The power of music to change lives

18 July 2022

Francesca Christmas, Trinity College London’s Director, Music shares her response to the new National Plan for Music Education.

With the publication of the new National Plan for Music Education, we are delighted to see the government has reiterated a formal commitment to music and recognises its importance in the curriculum and beyond. We wholeheartedly agree that music isn’t ‘a means to an end; it is also an end in itself’ and that it should not be the ‘preserve of the privileged few’. Putting schools at the heart of the plan is therefore welcome, as this is the one place that all children and young people can enjoy and benefit from a universal right to music education.

The title given to the plan resonates strongly with Trinity’s belief in the transformative power of communication and performance. Music can be life-changing, undoubtedly. But it is important to recognise that it is not simply music itself that changes lives, it is the agency of young people who are empowered through music to make those changes for themselves. Our research and direct work with teachers and young people around the world has shown us time and again that the provision of high-quality, innovative and creative music making opportunities, available to as wide an audience as possible, opens doors for music learners, enabling young people to change their own lives and those around them.

We welcome the new emphases that have been placed on key aspects of the musical education landscape such as early years provision, diversity, access and inclusion and self-directed learning. We look forward to the plan driving the realignment of these into the core of music education rather than perhaps being addressed through working groups and projects that can so often sit on the periphery and struggle to break-through with meaningful impact.

As an organisation, we have committed ourselves this year to challenging many of the structural and cultural barriers that we know exist in music assessment. We are providing assessments that will open-up many more opportunities for children and young people to have access to formal qualifications and experience life-changing outcomes. For the first time ever, young people with learning difficulties across the whole spectrum of needs and abilities will be able to realise their full musical potential and achieve a regulated qualification in music through our brand new Awards and Certificates in Musical Development. This qualification has been developed in collaboration with Sounds of Intent, one of the resources being recommended by the DfE in the new plan. And to better reflect the real-world of music performance, where it is so often a community-based activity experienced with other people in bands and ensembles, we have the Music Performance in Bands qualification. These qualifications are designed to also recognise and promote the expertise of the teachers themselves.

Our Digital Grades and Diplomas offer will also see some significant and exciting  developments over the next 6-12 months that will increase their accessibility  and relevance to a broader range of teachers and learners.

We look forward to working hand-in-hand with a diverse range of schools and education providers to realise the ambitions of the National Plan for Music Education; collaborating to enable all children and young people to be empowered through high-quality, innovative and creative music education.


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