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Music helps children to concentrate, to develop the social skills of teamwork and communication. It improves co-ordination and self-confidence. We know that there is a strong link between the ability to tackle musical and mathmatical problems, that musical literacy helps with the reading and comprehension of languages.

In recent years it has been recognised by the inclusion of music as a compulsory subject in the national curriculum up to the age of 14. This was made ineffectual by the removal of instrumental tuition without extra charge, but at least there was a commitment that music would always be a part of classroom life. Now it has been announced that Britain is to eject music from primary schools. Teachers will only have to ‘have regard’ for music for children up to the age of 11, they will not have to teach it.

Already we know that the withdrawel of free instrumental lessons is having a damaging and socially divisive effect. A recent report has found that the proportion of children learning instruments has dropped by 4% in 3 years. The decline is fastest among 5 to 10 year olds, boys and those from families with poor economic prospects. Far from widening access, ministers are making music a luxury.

The arguments for music at early school are compelling. Britain and America increasingly rely on their creative industries for self-image and export success. We will not have a viable pop misic indistry if musical opportunity is limited. Our diplomats constantly present musical achievement as a prime example of our social and economic vitality. Above all, children have the right to be taught the potential of sound as well as figures and words.

Based on an article in BBC Music Magazine

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