The Music Commission’s new report, ‘Returning our Ambitions for Music Learning: Every Child Taking Music Further’ concludes that supporting every young person, regardless of background or circumstances, to take their music further must become the focus of music education.

The report warns that whole generations of talent risk being left out of a system that is in danger of becoming rapidly outdated, arguing that music is central in creating skills for a modern economy and society, and that taking music further also improves confidence, academic attainment and social skills. The 14-person Music Commission panel includes leading contemporary music figures and is chaired by Barbican managing director Sir Nicholas Kenyon.

Sir Nicholas said: ‘Every young person should be supported to achieve their musical potential, whatever their background. This is a basic issue of equality of opportunity. There is some great practice out there, especially in the early years, and we’ve shown that we can start them on this journey. The problem is that too often we are failing them – and ourselves – by not supporting them to progress and realise the personal, creative and economic benefits of the initial investment that we all make.’

Established by the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) with support from Arts Council England, the Music Commission urges governments to target funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and make the provision of music in schools a measure of providing a broad and balanced education, arguing that better connections must be forged and resources combined between schools, music teachers and the broad range of publicly funded music organisations in the community. Recommendations include bringing new technology into music teaching and learning with a new digital R&D fund and a technology in music competition to identify best practice and role models.

The panel also calls for:

  • Universal free school-based music tuition with guaranteed four-year agreements for Music Education Hubs in England contingent on agreed outcomes for inclusion and progression
  • A new stipulation that schools can only be classed as ‘outstanding’ if they are found to have a diverse cultural provision recognising the importance of music education
  • The appointment of Music Education Champions to motivate and unite music organisations and educators and National Centres for Leadership in Music Education to develop skills for future music leaders
  • Dynamic local and regional online Music Maps allowing parents and learners to see the music learning opportunities in their areas
  • New initiatives to give young people greater involvement in the planning and delivery work of music organisations