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.
In September 2019 and again in January 2020, Making Music brought together individuals from across the music sector to focus on adult music learning, and produced a manifesto on adult music education.
Campaigning on music education
Lawyer and leisure-time trombonist Ralph Riddiough set up a petition, supported by Making Music, calling for free instrumental tuition for children in Scottish schools that collected enough signatures to be given a session on 13 September 2018 with the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee. Watch the session on the Scottish Parliament TV channel at which Ralph, Making Music’s manager in Scotland Alison Reeves, and professional trumpet-player Mick Cooke gave evidence. The petition also generated useful momentum and work was carried forward by the Music Education Parliamentary Group.
In 2019 Ralph also launched #ChangeTheTune campaign to clarify the lawfulness of fees for musical instrument tuition in Scottish state schools. The campaign lodged a formal complaint with the Scottish Government under the Education Scotland Act, and sought to explore a potential judicial review. Making Music also drafted this letter, which was co-signed by various organisations and then published.
Making Music also fed evidence into the Education and Skills Committee inquiry report A note of concern: The future of instrumental music tuition in schools. However some local authorities announced cuts to funding - read our statement on this. One of the report's bold conclusions was that ‘the Committee believes in principle that music tuition should be provided free of charge in every local authority.’ Another significant and influential report, What’s Going on Now, was published in 2019, a follow up to a 2003 study of music education in Scotland commissioned by the Music Education Partnership Group. Researchers found evidence that the increased prevalence of charging for music lessons had accelerated a widening equity gap.
Outcomes in Scotland
In May 2021, all of the parties who have MSPs in parliament made similar promises in their manifestos, providing a consensus that free instrumental music tuition in schools must now happen within the next five years.
As of July 2021, the Scottish government announced that they are making good on their election promise and removing fees for children learning a musical instrument at school. The agreement is only for the coming academic year and is in the form of a funding package to councils.
Check back on this page, and our news section, for updates
Responses on music education hubs in our member survey show there is currently little engagement between these providers and adult community music groups in their areas. We will be looking to facilitate conversations and collaborations in future.
Furthermore, our report has helped us shape our submission to the consultation on the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) which is now up for review.
We supported a petition to Westminster asking for free instrumental tuition for all children in school, which gained nearly 30,000 signatures.
The report by the Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Welsh Language and Communications, Hitting The Right Note, calls for recommendations, and was debated in the Senedd on 24 October 2018. Making Music submitted its response to the Committee and to various ministers ahead of the debate, which our manager in Wales, Iori Haugen, attended. Various actions are being taken forward as a result of the report, most immediately some additional funding for instruments. Wales is now considering a National Music Education Plan (England has had one since 2011).