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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 18:57 GMT
Music lessons for care children
School children playing musical instruments
Learning a musical instrument can boost academic achievement
The joys of squeaking out sounds on the recorder or the saxophone should no longer be the exclusive province of children of parents with cash to spare.

Children in care are to get the chance to play a musical instrument too, says education secretary Alan Johnson.

It was not fair so many were unable to "explore their musical prowess" when they often had most to gain, he said.

Not only did music boost confidence it provided an escape from daily stresses and strains, he told a conference.

Hearing their "dulcet tones blend harmoniously with others" could help children in care counter "their sense of isolation", he added.


Mr Johnson told a conference on the education of children in care organised by charity Barnardo's: "Where many natural parents will pay for their children to have music lessons, buy them an instrument, and encourage practice, many children in care will not get these chances.

"Yet, paradoxically, they could have the most to gain.

"Music enables self expression, protects against social alienation and encourages team working."

He added: "As well as its therapeutic value, there is also increasing evidence that children who learn music perform better in exams, and find it easier to concentrate and memorise facts.

"I intend to ensure that every child in care has access to a quality musical experience and the opportunity to learn a musical instrument."

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