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Youth Music calls on government to allow children to study music they actually like

By | Published on Thursday 23 May 2019

Youth Music

Music charity Youth Music has called on the UK government to instigate an “urgent transformation” to music education in schools “to shake up the way [the subject] is perceived and taught”.

The charity, which earlier this year said that music educators needed a much wider definition of music making, has now published a report with Birmingham City University. The university’s researchers monitored the progress of Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes programme, which saw the organisation invest in ten partnerships between community music organisations and school music departments.

The research found that children’s experience of music at school is “often disconnected from their musical lives” outside the lessons. In a large part this is because they are taught in a way that does not connect with the music they’re actually interested in. The projects supported as part of the Exchanging Notes programme gave students the autonomy to decide the type of music they would study.

Off the back of this, Youth Music CEO Matt Griffiths has now written an open letter to Education Minister Nick Gibb, and also the panel who are putting together a new (optional) model curriculum for teaching music, calling for changes to the current curriculum.

“Through effective partnership working between the schools and charities, young people participated in a music curriculum which reflected their diverse interests and existing lives in music”, writes Griffiths. “This contributed to their personal development and emotional well-being as a result of regular music-making. An important factor was that the type of music explored in the curriculum wasn’t imposed on them – it was instead decided and delivered with them. We urge you and the panel to take these research findings into consideration as you put together a model music curriculum”.

He goes on: “Exchanging Notes tells us that this ‘model’ has at its core a creative, participatory and social approach to music that gives young people the opportunity to shape their own curriculum – driven by the music they are passionate about. By re-imagining the music curriculum in this way and scaling up the findings of Exchanging Notes across the country, music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education across all subjects, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning”.

Download the full Exchanging Notes report and read Griffiths’ open letter here.