Four of the UK’s main access-to-music organisations – Creative United, OHMI, Drake Music and OpenUp Music – have come together to address the crisis in music education and make musical instruments more widely available to aspiring young musicians – particularly to disabled people who may find playing a conventional musical instrument difficult or impossible.
As the article on the Music:Ed website reports, average wages and disposable incomes in the UK have remained stagnant in recent years, meaning young people are being increasingly priced out of, or for disabled people, not included in, music education. Recent figures from the Incorporated Society of Musicians show that the average hourly cost of private tuition is now £31 across the UK, or £40 in central London. Including the instrument itself, that means the cost of fully learning an instrument can be around £30-40,000.
The cost of inventing and building new instruments and accessible musical technology to take away disabling barriers can cost as little as a few hundred pounds, or upwards of £10,000, depending on what the musician wants and needs. For example, a flute adapted so it can be played with one hand can cost around £5,000, and a saxophone around £15,000.
With statutory music education now absent from the national curriculum in England beyond Key Stage 3, the opportunities for young people to discover and develop as musicians are increasingly scarce, with government data showing that the number of teenagers participating in music in England is now at its lowest ever level.
Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.