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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 13:36 GMT
School music gets extra funding
Howard Goodall
Howard Goodall is to become the new "singing ambassador"
A 10m package of measures to boost singing and music education in primary schools in England has been announced.

The extra cash will fund a national singing campaign in primary schools led by composer Howard Goodall who has been named as a new "singing ambassador".

It will also allow choir schools to work closely with other local schools.

A new songbook with a top 30 of songs for whole-class singing is to be compiled, with teachers and children nominating songs for inclusion.

Music has a tremendous power to bring people together
Alan Johnson, Education Secretary

Education Secretary Alan Johnson gave details of the proposals at the State of Play festival at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London, on Tuesday.

It was part of the government's response to the second music manifesto report which calls for an end to the postcode lottery of music education.

Mr Johnson said: "As well as being worthwhile activity for its own sake, music is a powerful learning tool which can build children's confidence, teamwork and language skills.

"A better musical education for pupils can also help them hit the right note in their studies."

Not only does music enhance all our lives, he said, but studies have shown that children who can read music have a greater ability to memorise facts.

The extra money brings the amount of cash invested in music in schools to 95m.

It will also fund the roll-out of a programme, called Music Start, designed to engage parents and young children in music.

The Youth Service Survey 2006 found that 79% of schools said singing is an important part of school life.

'Hard work'

Seven out of 10 schools use singing in national curriculum subjects as well as in music.

Mr Goodall said: "For me, singing in particular is every child's first, intuitive access to the world of music, but it is also a powerful and often untapped resource for social cohesion.

"There is barely an adult alive who does not wish they could sing with more confidence or that they had had a better start with their voices as children.

"The new singing campaign addresses those aspirations at the grass roots - in every primary school in the country."

Music manifesto champion Marc Jaffrey said music education in the UK was a success story built on the hard work and determination of professionals.

But there was still a class-bias in the delivery of music education, he said, which meant it was totally alien to many families.

"More music organisations need to champion social inclusion," he added.

But the Liberal Democrats' culture spokesperson, Paul Holmes, said that only 13% of children at primary school are learning a musical instrument.

"Teaching children to sing must not simply be a cheaper alternative to fulfilling the government's promise of giving every child the opportunity to learn an instrument," said Mr Holmes.

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