Key issues affecting music education highlighted by MU

Senior Musicians’ Union officials have spoken of key issues affecting music education across the UK both in Westminster and at the Trades Union Congress Conference.

On Monday 10 September 2018, General Secretary, Horace Trubridge, addressed the TUC in Manchester on the crisis in music education.

This was followed on Wednesday 12 September 2018 by a roundtable in the Houses of Parliament entitled What next for music education in England? This provided an overview of existing music education provision and brought together parliamentarians, music educationalists and leading experts from the sector to discuss what is needed in the next National Plan for Music Education.

Roundtable contributors

Chaired by Thangam Debbonaire MP on behalf of the Performers’ Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group, the roundtable benefitted from contributions by the following:

  • Tracy Brabin MP, Shadow Minister for Education
  • Baroness Jane Bonham Carter
  • Hannah Fouracre, Director of Music Education, Arts Council England
  • Oliver Morris, Director of Education & Skills, UK Music

Key issues affecting music education

At both events, key issues affecting music education were highlighted as:

  • a decline in diversity of those being able to study music and enter the musical profession
  • the need for music education for all

Speaking at the TUC Conference, Horace Trubridge said:

‘The UK music industry is worth £4.5 billion to the economy and its product is the soundtrack of our lives. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and it is a vital contributor to tourism in the UK and has massive export value.

‘One of the reasons that the UK has such a fantastic reputation for great music is because we have traditionally produced a rich, edgy and diverse spectrum of music. But like any industry, changes way down in the supply chain can eventually have profound effects on the overall health of the business.

‘Will we be able to maintain and build on our international standing for music if the musicians of tomorrow come exclusively from a very narrow socio-economic background? The opportunity to learn a musical instrument should be available to all children in the UK and not just those whose parents can afford to pay for it.’

Diane Widdison, MU National Organiser for Education & Training, said:

‘We had an in-depth and very useful debate, which focussed on what is happening across music education with specialists from the sector along with politicians, representatives from Arts Council England and a number of organisations with whom we work closely.

‘Preliminary findings from our research were shared along with positive and proactive ideas as to what the next National Plan for Music Education should include. A paper will follow from the meeting to be submitted to the Department for Education for consideration.’

Header photo: Horace Trubridge © Musicians’ Union

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