Recorders 'put children off music for life'

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The Independent Online

The experience of squeaking and puffing away to primary classroom classics such as "Frère Jacques" or "Old Macdonald's Farm" has done little to foster a national love affair with the recorder.

The experience of squeaking and puffing away to primary classroom classics such as "Frère Jacques" or "Old Macdonald's Farm" has done little to foster a national love affair with the recorder.

Research published today suggests that such an unharmonious first encounter convinces one in three youngsters to abandon playing an instrument by secondary school age. The scale of the damage done to youth music by the dreaded recorder is revealed by the Economic and Social Research Council.

It says that as they approach their teens, children revolt en masse against music because they are forced to play what they consider to be "a child's instrument". Many schools expect pupils to continue with the recorder until they give up compulsory music lessons at 14.

The research, by Dr Susan O'Neill of Keele University for the council, says schools use the recorder because it is cheap and durable. However, it adds: "Children do not associate playing the recorder with their musical role models in the adult world."

Those youngsters most likely to continue playing music in secondary school were given the choice of playing the instrument of their adult role models, usually guitars, organs, pianos, drums or violins.

Researchers interviewed more than 1,200 children in their final year of primary schooling for the report and followed 882 to the end of the first year of secondary school.

The Department for Education and Skills will publish the results of asurvey of school music services in the autumn.

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