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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
School music lessons 'manifesto'
School children playing musical instruments
Music is prominent in young people's lives, manifesto says
Musicians have teamed up with government ministers and others to produce a "manifesto" to enhance young people's music-making.

"Music can be magic" it says, and has "a unique contribution to make to education".

The music manifesto promises over five years to give every child in England the chance of free or cut-price instrument tuition.

But some leading musicians complain the government is not doing enough.


The manifesto was launched on Tuesday at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London, with support from producer Sir George Martin, former singer and head of the Live Music Forum, Feargal Sharkey, and hip-hop star Jamelia.

Its 70 signatories say they are committed to helping young people "create the soundtrack to their lives", and have come up with various associated pledges.

They say that, "over time, every primary school child should have opportunities for sustained and progressive instrumental tuition, offered free of charge or at a reduced rate".

It means that social background or lack of money need not be a hindrance
Youngsters will be helped to create, record and promote their own music - whether through choirs and orchestras or "garage" bands, as performers or DJs.

Key to all this will be the increased use in schools of "para-professional support staff" - made possible by the changes to teachers' contracts aimed at reducing their workload.

Jamelia said she was 15 when she signed a record deal, and her musical education had been listening to records with friends.

"Anything that makes it easier for kids to explore their creativity and musical talent can only be a good thing. It means that social background or lack of money need not be a hindrance. Resources are open to everyone."

Resource issue

The School Standards Minister, David Miliband, said: "The manifesto is a routemap for the future of music in school and by schoolchildren. This is just the start - we expect new pledges and new signatories to come on board this unique collaboration."

Money that schools could bid for would continue, he promised - totalling 180m between now and 2008.

The National Union of Teachers said school music had suffered from a lack of resources and time.

"This manifesto should help reverse that trend and will be welcomed by teachers and pupils across the country," said the general secretary, Steve Sinnott.

"Welcome as this initiative is, it can only work if sufficient resources are made available to schools to support the programme and greater flexibility over the curriculum is given to all schools."

'Delivering very little'

Founder members of the Music Education Consortium, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, have taken the government to task.

Ms Glennie said it had repeatedly pulled away from giving a solid commitment to alter the curriculum or provide "real funds" so every child could play an instrument without paying for it.

"This government have spent 18 months going back and forth with the consortium saying they will improve things, but delivering very little in real terms."

And the shadow arts minister, Boris Johnson, said the manifesto was "a document of Wagnerian length with more hot air than the wind section of the London Philharmonic".

Music was a wonderful thing, but it was hard to see how schools would fit it in - at least without extra funding that did not seem to be on offer.

He suggested "step one of the Tory music manifesto" would be: "bring back hymns - or at least singing in unison - to the morning assembly."

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