So what does a high-quality music education look like?

We’ve been working on it for 10 years and think we have a lot of the answers

These are tough times for music in our schools.  The perfect storm of ever tightening whole-school accountabilities and the dire consequences of failing to meet them, combined increasing concerns around budgets has forced many schools, usually most reluctantly, to decrease the time allocated to music in the curriculum and their investment in it.

And yet, as we believe most school leaders would willingly agree, music has so much to offer – to the individual, to their families and to the school and to its position in the community.

From an organisational perspective, we know that music makes a positive contribution to a school’s brand and reputation.

It is the impact of music on the development of the individual pupil that, although anecdotally acknowledged, is perhaps less well understood.

The Power of Music, Professor Susan Hallam’s research synthesis on the impact of music on children’s development, published in 2015, sets out evidence of the impact of active engagement in music on children’s personal, social and academic development.

There is accruing evidence which indicates that actively making music can contribute to the enhancement of a range of non-musical skills and lead to other beneficial outcomes.

While further research remains to be done, there is much in this report that suggests that schools investing in music are making a wise investment in school improvement.  This has recently been reinforced through the story of Feversham Primary School in Bradford reported in the Guardian under the headline “How to improve the school results: not extra maths but music, loads of it”

But before schools rush off and hurriedly start spending money on music programmes and alike, it is worth returning to Professor Hallam’s report and some of the reflections and recommendations is contains.

The research undertaken to date suggests that:

  • active engagement with making music should start early for the greatest benefits to be realised;
  • engagement needs to be sustained over a long period of time to maximise the benefits;
  • the activities need to include group work;
  • opportunities need to be available for performance;
  • the quality of teaching needs to be high;
  • the curriculum needs to be broadly based including activities related to pitch and rhythm, singing, instrumental work, composition and improvisation, and the reading of notation;
  • to have a positive impact on disaffected and at-risk young people, the musical activities need to be in a genre with which they can relate.

These finding have driven much of London Music Master’s work in schools – particularly the requirement for making music to start early, the need for a long-term commitment and the importance of high quality teaching.

LMM Learning’s Musicianship programme provides a secure and affordable option through which schools can reignite their involvement in music.  A true investment in school improvement.

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