Cutting music lessons will ‘cost soul of the nation’ warn musicians after drop in funding

Radiohead’s classically trained guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Julian Lloyd Webber are also among the high-profile musicians supporting the campaign

Arts Correspondent

The celebrated violinist Nicola Benedetti and trumpet soloist Alison Balsom are among leading musicians calling on the Government to drop controversial advice to local authorities to pull funding for music lessons, warning it could “cost the soul of the nation”.

They have been brought together by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), a professional music body with over 6,500 members, which is fighting to maintain funding for lessons. Radiohead’s classically trained guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Julian Lloyd Webber are also among the high-profile musicians supporting the campaign.

The ISM said national funding has dropped from £82.5m in 2010/11 to £58m this year. The funds are distributed to 122 “music education hubs”  which oversee the funding.

But in March, the Department for Education proposed advising councils to cut support for music education. The ISM said this contradicts statements made in the Government’s National Plan for Music Education, which recognised the “important role music plays in children’s academic and social development”.

Benedetti said: “This isn’t an investment into the lives of musicians and artists, but in that of our entire society. This misunderstanding could cost the soul of this nation dearly.”

She added: “It is widely acknowledged that music education can improve numeracy, literacy and social interaction, and it deeply confuses and saddens me that we are having to fight so hard to save it.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want every child in the country to have the opportunity to play and enjoy music. That is why music remains statutory under the new national curriculum. We have also committed £171 million to set up 123 music hubs up and down the country, and £84 million to help exceptionally talented young musicians and dancers from low income families access specialist training.

“Councils are free to spend the Education Services Grant as they see fit. While we know that these savings will be challenging, we are protecting the overall schools' budget in real terms up to 2015-16, including the pupil premium. We will carefully consider the responses we received to the ESG consultation and will respond in due course.”

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