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The Power of Music Education Programs in Schools

The importance of music in our society needs no explanation. It is a universal language used for well-being, community, creativity and, more importantly, education. The music industry contributed £4 billion to the UK economy in 2021 and is empowering students of all levels to become more motivated and confident learners. 

Music education gives students a lifelong advantage and offers them benefits ranging from uncovering hidden passions and social development to academic achievements. Due to these merits, a new emphasis has been placed on music programs in schools in England as part of the refreshed National Plan for Music Education (NPME)

This article aims to discuss the benefits of musical educational programs in schools and how they impact student development.

Why music education is more vital than we may realise? 

The power of music is more far-reaching than originally realised but music curriculums around the UK are under threat. 

The Ofsted 2023 Report on Music Education outlined a shocking reality for many institutions: “Many school leaders reported that in the last few years they had decided to reduce the extent to which they were subsidising instrumental lessons, because of wider pressures on school budgets. Others had stopped providing instrumental and vocal lessons.” 

Music education - a pupil learning the saxophone
Teen student is playing the saxophone in her school music lesson. Credit: iStock.com

Even more shocking is that approximately half the primary schools visited did not currently offer any instrumental or vocal lessons.

Learning about music and having the opportunity play is a critical part of a rich and rounded education. Outside of nurturing creativity and emotional intelligence, music is influential in many aspects, including: 

Cognitive Development

Having the opportunity to play a musical instrument is critical in developing language, motor skills, enhanced memorisation and collaboration skills – especially when started early. 

Academic Achievement

Research demonstrates that young people playing a musical instrument showed better academic outcomes and progress than those not playing. 

Emotional Wellbeing

Music provides a unique outlet for self-expression and creativity, fostering a positive emotional environment within schools. 

Social Skills and Teamwork 

Musical education often involves collaborative experiences that contribute to the development of essential social and teamwork skills. 

What is the government’s plans? 

The NPME lays out a vision that enables all children and young people to learn to sing, play an instrument and create music together, whilst also having the opportunity to progress their musical interests professionally. 

This ensures that children in key stages 1 to 3 have at least one hour of classroom music teaching, with options to join your school choir, vocal group or ensemble. This is alongside opportunities to take music qualifications in secondary school. 

It also outlines how schools should support interests in music education outside of their curriculums, whether that means going to live concerts to listen to live music by your local community or performing outside of school. 

What can young people get involved in outside of school?

There are currently 120 Music Education Hubs (MEHs) in the UK that are designed to support the musical aspirations and education of young people. These are supported by £75 million of central government funding to ensure that every child aged 5-18 has the chance to sing, learn a musical instrument, and take part in rewarding music experiences. 

Some hubs have a budget set aside for commissioning work and have a company of teachers from the music industry who deliver all manner of learning services to community groups, art organisations and schools. 

What can you do as a Music Educator? 

Keeping students engaged is your responsibility as a music educator. Utilising these tools and methods will have you on your way to becoming an invaluable advocate for music education: 

Ensure a diverse musical offering

Offering a variety of instruments is a good way to keep your students pursuing music education and teach diversity of creativity. 

If you’re fortunate enough to be able offer lessons for larger instruments such as the cello, investing in cello insurance will help protect your investment for other students to enjoy for years to come. The same applies to any other instruments in your collection. 

Share your success on social media

Utilise social media or school communications to promote any classroom accomplishment. This provides hard evidence of how musical programs have impacted your students and the real-life benefits. Getting your students’ families involved will help influence advocacy in your wider community. 

Familiarise yourself with local education funding

Make sure you get up to date with the policies related to music education that will affect your institution. It’s also recommended that schools cultivate relationships with local government policymakers to keep the best interests of their students at the forefront of decision-making.

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