We will all have heard by now that the Department for Education has published a consultation recommending that local authorities stop their funding for local music services and hubs.
Let’s step back and consider this for a moment.
The Government’s own visionary National Plan for Music Education states:
‘The vast majority of this will be invested in hubs that will also supplement and draw-in local and national funding for music - from local authorities, cultural organisations, businesses, trusts, foundations and philanthropists.’
And in the foreword in that National Plan, they recognised that:
‘We would not have scaled the heights of artistic greatness in the first place without our pre-eminence in music education’.
Why would the Department for Education undermine its own National Plan?
The value of music is something that we should not need to keep repeating: the educational value, economic impact and – perhaps most importantly – musical value is well researched. Professor Sue Hallam of the Institute of Education conducted a literature review titled The Power of Music, which does not only demonstrates the intrinsic value of music as music, but also sets out how this musical value can help engage pupils and have additional benefits in numeracy, literacy, social engagement, emotional intelligence and health. Music education is not limited to pupils either, The Power of Music also talks about benefits of life-long learning.
It is academic; a challenging, creative, technical, vocational, practical and intellectual subject. It is a discipline to be found in every culture. There is a wealth of modern literature that has been published proving the value of a high quality music education.
With this in mind, it would then seem thoughtless if not completely short-sighted to deny this holistic subject to future generations. By tampering with the delicate ecology of music education there could be unintended consequences such as undermining progression routes through to both university and conservatoire and an adverse impact on the creation of generation of musicians.
The potential damaging effects that these cuts could have on the creative industries has not been considered. The creative industries are worth £36.3 billion a year to the UK and the music industry is worth over £3.5 billion. The impact on the economy would be detrimental and potentially irreversible.