Anyone who watched the Channel 4 documentary Don’t Stop the Music last week (the second instalment screens tonight) could be forgiven for thinking our music education system had fallen apart. We were presented with a school that couldn’t manage to find two sides of a triangle in its cupboards and a head teacher who saw no value in music “because it isn’t taken into account when the Ofsted inspectors turn up”.
So it was a relief to read a more balanced view in Making Music, the report published yesterday by ABRSM (the Royal Schools of Music exam board). It claims to be “the most comprehensive survey of the learning, progression and teaching of musical instruments ever undertaken in the UK”.
Apparently, it says, there is “much to celebrate”, and times are certainly rosier than in 2003 when, together with James Galway and Evelyn Glennie – the other members of our newly formed Music Education Consortium – I marched in to see Charles Clarke, the then education secretary. Music education in the UK had reached its nadir and we were there to demand improvements.
To his credit, Clarke acknowledged the problem and sent his rookie schools minister, David Miliband, on a mission to find a solution. The result was Labour’s much-trumpeted Music Manifesto: a symphony of bravado which was notably muted about how it could be delivered.
Read more on the Telegraph website