Everyone at MusicMaps is utterly and totally passionate about music education. It’s hard not to be. We all have great memories from our childhoods mucking about with a guitar, or singing in a choir, or writing songs. You just want to pass it on and share music with as many children as possible. MusicMaps was founded on that principle: music for everyone, everywhere. But that vision is not a straightforward one to enact. Of course, all over the country there are countless teachers and education professionals working hard to bring music to young people, but the educational landscape doesn’t always favour best practice in music teaching.
There are obvious obstacles like funding and access and, in my view, less obvious obstacles like the lack of focus on co-ordination, service and progression. There’s a lot of chatter over the now abandoned plan to build a brand new concert hall in London, as promoted by none other than the great Sir Simon Rattle. A common objection was all that money could have been redeployed to reverse the rapidly declining participation rates of children in music between the ages of five to ten. That whole argument can be consigned to history – there’s no concert hall and there’s no money for music education, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be any new money for music education for a long time to come.
So where do we go from here? Well that’s a big question with many answers. MusicMaps is one answer – we provide affordable music education to hundreds of families across London. That’s all about doing something right now. But we also need to think deeply about how music education is delivered and received. The better understanding we have, the more likely that music can be a truly universal experience for all young children everywhere. For this reason, MusicMaps spent the whole of last year interviewing teachers, children and parents about their own experiences of music education. It is a rigourous, qualitative study, designed to give the reader maximum insight into how music education really works at the day-to-day level. Yes, it’s just a start. No, it doesn’t end here.
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