Music education

What does music education for everyone look like? And what can Making Music and its members do to make it happen?

To help us answer these questions, we asked our member groups for their views. This report is a result of that consultation. On music education for under-18s, members were concerned that young people now do not have the opportunities they once did, which have enabled them to spend a lifetime enjoying making music, with all the well-researched benefits to their individual well-being and that of their communities. Cost, members felt, was the biggest barrier for under-18s.

Our survey also asked about music education for over-18s, and the biggest issue was identified as confidence, and we have been looking at how to tackle this and other challenges. In September 2019, Making Music hosted a symposium, The shape and future of adult music learning, with key figures in the music sector that focussed on identifying the barriers and needs of adult music learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, and how we can improve their access to active engagement with music.


Campaigning on music education


Making Music has been working closely with the Music Education Partnership Group in Scotland on various initiatives and projects, as well as appearing in front of a number of Scottish Parliament committees and all-party parliamentary groups.

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For under-18s, music subject associations Music Mark and ISM have been championing this cause strongly, and the Music Education Council also convenes seminars on various aspects of this topic. The refreshed National Plan for Music Education, The Power of Music to Change Lives, was published in 2023 and it is hoped it will bring about a closer relationship between leisure-time music and the music hubs covering all areas of England.

However, as there was and is only little being said about the specific challenges for adult learners, Making Music convened a symposium in 2019, followed up by a working group, resulting in our ground-breaking 2020 Adult Music Learning Manifesto.


Following the report by the Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Welsh Language and Communications, Hitting The Right Note, Wales now also has a National Plan for Music Education and has committed additional funding to implement this.

Northern Ireland

A recent audit of music education resulted in a Youth Music Strategy and Five-Year Action Plan, published 2022. Underpinning this strategy will be recognition and financial support from the Stormont Executive – which unfortunately has been in limbo since February 2022.

What you can do

Write to your MP/MSP/AM/MLA, asking them to support free instrumental tuition for all children throughout their school years and why you believe that’s important, perhaps telling them about your experiences as an adult hobby musician.

Download reports into music education, and read our take on their findings and impact on leisure-time music. (Please note the below reports are from 2019.)