Classical stars confront Clarke over dearth of school music

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Some of the world's most famous instrumentalists will meet the Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, tomorrow to demand a substantial increase in the amount of school time devoted to music.

Flautist Sir James Galway, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie OBE will argue that years of cutbacks, tests and targets have driven music to the edge of the curriculum.

Increasingly, they fear, only middle-class children get the chance to play an instrument. "There must be some obligatory music on the curriculum, even if it is only half-an-hour a day," said Mr Lloyd Webber. "If it is not obligatory, many heads will not feel able to do it."

Earlier this year the group wrote to Tony Blair and Mr Clarke raising their "grave concern about the increasing marginalisation of music", pointing out that two-thirds of children below the age of 14 were unable to name a single classical composer.

Following the letter, Mr Clarke promised to tackle the problems personally. Now, say the musicians, it is time for him to deliver. Evelyn Glennie said: "I have seen the decline of provision of music education in the school curriculum. My goal is to keep lobbying to help children go on to live their dreams, as I have. The UK has enjoyed being the focal point of musical talent and it would be a national tragedy to see this legacy slip away, due to underinvestment in tomorrow's talent."

* Young people were encouraged to take up bass instruments such as the tuba last week, when Youth Music launched a £1m instrument purchase scheme.