Music education needs to be fought for – let’s not allow it to slip away

A former director of music at a south London school argues for music education in a powerful article published in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) online.

Philip Viveash refers to the sustained cuts to school budgets, a burgeoning teacher recruitment crisis, and the fact that Music, along with all arts subjects in England, has been excluded from the government’s EBacc measurement of GCSEs and from the Russell Group of Universities’ list of facilitating subjects. A fast-growing number of schools are removing music entirely from the curriculum.

He says that, like drama and sport, music is an iceberg subject; the relatively small numbers involved with the academic study of the subject, exist in combination with large numbers involved in music outside of the classroom, whether that’s in instrumental, singing or theory lessons, or singing or playing in the school ensembles, and describes its power and impact:

“”Music connects us to our deepest and most profound emotions. It gives a voice to what we truly feel, regardless of whether we can find the words to express it or not. It touches us deeply and profoundly. That’s why it matters to all of us so much.”

“This is why we study and teach music – not because it will improve academic performance, enable young people to make friends, look good on UCAS applications, provide wonderful opportunities to perform and places to visit, enable them to perform and make music all their lives, or teach discipline and dedication (although, of course, it will do all of those things). We want our students to be enriched and encouraged by music. We want them to have more resilience, more dedication, more discipline, more love, more compassion, more gentleness…in short, a richer and happier life.”

He concludes: Education should be about kindling a thirst for knowledge – children discovering who they are, what brings them joy and what does not, how to work, how to learn and how to think. Music is an essential part of that discovery. Let’s not allow music education to slip away.


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