Teacher Talk

Nick Care, 46, is the area co-ordinator for the Buckinghamshire County Music Service (Central). He teaches music at numerous schools
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A recent Ofsted report said that musical instruments have become gender stereotyped, with girls playing the flute and boys the trumpet. Why is this?

A recent Ofsted report said that musical instruments have become gender stereotyped, with girls playing the flute and boys the trumpet. Why is this?

There are parental expectations and influences. Much of it is based on the image that the instrument projects. At the moment, the saxophone is quite popular. That might be because of the image it is getting in the pop world. If you see all boys playing an instrument, boys are probably more likely to play it too - there is a cumulative effect. Boys tend to play brass instruments, but we have an all-female trombone section at Turnfurlong Junior School.

Why do more girls than boys take music lessons?

Girls are thought to be more mature at a younger age. This would help them to cope with the heavy workload that taking up a musical instrument requires - practising, reading music and the theory.

What are the advantages of taking up music at an early age?

Music teaches you to use all areas of the brain, including language, numeracy, communication and co-ordination. In ensemble playing, everyone has to work together.

What effect do you think the Tomlinson report might have on music education?

There may be hidden problems in the ideas to reduce pressure and increase flexibility in education. When the literacy hour became a pillar in the classroom, it blocked other important aspects of education, like music. You might find that students again become welded to the classroom. It might become harder for them to attend their instrumental lessons, and harder for travelling music teachers - who can only teach during certain hours - to see them. On a positive note, if the "wider activities" in the report include musical instruments, it is a wonderful opportunity for musical education. One of the slightly oxymoronic problems with music is that because it is so enjoyable, its benefit as an academic subject is often missed.

If you would like to be featured in Teacher Talk, please e-mail education@independent.co.uk

Comments