International music examinations board ABRSM has published Instrumental Music Teaching During Lockdown, reporting the findings of an investigation involving 300 instrumental music teachers who detailed the impact that the current Covid-19-related lockdown is having on their work.
Better understanding of the value of music lessons
ABRSM found that 87% of the teachers surveyed have been able to effectively adapt to online teaching with 39% reporting that their learners have made better progress than normal. Many teachers also reported an improved relationship with parents who have developed a better understanding of the value of music lessons and are now better able to support learners when they are practising their instrument.
However, both teachers and learners have encountered barriers which have limited the effectiveness of online music lessons, including intermittent internet access and the poor quality of audio from video conferencing software. Some learners are also struggling because they may not have access to their instrument or a quiet place in which to have their lesson undisturbed.
Informed by the report’s findings, ABRSM has made a number of recommendations, including:
- Improving the broadband infrastructure everywhere as promised in the 2020 budget
- Expanding access to devices and 4G internet to disadvantaged learners from all year groups who need it until schools can reopen
- Government to encourage schools to re-establish all creative arts classes, including extra-curricular activities such as instrumental lessons as soon as it is safe to do so, ensuring learners do not lose out
- Further research to identify best practice in the use of technology in music education and to embed this into the next National Plan for Music Education
This paper was submitted to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for consideration on 27 May 2020 in response to their inquiries into the impact of COVID-19.
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