What does the ABRSM’s latest report say about music education?

The number of children who can play a musical instrument has risen

Published: September 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music has published a new report on music education.


The survey, released on Monday, asked almost 4,500 music teachers and 3,000 musical learners (both children and adults) about their experience of music education.

With the hope of preventing a decline in music, ABRSM has been systematically investigating the learning, progression and teaching of musical instruments across the UK since 1993.

Since the last report in 1999, the number of people with access to music education appears to have increased, with the percentage of 5-14 year olds who ‘know how to play an instrument’ rising from 41 to 76.

The survey also suggests that traditional orchestral instruments, especially the violin, are now taking a back seat while instruments like the electric guitar are more popular, likely owing to the dominance of pop culture in young lives. Listen to violinist Tasmin Little and guitarist John Etheridge discussing the respective merits of both these instruments below.

Although the report is positive overall, ABRSM have stated that there is still more to do, especially with schools and children of lower classes. Of the 5-17 year olds who have never played an instrument, 40 per cent of children from less affluent backgrounds say that they never had the opportunity to learn.

In his introduction to the report, director of strategic development Lincoln Abbotts has said, ‘while there’s plenty to celebrate, this report shows that there is still much that can be improved upon if the music education sector and policy makers work together.’

Visit: gb.abrsm.org for more information

Lucinda Chaudhuri


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