Gender stereotypes call tune in music lessons

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The Independent Online

Girls are nine times more likely to learn to play the flute than boys with gender stereotyping going unchallenged in music lessons, the education watchdog Ofsted said yesterday.

Girls are nine times more likely to learn to play the flute than boys with gender stereotyping going unchallenged in music lessons, the education watchdog Ofsted said yesterday.

Female students are three times as likely to learn the violin or the clarinet than male classmates, a study of music lessons provided by local education authorities concluded. Meanwhile, twice as many boys as girls learned to play the trumpet, percussion or guitar.

Inspectors were alarmed to find that sexist assumptions about children's musical preferences went unchallenged and were sometimes reinforced by schools and councils.

The headteacher of one mixed school had bought a set of brass instruments for boys' use only. In two other authorities, music-service managers accepted without challenge the assertion that girls preferred woodwind and boys preferred percussion. They argued that, in a market economy, council-run music services should provide whatever was requested rather than question it.

The study of schools in 15 English Local Education Authorities found that, overall, girls were more likely than boys to take up music lessons. Sixty per cent of the 54,000 children in the study were female.

The study also found that children from poorer families were missing out on the chance to learn an instrument. Council-run music lessons cost up to £29 an hour - and bursaries were often too low to attract children from less well-off families.

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