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Why schools NEED music

Think the core subjects are all that matters? This head teacher's words might make you rethink...(she's even got Einstein on her side)

I recently took my 10-year-old daughter to watch the Kent College performance of The Phantom of The Opera and was totally blown away. I mean I knew it would be good, but this was beyond any of my expectations. Secondary school kids singing opera note perfect, professional quality stage sets, top notch orchestra… But what stayed with me the most afterwards (apart from the songs that I was *begged* to stop singing) was the sense of what a life-changing experience this must have been for each and every child involved.

Headmistress at Kent College, Julie Lodrick

Being part of a shared creative project like that leaves an impression on you forever. Teaching discipline, perseverance, stamina and improving memory and boosting confidence (just for starters)… So I wanted to ask head teacher at Kent College, Julie Lodrick, (she’s a talented musician and singer herself) what she thought of recent cut-backs across education in the arts. Think the core subjects are all that matters? Her answer might just change your mind…(she’s even got Einstein on her side). Over to you Ms Lodrick:

‘The recent news that some schools have had to schedule music GCSE as an extra-curricular option is a sad indictment of the pressure that the state sector is under to use curriculum time for core subjects that are measured by SATS and league tables. What’s more, in a recent teacher survey 97% agreed that, particularly in primary school, SATS preparation did not support children’s access to a broad and balanced curriculum, saying the time taken to prepare children for assessment in Maths and English has squeezed out other subjects and activities. The problem continues on into secondary where, the proportion of 15 and 16 year olds taking subjects like music and drama has fallen to its lowest level in 10 years.

‘Yet the creative arts is an integral element of providing pupils with a broad and balanced education. Quite rightly, we have seen a growing emphasis on ensuring our pupils leave school with a skillset that enables them to maintain good mental health and physical wellbeing. The arts plays a vital role in this regard, be it through music, dance or drama opportunities.

Creative subjects provide the perfect example of the power of practice, which is not necessarily measurable but learning an instrument or lines for a play improves concentration, memory and helps pupils develop perseverance, resilience and confidence. Singing releases muscle tension, reduces stress levels and depression, and has even been shown to help in maintaining a healthy immune system. Communal singing also offers a great sense of community and the chance to build life-long friendships.’

‘Then there are the tricky perceptions that the arts do not provide sufficient academic rigor. Maths and Music are inextricably linked and can be taken as a joint degree in a number of top UK universities. What a wealth of talent we will be losing if we do not grow the potential of future musicians, actors and dancers. As Einstein said: “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”

It is an issue that unites the state and independent sectors and there are already some excellent examples of collaborations that are providing opportunities for all pupils to experience high quality projects. The point to remember is that children and young adults are neither amateur nor professional; they are a class all of their own. The power of their artistic skill is beyond measure and we must not lose it at any cost.’

Kent College for Girls, Pembury, Open Morning, Wed 7 Mar, 9.15am to 12.00pm. Due to demand there’s an additional Entrance Day for Year 7 and 9, Fri 16 March

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