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First ever Music Commission launches to support music learning routes

2 years ago

A new Music Commission - the first of its kind in the UK - created to carry out a fundamental review of how to support progression in music learning, is being launched today.

The Music Commission has been launched by ABRSM, the leading UK-based charity providing graded music exams and support to teachers and learners around the world, with backing from Arts Council England. Chaired by Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican Centre, the Commission will bring together a panel of experts including performers, academics, educators and sector experts.

Recent research has shown that:

  • 77% of 8-10 year olds currently play an instrument
  • By the time a young person is 16, 61% of them have stopped taking music lessons
  • 45% of teachers who saw a decrease in numbers of music students think cost is a key factor
  • 66% of children first learn to play an instrument at school.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon said:

“We have incredibly talented young people for whom music is a key part of their lives. We want to encourage them to build on their creativity and continue to engage with music. There are tremendous music initiatives out there, many thousands of committed teachers and superb resources available. So why as young people move into adulthood does this become more difficult for them?

“We know the clear benefits music provides to learners’ confidence and educational attainment, as well as to society and the economy. This Commission will not be about proving that case again – it will be about exploring the best ways to encourage talented young people to move forward.

“Our job will be to make sense of what’s going on and look for the best ideas – not just in the UK but around the world – and make proposals that can give everyone, whatever their ability or background, the best possible support to take forward their musical interests.”

The Music Commission has four main aims:

  • Provide evidence for the diversity of music education provision and achievement
  • Understand progression in music learning in and out of schools
  • Articulate the need for all young people to have the best opportunities and conditions to learn a musical instrument
  • Identify solutions to tackle the problems and barriers learners face in their musical development.

The fill list of panel members will be announced ahead of The Music Commission’s first meeting in September. The panel members currently confirmed are:

  • Abel Selaocoe – Cellist, collaborating across genres, winner of the Standard Bank Young Artists Award 2016/2017, winner of RNCM Gold Medal
  • Carolyn Baxendale - Head of Bolton Music Service and leading the Greater Manchester Music Hub
  • Claire Whitaker, OBE - Director of live music producers, Serious, and the EFG London Jazz Festival
  • Hasan Bakhshi - Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, NESTA
  • Pamela Burnard - Professor of Arts, Creativities and Education at the University of Cambridge
  • Paul Roberts, OBE - Chair of the Innovation Unit, Chair of Nottingham Music Education Hub.

In addition to a panel of experts, The Music Commission is backed by an academic reference group of international experts. The Music Commission panel will meet throughout 2017 and 2018, with its final report expected to be published in September 2018. It will commission research, seek submissions from organisations working in music education, host evidence sessions and events as well as conducting surveys open to anyone with an interest in learning or teaching music. It is expected that The Music Commission will gather the largest body of evidence to date on progression in music learning. Information about The Music Commission and ways to get involved are on its website: which will be live from Friday 7 July.

The Music Commission is being launched today, July 7, at ABRSM’s Shine event to celebrate music and music education from around the world, at the Barbican Centre.



Notes to editors:

Sir Nicholas Kenyon will be available for interview prior to the launch of The Music Commission for pre-recorded interviews and on the day of launch at The Barbican Centre.

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact:

Daniel Harris or Jon Flinn on: 07989 309058 or 0151 709 0505

[email protected]

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