Let Them Eat Cake

Tom Service’s Guardian blog carries news today of another council considering cutting its provision for music lessons in schools, and its county orchestras and bands:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/tomserviceblog

This is a deeply worrying trend, and is storing up a time bomb. Training to be a professional musician is already absurdly expensive, and increasingly so, especially considering that young people are now graduating from their first university courses with 5-figure debts.

But the prospect of making the initial lessons available only to those whose parents can afford them is an even greater act of mindless cultural vandalism. I can’t imagine that there is a single professional classical musician who came through the state school system in this country who would have started on their training without their local authority’s music provision – I know that I certainly wouldn’t have.

Let’s be clear about this – classical music is not elitist. It has something to say to every human being, no matter what their means or background, and furthermore every human being has the potential to tap into and explore their own musical talent.

But if we continue down the path of removing the opportunities for children from less-well-off backgrounds to learn to sing or play an instrument, then elitist is what it will become. Do we really want to turn back the clock 200 years, for the sake of saving a tiny fraction of public expenditure, and return to an age where music was the preserve of only a privileged few?

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About Paul Carey Jones

Paul Carey Jones is a Welsh opera singer. He should be writing about the current state of the classical music business but might well digress into science, politics, football or cheese. He has recently started a series of irregular posts along the broad theme of "Things they don't teach you at music college." Any suggestions or requests on this theme will be treated with feigned or genuine interest. You can contact him via comments here or at: mail@paulcareyjones.com
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