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Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 19:49 GMT
Stars back school music campaign
Julian Lloyd Webber
Lloyd Webber says it is crucial children learn music
Leading classical musicians have called on the government to stop music being "squeezed out" of school timetables.

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and flautist Sir James Galway are among the big names behind the campaign.

They have written to Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell urging them to put music centre-stage in the national curriculum.

Lloyd Webber said learning music at school was essential to a child's development.

Evelyn Glennie
Evelyn Glennie is supporting the campaign
He said: "As well as being stimulating, motivating and entertaining, classical music teaches us valuable lessons about taste, choice, interpretation - these are essential life skills, which our children have the right to learn."

Lloyd Webber, who recently became the first official busker on the London Underground in aid of the Prince's Trust charity, has long been a high-profile champion of classical music.

He has been critical of the media for what he claims is its focus on the pop world at the expense of classical music.

Composer Michael Kamen said music was a "vital" part of a good education - as important as being able to read, spell and add up.

Sir James Galway
Sir James Galway says music fosters creativity
Kamen said a recent survey showing nearly two-thirds of six to 14-year-olds could not name a single classical composer "illustrates an appalling lack of cultural literacy".

Also backing the campaign was Sir James Galway.

He said: "Not only can it be highly enjoyable to children, but music education also engenders the kind of creativity, thinking and listening skills that make them valuable employees when they leave school and look for work - whatever their field."

In October Mick Jagger gave 100,000 to his old grammar school in Dartford to encourage more children to make music.

Last week, radio station Classic FM announced it was starting a TV channel designed to woo younger fans of classical music.

See also:

25 Nov 02 | Entertainment
07 Oct 02 | England
27 Oct 02 | Education
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