Jonathan Savage kindly invited me to respond to a question about the future of a classroom based music education. My response was originally published on Jonathan’s blog (2nd December 2011).
What is the future of school-based music education in the United Kingdom?
It seems difficult to suggest what the future of school-based music might be. Extra-curricular music flourishes in the UK and it is fantastic to hear of the many talented musicians performing recently at the Schools Proms. I would hope that music remains a compulsory component of education for all young people – its advantages and importance are acknowledged throughout education history and to allow it to slip out of the curriculum provision would have a devastating cultural impact. The danger is that music will remain strong in the independent sector and further be associated with the wealthier and elite parts of society. Music is for all and ensuring its survival in all schools will help promote this.
Classroom music teachers need to raise their voices and ensure they too are heard within the plethora of prominent voices in music education. So many initiatives seem to dilute the purpose of music education and we as classroom based educators are not heard as much as we should be. The role of the classroom teacher is essential; we act as the hub for our pupils’ musical endeavours in and out of school, as well as acting as curators for a vast and exciting music history. Through skilful teaching that offers real breadth – and depth – we can show our pupils and colleagues that music is a rigorous subject that develops far more than knowledge in our pupils but their spiritual, cultural and moral appreciation.
I feel incredibly privileged to teach music. I can share my passions and enthusiasms to my pupils and show that there is a great deal to be offered by the exploration of our western and non-western traditions. Music touches our souls, is an expression of our personalities and is a creative outlet for our emotions. Developing engaging activities to give all our pupils musical experiences that will change their lives is the privilege and honour of all music teachers. I hope the future holds continued opportunities for myself and others to keep doing this.