The Music Manifesto, four years on

The Music Manifesto was launched in 2004 as a 3 to 5 year programme. As we come to the end of year 4, Richard Hallam, National Music Participation Co-ordinator at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, takes stock of the programme and considers how to take it into the next 10 years.

First let me declare an interest. In 2003 I was seconded from my full time post as Specialist Music Adviser and head of the music service in Oxfordshire to the then DfES as music adviser for 2 days per week. One of my duties in this role was to chair the Music Manifesto Steering Group. I have therefore been heavily involved in the development of the Music Manifesto.

Music has always been very special to me. It certainly transformed my life. Along with most, if not all, ISM colleagues involved in education, I have seen at first hand the life changing experiences that music can bring to young people, particularly the most disadvantaged - the sheer joy and the enhanced self esteem and confidence that music can give. How often we hear young people say after a performance ‘that was the best experience in my whole life’ and what of the child who said afterwards, ‘my mum was so proud, she hugged me’ only to then add ‘my mum never usually hugs me.’ It is for this reason that I have always wanted every young person to have the opportunity to sing and to learn a musical instrument. When I became the Director of Music in Oxfordshire in the 1980s I set out 4 fundamental principles to underpin our service – that everyone who wished should have the opportunity to learn an instrument; those who wished to persevere should be able to realise their potential and to continue as far as they wished; whilst also providing the groundwork for those who might wish to continue to pursue a career in music; and providing opportunities for making music with others. I was therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to develop these aspirations nationally under the banner of the Music Manifesto.

Some people saw the Music Manifesto as a Government owned initiative as opposed to a Government facilitated initiative. It was seen as generating a lot of meetings but with no funding to back it up. In practice, the meetings and reports were necessary to gather the information that resulted in the funding. The first report gave an overview of the situation in music education, celebrating the fact that much excellent work is going on. It demonstrated that, at best, we are world leaders in music, but that not everyone has access to the best. In October 2006 the second report made 69 recommendations, some of which called for action on the part of Government that, if implemented would enable us to move towards everychild having access to a better music education.

The Music Manifesto Steering Group was then disbanded and, in keeping with the original spirit of facilitating rather than owning, a Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group (MMPAG) was set up under the chairmanship of Darren Henley, Chief Executive of

Classic fm. I attend the meetings as an observer. The group has chosen 5 priority areas: an award scheme which celebrates good practice in music education; workforce development; transition (particularly children moving from KS2 to KS3); crossing boundaries between the formal music education sector and out-of-school activities; special educational needs and inclusivity.

Let me now turn to the impact this work has had on funding. The State of Play conference in January 2007 saw the then Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, announce £10m for a singing programme and in November 2007, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, a total of £332m was announced for music over the next 3 years. In response to requests from music services the charging legislation was amended. A further £10 million each year for the next 3 years was made available to continue the National Singing Programme, Sing Up, and £40 million was announced for the purchase of good quality musical instruments for use with the Key Stage 2 Instrumental and Vocal Tuition programme, commonly known as Wider Opportunities. (See also the Incoming Warden’s address in Music Journal June 2008 p20 and the Annual Conference report in Music Journal July 2008 p17). The Music Standards Fund was combined into one fund which was again ring-fenced for music, with the clear statement that ‘the authority will retain overall responsibility for monitoring the quality and value for money of the provision purchased, and for ensuring that access at KS2 is a priority.’ Additional funding was made available for partnerships and £3 million is about to be allocated in response to a competitive tendering process for In Harmony, an exciting programme inspired by the El Sistema programme in Venezuela. Of course, this is in addition to three other sources of funding that are available for music related activities: the general funding that is already in schools to give young people their statutory entitlement to music education through the National Curriculum; funding for Gifted and Talented pupils and extended schools funding.

Find Your Talent is another initiative that deserves mention here as music will certainly feature in the Government’s aspiration for every young person to have access to 5 hours of culture every week. £25 million has been invested nationally over the next 3 years for 10 pilot areas to explore what this might look like in practice.

As many of you will know the Music Manifesto set out to address 5 key areas:

  1. To provide every young person with first access to a range of musical experiences
  2. To provide more opportunities for young people to deepen and broaden their musical interests and skills
  3. To identify and nurture our most talented young musicians
  4. To develop a world class workforce in music education
  5. To improve the support structures for young people in music making

I believe we have made a significant start on achieving this for all young people. I also believe that nationally we can realise the figures quoted in the Aspirations, Support and Delivery paper: to reach 2 million young musicians by 2011, of whom at least 1.5 million will choose to continue to learn a musical instrument. Young people will participate in one or more of 45,000 ensembles. And to address concerns that quantity would sacrifice quality, by 2011 targets were set for 800,000 to be playing and singing at standards equivalent to Grades 1 to 3; 400,000 at standards equivalent to grades 4 and 5, with some achieving higher standards. Based on personal observations of best practice and discussions with colleagues I remain confident that these aspirations are deliverable.

One head of department in a secondary school who has, for the past 2 years, received several young people who had experienced Wider Opportunities said: ‘this programme is redefining music education. It has revolutionised the way we are teaching. The impact of Wider Opps is incredible.’ Pupils are ‘more engaged with what we are doing – much more advanced – aural skills are much better – you can feel it in there, it has had a major impact on what they can do musically.’

I have personally seen whole classes of Year 5 pupils who are able to read staff notation. They can play a blues pattern and improvise. No wonder we are having to rethink what we offer them at Key Stage 3.

Some of our Wider Opportunities programmes need to change. They are not all examples of best practice. Where best practice exists pupils have good technique, play and sing in tune, make good progress and have a musical experience. Most of them want to continue to learn after their first free year of tuition. There is no ‘one size fits all’ but all pupils can and should have a meaningful and worthwhile experience.

I believe this is a wonderful opportunity. It requires all of us to contribute. We will need everyone who is interested in music education to be part of our world class workforce. Some will be interested in supporting first access, others in deepening and broadening young people’s musical interests and skills, whilst yet others will choose to work only with our most talented young musicians. Some pupils may wish to experience only ensemble tuition, occasionally having small group or individual attention to help them with particular technical issues. For some this help may come from older students. And if anyone doubts the efficacy of this, you only have to look to the superb standards achieved by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra so see that it is possible. We will need a mixture of large and small group tuition for most young people with regular individual lessons being only for the most talented.

Looking to the future, if in 10 years time we want to enable all of the 7 million plus young people of statutory school age to be able to have a world class music education we also need to be encouraging many more of our existing talented young people to consider a career in music. I hope all fellow ISM members will choose to be involved. Why not sign up to the Music Manifesto, engage with the process and help to ensure only the best is made available to our young people. We needyou all!

Richard Hallam has been a member of the ISM since 1969 and was warden of the Music Education Section from 2002-03. He is now the DCSF National Music Participation Director.