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Life should mean life

2 months ago

Amanda Parker

Head of Communications for ABRSM

The recent Sutton Report on life skills makes clear the value of music learning in acquiring invaluable life skills including resilience, confidence, social skills and motivation.

It’s great to have wider insight into what we know and feel: that music learning is not ever just about the notes, the performance, or even the musicianship – it’s also about what it leaves you, and what you take from it through to adult life. It would be fascinating to know how many global business leaders have learned an instrument, or played in ensembles: whether it’s through playing in a junior orchestra or forming a band in secondary school. The experience gained in playing together is the same stuff that fuels great leadership: team-working, improving performance, and knowing how to get the best from individuals and what each individual can offer.

There’s huge pressure on schools to deliver the curriculum requirements, and in some instances music learning becomes a casualty in schools’ prioritisation. So how about we collectively help to ease the pressure? Can we collectively support both in-school learning and the value of outside school learning – with the common goal of making young people into stronger adults of the future?

Who doesn’t wholeheartedly endorse in-school music learning? While we understand the challenges involved in making this happen in all schools, there are some practical steps we can take to encourage this to happen, and even make it easier. As parents, we can encourage music making taking place by talking to head-teachers and school governors. But we can go further by ensuring that the responsibility is not just left to schools, and building more ways to help young people get immersed in music making beyond the school gates. Familiarise yourself with the work of the music education hub and connect with the broader musical community, helping to connect in-school learning with other music-making opportunities in your area.

It doesn’t have to be, but music making can be expensive. When we hear about bursary support, free access, sponsorship, taster days and other opportunities let’s share it as widely as we possibly can.

We all feel the residual euphoria of hearing music that moves us, but less acknowledged is the intangible benefits of participation. So if it’s that good…why leave it to the kids? Each year, across 93 countries, there are some 600,000 ABRSM exams taken by young – and the not so young. The benefits of learning a new skill – or reviving neglected ones – are well documented. And as well as music being a good thing to do in and of itself, there’s increasing evidence of the cognitive benefits of music learning, as well as the transformative power of music. The same benefits identified for young learners apply to older learners: music engagement is good for growing confidence, social skills, keeping us connected, developing and connecting with others.

We want to empower learners, parents and teachers to make decisions and have opportunities to learn and help young people make and enjoy music – but let’s make sure we don’t leave the acquisition of life skills to the young: life (long learning) should mean life.

 

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