Melissa Bradshaw

21st century music education could keep disengaged young people in school, research says

4:16, 22nd May 2019

A new four-year research project, by Birmingham City University and national music charity Youth Music, has highlighted the importance of music education for young people at risk of educational exclusion.

The project, titled ‘Exchanging Notes’, studied young people’s musical interests and the positive impact of bringing music genres such as grime and hip-hop into the classroom, with the help of music industry professionals and local music-making projects.

The study’s key findings included:

  • Young people at risk of exclusion at the outset of the programme maintained higher levels of attendance (over 95%) throughout the project
  • There was an increase in participants performing above expectation in Maths and English over the course of the programme
  • Students who had previously been excluded found that the programme helped them to re-enter mainstream education

The importance of working in partnership with out-of-school music education providers for this new model of teaching music is highlighted in the 14 recommendations outlined in the report, which is available to read online here.

Dr Victoria Kinsella, senior research Fellow at Birmingham City University, explained: ‘During the four years of Exchanging Notes, project partners re-evaluated what it means to be and to become a musician.

‘We explored new understandings of what constitutes musical knowledge – going beyond measures of success based on musical standards, or level of skill, but taking account of musical and communicative practices that were more ethical and democratic.’

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, commented: ‘We believe our proposed new model is a win-win for all partners – including schools, music education hubs, music industry, multi-agency partners and local music-making projects – and most importantly young people.

‘Schools can offer an inspirational music curriculum that better supports social and emotional wellbeing; the music industry talent pipeline grows and is more diverse; and young people’s lives in music are completely connected both in and out of school.



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