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Cost of instruments keeps pupils out of music lessons

Children are being denied the chance to learn music because schools cannot afford the instruments, according to a survey published today.

Thousands of primary and secondary schools are suffering from lack of cash - on average they have just pounds 340 a year to spend on musical instruments.

The figures are part of a study commissioned by the Co-op, which has launched a Music for Schools Initiative with the backing of the classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the rock superstar Phil Collins.

The study showed that:

n Four in five schools (82 per cent) do not have enough musical instruments to go round

n Two-thirds (63 per cent) blame poor funding for the shortages

n Three in five schools (59 per cent) say pupils have been denied the chance to learn an instrument.

The Co-op, whose scheme begins today, is giving away vouchers for free musical instruments to shoppers who spend pounds 10 at participating stores.

Ms Glennie said: "Music often seems to be the soft target for the hatchet man looking to cut school budgets . . . New research overseas has shown that learning music can help children improve in other areas, such as reading - so it's a shame so many of our youngsters are losing out."

Phil Collins added: "Most kids want to learn to play musical instruments - but it seems the demand often exceeds the availability of instruments in schools."