Cautious optimism greets the news that education secretary Michael Gove is commissioning a review of music education, centring on the ideal-world scenario that every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and the chance to sing. Classic FM managing director Darren Henley is to head the review. He was also chair of the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group (MMPAG) - until it was quietly liquidated a few weeks ago.
Gove is quoted as saying: 'It’s a sad fact that too many children in state schools are denied the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Evidence suggests that learning an instrument can improve numeracy, literacy and behaviour. But more than that, it is simply unfair that the joy of musical discovery should be the preserve of those whose parents can afford it.'
Henley has been asked to make recommendations for changes to take place from 2012 onwards. Read more of the report from Music Teacher Magazine here.
There's a big animal with tusks in the room, of course, and it is that music teaching and musical instruments cost money. While it's great to see an education secretary actually 'getting' the value of music lessons, we can't help wondering how he proposes to pay for such a scheme, given all the cutbacks - and therefore what the eventual reality will be. If it can happen, brilliant. Meanwhile Mr Henley may have the unenviable task of trying to conjure something out of nothing. Time to bring in Paul Daniels to transform the elephant into some rabbits - and, only then, Paul Daniel to conduct the orchestra.
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
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