UK survey of musical instrument learning


A comprehensive UK survey of musical instrument learning has found that while more children than ever are playing, many still have no access and children from lower social groups remain disadvantaged.

The survey by the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), builds on three similar programmes of research conducted between 1993 and 1999, involving many of the foremost organisations in UK music education, from Ofsted and Arts Council England to Youth Music and Trinity College London.
The findings also point to the fact that 15% of all children under the age of 17 have never had an instrumental lesson in the classroom or individually.

The report also shows an uneven social and geographical picture in terms of access, provision and progression.

Despite concentrated investment in providing primary school children the opportunity to try instruments through whole class ensembles, only a small minority of young people go on to learn through formal music education progression routes. Those who do are significantly more likely to be from more affluent social backgrounds, with children from lower socio-economic groups significantly disadvantaged.

Yet the sheer number of young people making music in alternative settings suggests a huge enthusiasm to play instruments – and that the formal routes and experiences they are offered through formal music teaching provision sometimes fall short.

Lincoln Abbotts, Director of Strategic Development at ABRSM, said: "We must continue to collaborate to improve progression routes in musical learning and coordination among schools, private teachers, music services, community music and national organisations. Together we should explore the implications of the report’s findings and continue to champion the role of music and music specialists in schools, so that leaders can truly understand the positive impact they make.

"We must help policy makers target and align funding to support disadvantaged learners and address regional imbalances."

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