyone tries to sell you the idea that music instrumental teaching is not in crisis, I invite you to use this as an example. If any politicians tells you that the arts and creative industries are the jewel in the UK’s crown, I invite you to ask them why they are trampling it underfoot.

Published in: on May 14, 2013 at 14:52  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. And apparently things aren’t much better for school cricket.

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