It has long been held that in the state sector, a good music education is becoming harder to obtain. The big question is how to address this. With fewer pupils than ever taking Music A Level in a state education system, teachers and musicians are looking to redress this balance.
Perhaps one way of looking at it is to compare music to maths. In primary schools, maths is of course regarded as a core subject. But imagine if maths had to be fitted into a 20 minute session over lunchtime. Or that in fact Maths was only taught on a rota once a month and that lessons were given by an external provider.
In such circumstances would it be realistic to expect the whole class to have a basic grasp of addition and subtraction. Quite possibly one or two pupils might be identified as gifted but everyone else would feel a failure and consequently would be unlikely to choose maths as a subject to take any futher.
In the majority of schools we have worked in, there is generally a teacher who is regarded as the music lead, or in some cases a specialist music teacher. This of course comes as no great surprise as we will have most likely been booked to record by said teacher. And also let’s face it, if you are offering a music based fundraising activity then you will be approached by schools with a particular interest in music.
Over the past 20 years, touring the country with Recordings 4 Schools, we have seen first hand some amazing music going on in Primary schools. We have encountered a number of pupils with grade 8 on a chosen instrument and we have heard some fantastic choirs. This is all extremely encouraging, but sadly it is very much the minority.
Of course there is always 2 sides to every story, and to put all this into context, the reality is that music is never going to be regarded as more important or indeed equally important compared to core subjects such as maths and English.
For us, music in primary schools will always continue to be an important element to our business. But this can only continue if music is embraced as important in KS1 and KS2.