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January 17, 2007

Minister outlines plans to get schools singing

The Guardian (UK):

A new 10m package to boost music and singing both in and out of the classroom was announced today as part of the government's push to encourage pupils to enjoy music.

The education secretary, Alan Johnson, unveiled the package in response to the music manifesto report, Making Every Child's Music Matter. Mr Johnson named composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall as the singing ambassador who will lead the government's new choral campaign. Speaking at the Roundhouse music venue in London today, Mr Johnson said: "As well as being a worthwhile activity for its own sake - music is a powerful learning tool which can build children's confidence, teamwork and language skills. A better musical education for pupils can also help them hit the right note in their studies."

Mr Johnson said the funding would boost music education, especially school singing, both in and out of school hours.

Schools will be given a "21st century songbook" to provide a top 30 song list for whole school/whole class singing, and teachers and pupils will be invited to nominate and then bid for their favourite material. The national songbook will have a full range of musical genres, from classical to traditional folk to pop.

As part of the package, England's 34 choir schools will also be encouraged to work in partnership with local schools and other music providers to boost local singing.

There will also be a rollout of Music Start programmes to engage parents and young children in music making, and increased investment in training for teachers and music leaders.

A youth service survey conduced last year found that 79% of schools said singing was an important part of school life, and 70% use singing in national curriculum subjects as well as in music.

Mr Johnson said: "Music has a tremendous power to bring people together, can act as powerful social glue and is a great way to engage children in their education. That is why I want to set up a 21st century songbook for schools, containing songs that every child knows and sings, and new material to enhance what schools already use."

The culture minister David Lammy added: "I grew up in a house full of music. All day festivals on Broadwater Farm blended with choral singing in my local church. As a child my head had room for both Bob Marley and John Wesley. Young people embrace music, and today's announcements mean a stronger, more exciting pathway in music for all young people - from toddlers to teens."

Can anybody imagine the US government funding such a program? O how I would love it if just the money spent on one aircraft carrier was instead spent on music education for kids. Why should such a wish seem so absurdly impossible in today's times?

Posted by acapnews at January 17, 2007 12:01 AM