Recent polling by ISM/YouGov backs the need to protect music education more than ever before

Wednesday 14 May 2014

New poll shows public backing for access to music lessons

The need to protect music education in the UK has been reinforced by the results of the latest ISM/YouGov polling.

The poll comes as the Department for Education proposes that local authorities stop funding music services. The ending of this funding, which is worth millions of pounds, would seriously put at risk the successful delivery of the Government’s visionary National Plan for Music Education.

The ISM/YouGov poll shows that – of those expressing an opinion – 85% of British adults back Michael Gove’s statement, taken from the foreword of the National Plan for Music, that ‘Music education must not become the preserve of those children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition.’*

[*For full details of the poll, see editor’s notes.]

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM, welcomed the results, saying:

‘We urge those who value music education to sign up to Protect Music Education and respond to the Government’s consultation which proposes that local authorities cease funding music services.

Music is an academic, challenging, creative, technical, vocational, practical and intellectual subject. Access to music education in the UK depends on a delicate balance of funding, the three-legged stool of national, local, and school/parental funding. If you remove one of these, the quality and sustainability of musical opportunities for children is hit.

The National Plan for Music Education has the overwhelming backing of the public and this polling sends a clear message to the Government to get behind its own music education policy and stop this consultation from derailing the National Plan for Music Education.’

The Protect Music Education campaign, supported by musicians Julian Lloyd Webber, Nicola Benedetti MBE, Dame Felicity Lott and Tasmin Little OBE, was stepped up in April 2014 following the publication of a consultation from the DfE where it was proposed that local authorities save money by ceasing funding for music services (and visual and performing arts services) in the UK.

Nicola Benedetti MBE, classical violinist and advocate of music education, said:

‘I can’t quite describe how strongly I feel about the provision of music in schools and I wholeheartedly back the ISM’s campaign to protect music education. It is widely acknowledged that music education can improve numeracy, literacy and social interaction and it deeply confuses and saddens me that we are having to fight so hard to save it. This isn’t an investment into the lives of musicians and artists, but in that of our entire society. This fundamental misunderstanding could cost the soul of this nation dearly.’

Julian Lloyd Webber, cellist and Chair of charity Sistema England, a charity that seeks to change the lives of children and young people through music making said:

‘Without music, life would be an error’ says The National Plan for Music Education, which makes it crazy that it has already slashed funding and is now faced with even further cuts. This consultation must be aborted if we are ever to be able to realise our dream that EVERY child should have access to music’.

Soprano Dame Felicity Lott  said:

'It is hard to believe that now, when there are so many issues in society, that music - the civilising and uniting force which helps with self-confidence, relationships, with all round development, concentration and self-discipline – is a subject that governments still do not deem worth spending money on. I wholly support the ISM’s campaign to protect music education and to remind people of the fundamental value of music.'

Violinist Tasmin Little OBE said:

‘We all know how important music education is to a child’s education and their opportunities in life. If the vision of the National Plan for Music Education is to be seen through, this dedicated investment in music education must be protected from any further reductions. The simple truth is that if this funding is not protected, music services up and down the country will be more vulnerable; children will miss out on having a chance to sing in school, learn to play an instrument and have an excellent music education. What then for our multi-billion pound music economy, which inspires and gives pleasure to millions of people around the globe?’

Expanding on the value of the UK’s music education sector, Deborah Annetts added:

‘Music is academic; it is a challenging, creative, technical, vocational, practical and intellectual subject. It has been shown through a wealth of literature that music education is musically, educationally and economically valuable. There would be a significant impact on the educational wellbeing of many children if music became exclusive to only those who could afford to pay for music tuition.’

For more information about the campaign, visit  

Editor’s notes

*The statement was amended by YouGov for the needs of the survey and read ‘Music education must not become only available to children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition’.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,246 GB adults (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 7 - 8 May 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Key quotes from the foreword to the National Plan for Music Education

In the foreword to the National Plan for Music Education in England, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, said  ‘It is important that music education of high quality is available to as many of them as possible: it must not become the preserve of those children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition.’

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK’s professional body for musicians and subject association for music educators, representing the rights and views of its members and offering a distinctive range of vital services to all working in the music profession. The ISM promotes the art of music and champions the interests of the music profession with an independent voice. Members are protected with an unparalleled legal advice service and many other supporting professional benefits. 

The ISM’s membership of 6,500 includes performers, composers, music educators and music industry professionals. The ISM has over 160 corporate members from across the sector including the Association of British Orchestras, Classic FM, the International Artist Managers’ Association, the Music Industries Association, NMC Recordings, the Royal Philharmonic Society, the Young Classical Artists Trust; publishers such as OUP and Schott Music; and, in the field of education, ABRSM, Trinity College London, Yamaha Music, numerous university music departments and all of the UK conservatoires.

Contact details

For more information contact