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Children and young people should receive the best possible Music Education

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Darren Henley

Managing Director of Classic FM

Darren Henley, author of the Music Education in England review on the importance of Music Education.

Over the past eighteen years of working at Classic FM, I’ve been lucky enough to see how much great Music can change people’s lives in a positive way.
When I first became Chairman of the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy group in 2007, I learned much more about the passion and dedication of many of the individuals who work in Music Education. So, I was delighted to be asked by Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey to undertake a review into the funding and delivery of Music Education for the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
image of child playing pianoI was really heartened by the huge response to the review from parents, teachers, Music Education providers, arts organisations and community groups. It meant that there was a good deal of reading and sifting for me to do, but it gave me a very valuable insight into exactly what each different set of people involved in all aspects of Music Education were thinking.
Ultimately, I made 36 separate recommendations as part of my Review, to which the government has now responded very positively. There are some key themes that run through the full text of my Review, which include the need for greater partnership between all of the various organisations involved in music and the importance of Music Education inside and outside of the classroom.
From the very start of this process, I set out with the aim that the Review’s outcomes should ensure that children and young people in England received the best possible Music Education. I’m utterly convinced that music is really beneficial part of children’s lives. We all need to make sure the Music Education they receive should help them to become both musically literate and music lovers. And, that whatever their age or ability, the quality of that education should be of the highest possible standard, enabling them to achieve their full musical potential.
The musical skills that children learn in and out of the classroom stand them in good stead later on in life, when it comes to helping make sure that the UK’s creative industries continue to grow internationally, bringing economic benefits for the country as a whole.
We shouldn’t forget the teachers and musicians here either – it’s really vital that they feel that the Music Education system we have in England allows them to develop as professionals, so that the people working in this area continue to feel fulfilled by what they do.

A National Music Plan

One of my major recommendations involves the development of the first National Music Plan for England. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Department for Education, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England take this forward over the next few months, in consultation with everyone involved in Music Education. There’s a very real chance that this could help position England’s Music Education system as the best in the world – and that would be an exciting proposition.
As a development of my Music Education Review, Ed Vaizey has asked me to take a look at wider Cultural Education, which will mean more fascinating conversations and reading over the coming months. There has been a very positive response to the Music Education Review from people working in the sector and I’m now looking forward to engaging with educators from the worlds of Dance, Design, Drama, Film, the Visual Arts, Museums, the Built Environment and Heritage.

Further information

  • Government pledges to tackle ‘musical divide’ (7 February 2011)

  • Review of music education announced (24 September 2010)

  • Photo by courosa on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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