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All about that bass: Why we must do all we can to encourage children to embrace musical learning

PUBLISHED: 11:41 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:41 05 March 2020

It may grate the ears of parents, but students who have the discipline to learn a musical instrument tend to thrive in other areas of school and should be encouraged, says Rachel Moore

It may grate the ears of parents, but students who have the discipline to learn a musical instrument tend to thrive in other areas of school and should be encouraged, says Rachel Moore

Highwaystarz-Photography

Let them play, says Rachel Moore - for it will probably boost their exam results

It's no coincidence that young people who play musical instruments also ace their academic exams.

Learning a musical instrument at school delivers far more than the earache parents suffer from the 111th massacre of Three Blind Mice or Go and Tell Aunt Nancy on the descant recorder.

Getting to grips with reading music, an instrument and performing has been credited with improving a child's maths, creative thinking and motor skills.

It encourages hard work, practice, discipline and develops stamina.

Making music together in a group or orchestra is fun, instills communication skills, confidence, teamwork and a hobby that can last for life.

It's a silver bullet for success, if given the chance. But it's hugely undervalued.

Getting lost in music isn't a phrase that came from nowhere. Being able to play a music instrument is a momentary escape from what's going on in life, a great mental health boost and way to relax.

Not everyone is musically adept, of course, but it should be an opportunity that every child should have to try to find out. It feels like deprivation to deny children the chance because their parents can't afford the eye-watering £40 an hour tuition fee when it should be part of every child's rounded education.

The earlier a child gets to grips with a musical instrument, the more the brain growth will be influenced.

But music lessons are very much now the preserve of the middle class, the well-off middle class at that, because it's an investment, not part of a curriculum that those of us brought up under 1970s schools funding enjoyed

Young musicians in Norwich are collecting signatures for a petition against Norfolk County Council's plans to more than half the number of full-time music teachers working with 270 Norfolk schools to 21, with the tutors who keep their jobs expected to teach multiple instruments.

The cost of tuition would increase from £34 per hour to £40 per hour with greater focus on group tuition. So more cash for less one-to-one tuition.

Music lessons might feel like a luxury and nice-to-have, but I'm convinced my old viola helped me to scramble through a maths O level and playing solos on the tenor recorder in front of school concerts boosted confidence.

Some of my happiest school memories were in the middle school orchestra with my favourite teacher, Mr Sharp - yes, a music teacher called Sharp - who gave up so much of his own time for our learning and enjoyment.

I was never an accomplished musician, and cringe about how I must have sounded when the three-strong viola section of the North Suffolk Youth Orchestra was asked to play a piece alone, but I looked forward to those Friday evening sessions run by the peripatetic teachers and learned so much about life from them.

The same with my children when they played instruments. It adds a valuable different dimension to life and personal growth.

But public money is scarce, one-to-one tuition is not an essential service and it is, after all, a matter of choice.

But wouldn't it be lovely if all those people who have made millions out of the privilege of having music lessons saw giving the same chances to children today as a priority for the future and sharing their luck?

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If each county created a charity supported by bands and musicians to give their children the chance to experience making music, life would be so much brighter for children. Perhaps not in its remit, but it can't be that hard to try that bit harder to give all our children a chance?

TURNING NEGATIVE INTO POSITIVE:

Membership of CND - Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for any readers too young to remember - was made up by people fearful of nuclear war.

I remember having nightmares and sleepless nights terrified that we would be "nuked" overnight.

Today's equivalent is eco-anxiety with children terrified about ecologocial disasters, floods, fires and global warming.

BBC Newsround conducted a survey of 2,000 eight to 16-year-olds.

The poll showed that young people are feeling frustrated and anxious about the state of the planet with 80 per cent saying the problem of climate change was important to them, and more than a third saying it was very important.

It's for parents to turn their anxiety into positive action and doing what they can in their own lives to be more ecologically responsible, encourage their children to find out what they can , and can do, about climate change to empower them to work to make a difference.

Working together to make the world a better place brings families together too.

Telling them not to worry is pointless. Turn their negative thinking into positives for the family.

ARE MASCOTS SAFE?

The giant Jolly Fisherman mascot that lumbers around Skegness welcoming visitors is to be taken off the prom after 112 years because of health and safety rules.

Now council-owned, regulations mean that volunteers can only spend 20 minutes at a time in the costume, they need a minder and the role poses hygiene risks if more than one volunteer wears the costume.

A council reports also blames a lack of funds, storage space for the costume and a dwindling number of volunteers to be Jolly.

Where do these rules leave our Captain Canary, Pleasurewood Hill's Woody Bear and Great Yarmouth's Horatio Herring?

Is this the beginning of the end of the giant mascots that have terrified children for decades?


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