1.Research shows, music is fundamental to the development of language, social and emotional skills, communication and brain development.
2. Music numbers are declining at Key Stages 4 and 5, where it is an optional subject that students can select.
3. The Government is funding musical enterprises to encourage musical engagements, including Music Hubs across the country.
4. Music is for every student and all students should have the opportunity to engage with music at school.
Want to find out more?
Join the conversation:
The Independent society of Musicians
Musicians union https://musiciansunion.org.uk
Interested in research:
Why We Must Include Music in Education? (Khan: 2022)
Research Review Series: Music (OFSTED: 2022):
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TeacherTalk: The Power of Music
Welcome to our educational blog. Here we explore all things pertinent to education, discuss current topics and provide tips, from research and educational experts, to aid practice.
We’ve all been there - sat in a mundane waiting room as the opening notes begin to play of an all familiar melody, catapulting us into a memory, a feeling, a mood. Music provokes emotions, inspires movement and evokes our very senses- But in a world where musical education is becoming less frequent, ask yourself - is music important in education? Does it aid our students like more so-called ‘academic’ topics do? How and why should students study it?
Music feeds our very souls and unites communities - So why then have numbers declined (OFSTED: Research Review Series, 2022) at both Key Stages 4 and 5, when students decide if they wish to study music?
Research shows that listening to and engaging in music has a key impact upon our brain development, from language development to social and emotional communication, collaboration and motor skills, music aids them all (The Education Hub: 2022).
The Ed Tech Review in 2022, stated that ‘Children exposed to music, particularly as children, have a profound impact on their cerebral cortex region. In reality, music creates neural pathways in the brain, allowing them to understand the world and language’. Research (Shah:2022) has shown correlations between studying music and:
- Stimulates brain activity in children
- Reduces stress
- Improves comprehension skills
- Aids language development
- Teaches time management and discipline
- Enhances problem-solving skills
- Promotes creative thinking
- Develops team-work and leadership skills
- Refines co-ordination and motor skills.
Music in Schools: The Curriculum
The curriculum within musical education, requires students to study the three pillars of music:
- Technical ability: Instrumental playing, singing or music technology.
- Constructive music ability: knowledge of both analytical and creative musical components.
- Expressive musicality: The quality, meaning and creativity of a musician.
OFSTED: Research Review, Music: 2022
Behind sport, music is now the second highest funded topic for ages 1-14 in education, Key stages 1-3. (GCSE (Key stage 4 and above) and higher education is an option, depending upon the educational provision). Since 2016, the government has funded music provision, creating Music Hubs to ensure that ‘all children have access to these opportunities to ensure that music education is not reserved for the privileged few’ (The Education Hub: 2022).
Like Maths and English, for Music there are statutory requirements of the curriculum that school’s should follow. In short, Music lessons, across all key stages, should be planned, sequenced and varied to provide students with the opportunity to: listen; play, write and collaborate across a range of genres, artists and styles.
But… like many areas of the curriculum, the time allocated to study music is a challenge within every school. Coupled with the need for expert knowledge teachers to lead music, resources and opportunities for students to have instrumental lessons, studying music and installing a love of music, can be a challenge.
A successful school and educational institution will create a wider culture for music from additional clubs, lessons and opportunities for enrichment like musical productions, plays or concerts. Of course, in smaller educational contexts where there is only one teacher, this adds to the time constraints and pressure upon that individual expert.
Music in Education, from a HOD
We spoke to Mr Wakeley, SKE for Chiltern Learning Trust and Head of Music at Putteridge High School.
What is being said about the importance of Music in education? I asked this question in ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that creates responses using machine learning considering current trends in online activity.
‘Music education is a crucial component of a well-rounded education. Music has the power to inspire, engage, and enrich students' lives in countless ways. Studies have shown that children who participate in music education programs perform better academically, have better social skills, and are more likely to graduate from high school. Music education helps students develop cognitive skills such as memory, attention, and problem-solving, as well as emotional skills such as empathy, self-expression, and creativity.
Music education programs also provide students with opportunities to develop important life skills such as teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. Learning to play an instrument or sing in a choir requires dedication and practice, which instils a sense of responsibility and commitment in students. Music education programs also provide a safe and positive environment for students to express themselves and build self-confidence.
Additionally, music education provides students with exposure to different cultures and traditions. Learning about music from around the world helps students develop an appreciation for diversity and broadens their understanding of the world. Music education programs also provide opportunities for students to participate in community events and performances, which helps build a sense of belonging and pride in their school and community.
In conclusion, music education is an important part of a well-rounded education. It provides students with numerous benefits, including improved academic performance, enhanced cognitive and emotional skills, and opportunities for personal growth and development. Music education programs should be supported and valued by schools and communities alike.’
As I watched the coverage of the coronation, I wondered how different it would have been without any of the music.
We have an enviable tradition of producing the some of the finest musicians in the world. From pop to classical and jazz to folk, the UK has been world leading for decades.
Unfortunately, the decline in the numbers of children learning to play musical instruments and to sing, is having a major impact on the quality and quantity of musicians entering the profession. Funding issues and curriculum pressures, along with changing attitudes need to be addressed if we are to retain our leading position in the music industry.
Imagine a pyramid - to have the people at the top who can turn out such fantastic performances, you need the layers beneath it, and that requires musical education in schools. As educationalists, we need to ask ourselves what we can do to get music back on track. Without significant numbers of children engaging fully with music from an early age, we will not have our symphony orchestras, military bands, musical theatre singers and orchestras, pop stars and jazz musicians.
So what can we do?
The Government has created Music Hubs, scattered around the UK to ensure every child has the opportunity to experience, engage and join in all types of musical avenues.
At stated by the Arts Council Englland 'A Music Education Hub is a partnership, led by a Hub Lead Organisation, that is responsible for supporting, delivering and enabling access to music education activity for children and young people within a local area.
Partnerships can include schools, early years and other education providers, local authorities, community music organisations and other regional and national youth music organisations and industry. Hub Lead Organisations and their Hub partners understand and respond to local context to support the needs and interests of all children and young people.' (2023)
Let's utilise every resource available to build and create musicians of the future.
CTSH 'Together towards excellence'