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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Pupils 'choose to pick up guitar'
Of pupils learning an instrument, 16% play guitar, the survey suggests
Of pupils learning an instrument, 16% play guitar, the study suggests
The guitar has become the most popular musical instrument to learn for children aged between eight and 11, an education department survey suggests.

An average of 590 are learning guitar in each local authority compared with an average of 534 learning any other stringed instrument, it indicates.

By the ages of 15 and 16, the figures have dropped to 130 for the guitar and 53 for any other stringed instrument.

Study author Susan Hallam said there had been a "huge shift" in lessons.

She told BBC News local authorities had previously been accused of bias towards "elitist Western classical music for the middle classes".

"And they have tried to move away from that with a different approach."

Children playing musical instruments
There has been a huge change in the range of instruments being taught
Susan Hallam, Institute of Education

Music lessons had become "more relevant to a wider range of children", Ms Hallam added.

"There has been a huge change in the range of instruments being taught."

Lessons also covered a far wider range of styles, including much more folk and world music, Ms Hallam said.

But the survey does not include data for private music lessons.

And among pupils of all ages, the violin remains the most popular instrument to learn, according to the research.

Nearly one out of every five pupils learning an instrument is practising the violin.

This is "probably because it is relatively cheap to buy and available in a range of sizes for young children", the report says.

But the guitar is not far behind, with 16% of pupils learning an instrument strumming its strings.

Music Industries Association chief executive Paul McManus told the Telegraph newspaper the "resurgence" of guitar bands like Franz Ferdinand, the Arctic Monkeys and Razorlight had made the playing guitar "cool" once again.

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