When I was only seven years old, I was introduced to one of the great loves of my life - the French Horn. A music teacher was leading the assembly and had taken the opportunity to show us the wonderful world of brass instruments. He invited any keen volunteers to come up and have a go at making one of these shiny instruments produce the same unmistakable rich brass sound that he could. Amazingly, I was able to! And so, my story studying music began.
I took up the French Horn and had private lessons outside of school hours, which is how I learnt to read printed music. I was fortunate that my parents could afford to pay for these lessons. There was also the option to learn via the local Instrumental Music Service: However, this sort of service is now only available on a very limited basis, and sometimes not at all. If neither of these options are available to a child, their musical education and the skill of reading print music must come from their school. But, while some schools can afford to buy original copies of printed music, it is not often enough to give everyone in the class a copy, and with such a mixed sight-reading ability it is difficult to cater for each student. Consequently, although my study of music could continue outside of school, for many children now, musical education is never really able to get off the ground, all due to the lack of access to printed music. Sadly, there are many children today who are missing out on a valuable musical education.
I am of the opinion that musical education, including being taught how to read printed music, is vital to young people. There are many reasons why music education is important, but some that spring immediately to mind include:
- Music education encourages children to think creatively;
- By learning to read music, students can be part of orchestras, choirs, and other musical groups, developing their social skills and abilities to work within a team;
- Music is a huge part of our global cultural history and gives students a footing into the wider world;
- Reading music can improve students' mathematical ability as they learn about tempo and rhythm;
- There's a wide, and under-publicised, career path for musicians - the UK has a world-class music industry, with opportunities in both the classical and commercial sectors.
Today, with Progress 8 measures and the focus on English Baccalaureate subjects, schools are feeling increasingly pressured to let subjects like music fall by the wayside. Some now regard music as an extra-curricular activity that comes with a hefty price tag, meaning there are many children in the UK that are missing out on an enjoyable and enriching educational experience. This makes it that much more important for children to receive a musical education as part of their curriculum. In 2013, Printed Music Licensing Limited (PMLL) introduced the Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML), putting printed music in the hands of students and making the possibility of a fulfilling musical education a reality.
The SPML allows music teachers, including peripatetics, to make copies and arrangements of printed music for use in schools. This means that music teachers don't need to seek copyright clearance each time they make copies, provided that the school already owns an original print copy. Currently, all state-maintained schools and academies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland hold a licence. Licence fees are distributed back to music publishers, ensuring they can continue creating the wonderful resources that make music education so rich.
SPML celebrates musical education and is now hosting a competition showcasing the importance of printed music in Schools. It is only through shining a spotlight on how children come to life when they perform music that the importance of musical education can really be witnessed. The competition, Shake It Up, invites music teachers to submit a unique arrangement of a piece of printed music that has been used for the purposes of a school activity, whether that be a curricular lesson or a performance of the School Orchestra. The winner of the competition will receive £700 to spend on musical resources. We'd love if you could spread the word to any and all music teachers you may know and with your help, we can show children how with the aid of printed music, they are able to make the music their own.
About the Author
Alexandra Reed is the Senior Digital Marketing Executive at CLA, and the editor of the re:source blog. Prior to working at CLA, Alexandra attended the University of Exeter where she competed an English Literature degree.