Music leaders express concern over rapid decline of GCSE music uptake

Over 85 leading figures from the music sector including Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Tasmin Little, Julian Lloyd Webber, Nicola Benedetti and Alison Balsom have written to The Times to express concern over the continuing decline in uptake of music at GCSE.

Published in today’s (24 August) The Times, 90 signatories from across the music sector stated that music is ‘fast becoming the birthright of the elite.’

Figures published yesterday on GCSE results day (23 August) by the Joint Council for Qualifications showed that the uptake of music has declined more than 15% since 2016.

Commenting on these figures, Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians called on the Government to reverse the ‘deeply damaging EBacc policy’.

She said: ‘More than ever we need a comprehensive education policy which will give our students what they need in a post-Brexit, digital world. The EBacc simply isn’t it.

The letter, with full list of signatories (first appeared in The Times, 24 August 2018, reproduced with permission)

Sir, Music should be the birthright of every child but it is fast becoming the preserve of the elite. As yesterday’s GCSE results show, the uptake of music at GCSE has fallen dramatically — down more than 15 per cent in two years. The EBacc continues to damage not only the take up of music at GCSE but also at Key Stage 3. Even the government’s own figures show the damage the EBacc is having on music and other creative subjects.

And yet we know that music is a vital part of an education. It provides knowledge, skills and problem-solving abilities that play a significant role in all children’s development. It is central to our cultural life, a key driver of economic growth, and gives our children the tools to navigate a fast changing digital world. Hence we urge the government to reverse its EBacc policy and take action now to keep music in our schools.

Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director, Royal Opera House; Sir Simon Rattle OM CBE, Conductor; Tasmin Little OBE FGSM Hon RAM ARCM (hons) Hon DLitt Hon DMus, International Violinist; Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire; Nicola Benedetti MBE, International Violinist; Alison Balsom OBE, International Trumpet Soloist; Mark-Anthony Turnage CBE, Composer; Kathryn McDowell CBE, Managing Director, LSO; Sir James MacMillan CBE, Conductor, Young Composer Mentor, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director, The Cumnock Tryst; John Wilson, Conductor, Arranger and Musicologist; Edward Gardner OBE, Conductor; Debbie Wiseman OBE, Composer and Conductor; Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Baritone, Chancellor of Durham University; Dame Sarah Connelly DBE, Mezzo-Soprano; Bramwell Tovey OC OM, Grammy and Juno award-winning conductor and composer, Music Director Emeritus, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Professor Linda Merrick, PhD, MMus, GRSM (Hons), FRNCM, FRAM, FLCM, FHEA, FRSA, HonVCM, Principal, Royal Northern College of Music; Professor Colin Lawson CBE FRCM, Principal, Royal College of Music; Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, FRNCM, FRCM, Principal, Royal Academy of Music; Professor Gavin Henderson CBE Hon FRCM, FRNCM, Principal, Royal Central School of Speech & Drama; Sir Mark Featherstone-Witty OBE, Founding Principal and Chief Executive, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts; Suzi Digby (Lady Eatwell) OBE Hon DMus, Founder of The Voices Foundation, Visiting Professor, University of Southern California; Stuart Worden, Principal, The BRIT School; Dame Felicity Lott DBE FRAM FRCM, Soprano; Jeremy Sams, Director, Writer and Composer; Jennifer Pike, MA (Oxon), MPerf, International Violinist; Nitin Sawhney, Musician, Producer and Composer; Myleene Klass ARAM, Musician, Broadcaster; Professor Sir Barry Ife CBE, Former Principal & Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Guildhall School of Music & Drama; Professor Paul Max Edlin, DPhilSussex ARCM(TrumpetT) DipRCM(Comp), Director of Music, Queen Mary University of London; James Murphy, Chief Executive, Royal Philharmonic Society; Dr Pauline Adams, Former Teacher Educator and Lecturer, Institute of Education, UCL; James Ainscough, Interim CEO, Help Musicians UK; Professor Rachel Cowgill BMus(Hons) MMus PhD (London) PGCLTHE FHEA FRSA FRHistS, Professor of Musicology and Head of Music & Drama, University of Huddersfield, Vice-Chair of the National Association for Music in Higher Education, Former Vice-President of the Royal Musical Association; Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; Roderick Williams OBE, Baritone and Composer; Sir Willard White OM CBE, Operatic Bass Baritone; Sir James Galway, International Flautist; Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians; David Beeby W BMus FRCO(DipCHM) LRAM, Head of Music Department, Poole Grammar School; Professor John Bryan, BA BPhil DMus FHEA, Former Head of Department, Music & Drama, University of Huddersfield, Founder of York Early Music Festival and Chair of the Viola da Gamba Society; Dr Marius J. Carboni, MALond BAHuddersfieldPoly, Senior Lecturer in Music Business and Entrepreneurship, University of Hertfordshire and City University; Dr Michelle Castelletti, FRSA PhD MMus BA(Hons) DipSacMus, Conductor, Composer, Director of Oxford Festival of the Arts, Governor on the Board of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama; Dr Sally Cathcart, PhD MA BA(hons), Director & co-founder, The Curious Piano Teachers; Dr Esther Cavett, BMus PhD(Music) LRAM ARAM, Senior Research Fellow in Music, King’s College, London, Past Deputy Chair of Governors, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; Neil Chippington, MA Cantab, MEd Buckingham, FRCO, Choir Schools’ Association Chairman 2018-2020; Nicolas Chisholm, MBE MA(Cantab), former Headmaster, The Yehudi Menuhin School; Hester Cockcroft, BA MA, Chief Executive, Awards for Young Musicians; Peter Cook, FISM FLCM FVCM PGCE, Former Director, LCM Junior Department; Dr Geoffrey Cox, PhD BMus, Senior Lecturer, Department of Music and Drama, University of Huddersfield; Jane Cutler, CTCL LTCL, Principal, The DaCapo Music Foundation; Professor Nicholas Daniel, Queens Medal for Music, Every Child A Musician, Oboist, Conductor, Artistic Director, Leicester International Music Festival; Jay Deeble, FISM MA BA(Hons) PGCE, Past Chair, Schools Music Association, Initial Teacher trainer (primary); Kirsty Devaney BMus(Hons) PGCert HonRBC, Composer; Professor Peter Dickinson, composer, writer and pianist; Beverley Downes, DipTCL CertEd, Choral Animateur, Norfolk Music Service, Workshop Leader, Trinity Guildhall/OU Whole Class Instrumental and Vocal Teaching programme; Leslie East, OBE, Chair, Association of British Choral Directors; Barry Eaton, GTCL FTCL LRAM ARCM ARCO, Merton Music Foundation and Kingston Music Service; Professor Martin Fautley, PhD MPhil MA PGDip BA(Hons) CertED PFHEA, Director of Research in Education, Birmingham City University; Barbara R-D Fisher, OBE ARAM GRSM FRSA, Vice President, The Yehudi Menuhin School; Ivor Flint, ALCM LLCM(TD) FISM, Lead Tutor, London College of Music; Trevor Ford, FRSCM ARAM HonRCM HonRCO FISM FRSA DipRAM, Director, Scratch Concerts Limited; Judith Glossop, MusB (Hons) LTCL MMus PGCE Joint Head of Service, Waltham Forest Music Service; Professor Stephen Goss, PhD, MMus, BA (Hons), LRAM, ARAM, FRAM, Composer, Professor of Composition in the Department of Music and Media, University of Surrey, Director of the International Guitar Research Centre; Richard J Hallam MBE, Chair of Music Education Council; Fran Hannan, BA (Hons) PGCE, Managing Director, Musical Futures; Dr Jan Herbst, PhD MA MEd MAES PGCHE FHEA, Lecturer in Music Production, Head of Musicology, University of Huddersfield; Andrew Higgins, Director of Sales & Marketing, Alfred Publishing Co (UK) Ltd; Susan Hollingworth, GRSM ARMCM(SgT) DipRAM, Choral Director, Winner of Choir of The Year, Music Educator; Paul Hoskins, MA(Cantab), Music Director, Rambert; Alexander Van Ingen, Chief Executive, Academy of Ancient Music; Paul Kirkham, Chief Executive, Institute of Contemporary Music Performance; Steven Kohut, CTABRSM, Musician and Teacher, former member of the Grenadier Guards Band, former Principle Percussionist, Grimethorpe Colliery Band; Emma Lines, BMus(Edin), Senior Programme Manager, Drake Music Scotland; Karl Lutchmayer, FHEA FISM MMus ARCM(PG) DipRCM ALCM, Concert Pianist and Lecturer; Lucinda Mackworth-Young, MA(PsychEd) DipEd GTCL LTCL, International Lecturer, Pianist & Teacher; David Marcou, Chair, Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership Trust, add Chair of Governors, Icknield Community College and former Chairman, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Dominic McGonigal, Chair, C8 Associates; Dr David Milsom, BMus(Hons) MMus PhD FHEA FISM, Senior Lecturer in Music, Department of Music and Drama, University of Huddersfield; Mary Mycroft, BA(Hons) QTS Joint Head of Service, Waltham Forest Music Service; Sue Nicholls, CertEd, Honorary Fellow BGU, Music Education Consultant; Chris O’Reilly, BMus MMus, CEO, Presto Classical; Elizabeth Partridge, LTCL(V), Violinist; Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive Association of British Orchestras; Peter Renshaw, Former Principal, The Yehudi Menuhin School; Thomas Schmidt, Dean of Music, Humanities and Media, Professor of Musicology, University of Huddersfield; Ed Scolding, MMus LRAM, Director, Greenwich Music School; Paul Smith, BSc, Choir Schools’ Association Chairman 2016-2018; John Stephens, OBE MASoton HonFTCL LRAM(SchMus/VoiceCult/AuTr) ARCM(SchMus) ARCO, former HMI; Dr Laurie Stras, GRSM ARCM PhD, Research Professor of Music, University of Huddersfield, Professor Emerita of Music, University of Southampton; Susan Sturrock, BMusHonsRCM, former Director of Communications, Royal College of Music, Director/Producer, Music Talks; Kim S Waldock, BMusEd M Ed CA FCCT, Music Education Consultant; David Ward, Executive Director, JAMES; Stuart Whatmore, BMus(Hons) PGDip(Perf) PGCE, Head, Tri-borough Music Hub; Dennis Wickens, BMus(Lond), former County Music Adviser to two LEA’s; John Woolf, MBE, Hon FRAM Hon RCM, Director, Park Lane Group Music Trust