Friday, February 24, 2006

Teach our children to play music

With the enthusiastic celebrations of Mozart's 250th birthday taking place this year, recent reports suggesting that the future of music education in the UK is hanging in the balance are particularly poignant. It seems that a pending decision to turn £26m ($47m) directly over to schools, rather than to local-authority music services, could deny thousands of children the chance to learn a musical instrument.

As a violinist I know that playing a musical instrument can provide an invaluable channel for self-expression. Just as one of the larger functions of artistic endeavour is to challenge societal taboos, art for the individual can provide a means to say the unsayable. And for the countless young people in this country who feel unheard, the acquisition and mastery of such a voice can prove nothing short of a lifeline.

If music-making in this country is to maintain its previously high standards, then money needs to be given where it is needed - towards the promotion of music in schools and free instrumental tuition for all, and to the hard-pressed local-authority music services. Sophisticated artistry is impossible without the requisite sophistication of skills. The nourishment and future development of our children matters - it is not just at lunchtimes that our children deserve better quality.

Freelance violinist Philippa Ibbotson in today's Guardian - hear, hear!

Image credit - St Francis Music Center
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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Death of the library

1 comment:

Berend de Boer said...

I suggest a tax cut so every interested parent can afford to give his kid the music lessons they desire. In the end it's not the state that will, and should, be responsible for high standards, but free citiziens.

Making the state responsible for high standards in music might lead to high standards, just like the former Soviet Union certainly had high performing atletes. As had other communist countries.

But that's the dead of a free society. If individuals, parents, are no longer interested, music is essentially dead, although the state may keep it alive as long as they can force their taxpayers to fork over money and force kids to play music.

If parents are no longer responsible for their children, society has taken a turn for the very worst. And if parents are no longer expected to take responsibility for the education of their society, we are at the cross roads to darkness.