Don’t Stop the Music – music in schools

I’m big on children having the opportunity to play music.  Obviously, as that’s why I set up my Music Exploration linky in the first place.  Neither of my parents were musical (well, my dad played trumpet for a bit at school), but my mum was really keen on giving us the opportunity to learn if we so wanted.  That stemmed from her having always wanted to play the piano as a child, but when she inherited her Nan’s piano, her dad refused her the chance to have it because ‘music’s a middle class thing to do’.

Of course music isn’t, but it’s definitely harder for some children to access musical instruments than others.  While pop music is a start point for so many children, the discipline and benefits from learning a musical instrument can be seen in various studies.

Last week I watched Don’t Stop the Music, a documentary in which James Rhodes, a professional concert pianist, is leading the charge to increase the opportunity for all school children to have the chance to play a musical instrument.  When we were children, I was lucky enough that we did have a few musical instruments around the school (percussion predominantly), and once at secondary school there were instruments you could access via the County Music Service if you so needed.  Because I learnt from primary school age, I had private lessons, and my own instrument (although I did save up for my own A clarinet and saxophone later on, in addition to my normal clarinet and piano).

But the tv show really brought it home how much classical music could inspire children if they were given the chance.  And how little money there is in schools to bring proper music lessons (and we’re talking someone who knows what they’re talking about to inspire the children, rather than having a generalist primary school teacher roped in).  Our school was lucky that we always seemed to have a teacher who was experienced in music and wanted to share that with the children.  We also had good links with the catchment secondary school on the music side.

The tv show made me cry.  Watching the children be first introduced to classical music at a concert level, and their faces in astonishment as James played the frantic ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ was wonderful.  And seeing the boy still struggling after a week to get a sound out of his flute was heart breaking – he did manage in the end.  Classical music isn’t so out of reach to children as people often say.  I agree when the show said that catching children younger, is the way to get them, before they’re dismissive of anything deemed ‘uncool’.

It really showed how much children can benefit from playing in an orchestra together, that sense of pride of achievement, the discipline and practice, time management that they need to put in.  But also how much change schools need to make to start a music programme like this in their school.  It’s definitely something the government should be looking at in more depth in my opinion.

Obviously musical instruments cost money and schools need help.  That’s where the Don’t Stop the Music instrument amnesty comes in.

If you’ve got a musical instrument hanging around in your house un-played and unloved (or loved but maybe just forgotten), then you can hand it in to Oxfam shops as part of the amnesty.  The instruments will then be handed out to schools to give more children the chance to learn to play and experience what so many of us as children and young adults had the chance to do.

Will I be handing in my instruments which are, admittedly, languishing in the loft and under the stairs cupboard?  I do have a treble recorder to donate…it must be fate as I hand taken it to a car boot sale a when we did one, it didn’t sell and I was going to tip it.  But then left it in the car.  So I shall be taking that along.  My clarinet and saxophone I won’t because once I’ve got the piano I shall get them out again, and set them up in a music area.  Maybe N will want to learn in a few years.  My A clarinet is unlikely to be used again as it’s an orchestral instrument.  It’s probably not very useful to the amnesty, but they might be able to make use or sell it on to get some funds back for the campaign.

start them early on the recorder
Start them early, I say!

Will you be donating any instruments?  Do your children learn?  What’s the state of music for children in your area/schools?

Bubbablue and me music linky
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  1. Sadly I’ve never learnt to play any instrument but I’ll hapily let my kids if they show an inetrest, The girls school is takign them ona trip next week to see a film which apparently will inspire them to want to play classical music – we will see! Mich x

    1. It’s good they’re getting the chance to see music even if it’s in films. Hopefully it’ll inspire some of them to listen to more music if not play it.

  2. I think introducing children to any music has to be a good thing and worry that classical music can turn kids off. I have no musical ability, my brother taught himself to play the piano after hating music at school. If his music classes had been more contemporary I really believe he’d have followed a different career path. I’d love monkey to play an instrument, but the instrument of choice at school will be a violin – not my first choice!

    1. Urgh, the violin by little children. Horrendous. But then if they’ve got a knack for it, it can sound wonderful after a while.

      I don’t think our local school even does music lessons, it’s just too small a school. Will have to do some research and find out about what’s out there ready for when he’s a bit older.

  3. Music therapy has proven to work well for children that are developmentally delayed. There is something wonderful about music that sparks creativity in the mind. Great post.

