Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has slammed British cuts to music education. Speaking on Classic FM last year he said “What the government should be grasping is that every penny you spend on music – not to turn people into musicians, but music as an empowering force – comes back to you in tenfold.”
The BBC reported in a March 2017 story titled music could face extinction in secondary schools that Sussex University researchers had found a marked decline in music education provision and participation in Britain. The report authors called for government action “to prevent the further erosion of music in secondary schools, before we lose the subject in some schools for good”.
Webber’s own foundation actively supports school music education, including impressively providing weekly lessons to 6,000 London children. Yet he dismisses his efforts own as a “drop in the ocean”. He told The Stage “I am a passionate believer in the importance of the arts in schools, particularly music, which transcends all languages, shades of politics, race and creeds.”
Meanwhile in France the situation is the reverse. In a joint statement in December, reported in France Musique, the French Ministers for Culture and Education announced a 20 million euro commitment to school music education in that country. The funds will primarily help schools and colleges improve music education with 17 million from the national education budget and the remainder form the Ministry for Culture.
The two ministers announced a choral plan with an ambition to install a choir in all of the 7,100 colleges in France by 2019, up from one in four schools currently. Each college will offer two hours of choir per week to students. Choral Plans established by Jack Lang, a previous Education Minister, will be strengthened, and there is also a commitment to improve music in teacher training.