Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Music education is a fundamentally important aspect of the national curriculum, yet music and other arts subjects are usually the first to be dropped in schools across the nation, due to a lack of funding and resources. From an outside point of view, music and the arts may appear to some as just a fun hobby or even as a waste of time. But involvement in music and arts education is so much more than just having a sing-song or messing around with some instruments.
I was lucky enough to attend schools from primary to post-16 level, which had extensive, accessible, and dedicated programs in music and the arts. In many schools, students aren’t given the opportunity to tap into the benefits of music education, with a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education stating that over half of state secondary schools in England no longer teach music.
This is a huge problem. Music is an integral element in the development of young people. Involvement in music creates more socially adaptive people, teaches discipline, builds confidence, and improves important study skills, such as memorisation and pattern recognition. It has been scientifically proven that students involved in music education generally perform better in standard subject exams than their peers who aren’t involved in music.
Music isn’t only food for the brain, but it also works to improve stress and anxiety, build confidence, and increase overall happiness. In Year 12, when I was having a particularly difficult time, I turned to music and started learning to play the guitar – something I’d always wanted to do. I ended up drunkenly buying myself a guitar a few months later, and to this day it’s something I lean on when I’m having a particularly bad day. I get a sense of fulfilment when I’m learning a new song, and the process as well as the music I create, makes me happier than I was before.
This isn’t surprising, and if it is to you, then maybe you’ve been listening to the wrong type of music for your whole life. Everyone knows how deeply emotion and music are interconnected. Whatever emotion you’re feeling, there’s a song that will reflect that and make you feel less alone in whatever space you find yourself in, whether you need a something to celebrate to, or something to listen to whilst you cry in the shower. Music is there for all of it.
The teaching of music and other arts subjects in schools is profoundly important. Music and the arts transformed my school years from something mildly enjoyable, to a time that I now look back on happily, with my fondest memories taking place in the music and drama departments. Music helps create better students, and there are so many positive examples of this, that it seems ludicrous that some schools think music and the arts should be the first subjects cut from their curriculum. But, regardless of all the facts and science to show how music education creates better students, above all else, music connects people.
Music transcends social barriers and opens you up to a community of people you may never have had the chance to interact with otherwise. Some of my greatest and strongest friendships were made through my involvement in music and the arts. I can’t say for sure that I would have formed such great bonds with them, if we hadn’t spent 6 months doing vocal warm-ups, perfecting lyrics, and spending hours upon hours learning choreography together.
So, if you still don’t think music education and the arts should be saved for the undeniable educational benefits they present, then I hope you would at least see how valuable they are in bringing happiness and community to the lives of young people nationwide.