  4. I think music is so important for kids and their development. I can’t see worth a lick but I have always made up songs to use as teaching tools for my son. He loves them and they are easy to remember.

  5. I always enjoyed music class in school. I wasn’t very food at it but I likes it. This is such a great program.

  6. I’m so happy the music dept at my kiddos’ schools is so important even though their schools are small. In Florida that was not the case, and there was not even a strings section for band.

  7. I don’t have any to donate at the moment. That sounds like a great show to watch. Will check it out.

  8. Music is a great way to express yourself. I love listening to my little ones playing on their instruments

  9. All Gods children have soul as they say. Music calms the savage beast. We have music everywhere… just listen. I’m married to a musician. I play piano, accordion, and a little bit on the guitar, and we both sing. My children are also very musical, and we all dance. Everyone has to have some music in their lives, and it’s best to start as children.

  10. I agree with you. We should encourage our kids to do what they want and support them.

    With my eldest daughter, I am planning of buying her an acoustic guitar, but right now she’s into singing and not yet into playing musical instruments.. But hoping that once I got her a guitar, she’ll like the idea of learning to play one. 🙂

  11. Our parents wanted us to learn how to play the piano. We appreciated it and tried attending lessons for seven years. There are more children in our area who play the guitar though. It’s easier to carry around.

    1. So true. It’s a great way to meet likeminded people. I loved having breadth of friends across different age groups and from different schools in the area

  12. Music is NECESSARY in kids lives. Especially the classics. SO much of the music today is not music. My boys LOVE recorders and harmonicas.

  13. I believe in music specially when children are taught about it in schools. My children love singing and it would be a disappointment if they didn’t offer it.

  14. My school district has a massive music and arts program. It wasn’t really until I went to college when I heard about others direct experience of not having music or art programs in school or not having as many options did I even believe that all this talk was real since I never experienced it.

    1. I so agree. My primary and even more so, my secondary school were really strong on music. Lucky being in a fairly well off area as I expect alot was due to parents rather than county music paying out

  15. Donating instruments not being used is a great thing to do for kids. My sons were both in band in High School. My youngest is graduating next year but still plays his Sax. It is best to get the kids into playing young. My son wanted to play guitar at like 8 yrs old and started learning guitar on his own. He still plays his guitar and his sax. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It’s a great way to chill out and meet friends as well, as children are growing up. Great that your children chose what they wanted to play as that helps them continue it for longer

  16. I think this is great. I am wondering if my oldest son is more musically inclined than sports inclined. Playing an instrument just might be the thing that is up his alley.

  17. I always have some sort of music playing in our house & my kids school does have a music program with a teacher that goes above & beyond. I think we’re very fortunate in that aspect.

  18. I have played classical music for my children their whole lives. I can’t tell you the joy I get when I hear them humming “Ode to Joy” or ” Hall of the Mountain King while they do their home work or clean their rooms. Music education is so important. Hopefully we will begin to demand it of our schools again.

  19. I feel the kids would be better off with music in their lives.. its such a soothing device and when you know more about it, it helps..

  20. I can;t even imagine school without music. I think it would have been impossible for me to get through. Even when I nannied I took kids to Music Together classes or sang in MyGym. I think music for kids is absolutely vital.


  21. We need to keep music in our schools. It fosters creativity and a love of the arts. It also improves children’s performance in other areas of learning as well.

    1. You’re so right. there’ve also been links with maths and music, so it can be helpful to subjects that seem on the surface to be totally opposite

  22. This is such a great post and very needed. Music education in schools has been proven to improve academic performance in most other areas as well.

  23. I am a big music lover and I have always instilled the importance of music in my kids lives, too. I hope they grow up to love it as much as me.

  24. I’m a huge believer in my children loving music. Boo currently learns to recorder and the piano and Bugs just bangs around on drums… They both love music and listen to a wide range. I think I may have some interments and things spare somewhere I will have to dig them out x

    1. Yay, would be great if anything is dug out. So sad when children don’t have the opportunity. I’m hoping N will be keen when he’s a bit older

  25. I don’t have instruments just lying around the house. I gave away a banjo that I had a few years ago and I never once thought that schools would take a donation. This is great to know. I’ll also carve out some time to watch ‘Don’t Stop The Music’.

    My 8 year old is playing the recorder and the instrument was given to her for free from the school. It’s just an introductory instrument and we’ll have to rent or purchase any instruments she decides to take up next year.

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