Why don’t young people listen to classical music?

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“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”
(Charles Dickens, Hard Times)

This is the excellent question asked by Tom Service in the Guardian today. (There is a link to his blog from this article.)

Ever since the National Curriculum came in and made education a commodity to be bought and it prioritized and compartmentalized subjects and topics into Gradgrind’s “Facts” the majority of children have been short-changed and neglected. Music is just one subject (for me one of the most vital ones) that have gone down the pan in the last 30 years.

I hope that this article is read by ministers and former ministers on both sides of the Houses of Parliament who must hang their heads in shame.

What Tom Service points out which rarely gets any publicity in British education is that some countries have had very successful education systems particularly in music. Our powers that be always ignore the good work done in Finland, Sweden, Hungary, etc., and instead try to invent something new from scratch. British education is a patchwork quilt assembled by too many committees.

If the Arts were taught properly from the child’s entry and the momentum maintained until 16 or 18 years old we would see a natural demand being created for something which, at present, the system makes elitist.

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2 Responses to “Why don’t young people listen to classical music?”

  1. I love Classical music, and was blessed to go to a public school with a strong music program. It truly is so important.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I’d like to point out that there is outstandingly good work with children carried out by all the major orchestras (for example the BBC Philharmonic in Salford), especially when the musicians come to the schools. But sadly it is so thinly spread. We depend on the whims of the head teacher and the school governors. If it costs money from the school budgets they are not going to rush to take advantage of orchestral programmes, theatre in education and the rest of it. In the case of the BBC Philharmonic, there was naked hostility from local people to the idea that Salford City Council should be giving their money to an orchestra.

    Also, there are not enough schemes to go around all of the schools and when they do it requires specially trained teachers to keep up the head of steam after the musicians move on.

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