In September 2019 and again in January 2020, Making Music brought together individuals from across the music sector to focus on adult music learning.
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 members 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 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.
What is Making Music doing about this?
We supported a petition to Westminster asking for free instrumental tuition for all children in school, which gained nearly 30,000 signatures.
This followed the success earlier in 2018 of a similar petition in Scotland. The Scottish petition was set up by trombonist and lawyer by day Ralph Riddiough. Ralph, Making Music’s manager in Scotland Alison Reeves, and professional trumpet-player Mick Cooke gave evidence to the Scottish Parliment Petitions Committee.
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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.
Responses on music education hubs in the 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 will help us shape our submission to the consultation on the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) which is now up for review.
Leisure-time trombonist Ralph Riddiough's petition 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. The petition generated useful momentum and work is being 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 has lodged a formal complaint with the Scottish Government under the Education Scotland Act, and is seeking to explore a potential judicial review.
Making Music has fed into the Education and Skills Committee inquiry report A note of concern: The future of instrumental music tuition in schools. However some local authorities have already announced cuts to funding - read our statement on this. If you are a Making Music member and would like us to connect with a campaign in your area, please get in touch. One of the report's bold conclusions is that ‘the Committee believes in principle that music tuition should be provided free of charge in every local authority.’ The other significant and influential report, What’s Going on Now, is a follow up to a 2003 snapshot of music education and youth music initiatives.
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).