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‘Lack of music education in schools widens gap between children’

Lucy Noble, from the Royal Albert Hall, is highlighting a lack of access to music in schools Photo: Philip Toscano/PA

A lack of music education in schools is widening the knowledge gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, an expert has said.

Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director at the Royal Albert Hall, believes those from a more challenging background do not have the same opportunities to get involved in music as their better-off peers.

She also pointed to a lack of education as the reason Britons are more likely to recognise a male composer than a female one.

Ms Noble told the Press Association: “With modern day composers, it needs to start with the grass roots.

“And if people aren’t getting into music and having the music education that they require in the first place, then that in a way comes before the gender equality part.

Lucy Noble said schools need to ‘step up’ to make sure everyone has access to music Credit: Matt Crossick/PA

“So what is happening is this divide being created between people with the knowledge, and who can afford it, being able to give their children access to music.

“But for people who don’t have the know-how or can’t afford to pay for private lessons, and the schools aren’t delivering that really important music education, then what hope have they actually got? The opportunities just aren’t there for them at all.”

Asked whether this was widening the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged, she said “absolutely” and that diversity is a difficult topic.

Ms Noble added: “People who come from a more challenged background – whether that is financial challenges or other challenges – are not going to have the opportunities that the people who are more wealthy and have the opportunities do.”

She said schools need to “step up” to make sure everyone has access to music, but that organisations like the Royal Albert Hall also have a role to play.

Ms Noble said the issues surrounding arts education need to be addressed if gender parity in the industry is to be achieved.

New data released by the Royal Albert Hall indicates the top 10 classical composers most recognised by Brits are male.

Mozart (recognised by 70%), Beethoven (70%) and Bach (60%), topped the list, in a survey of 1,000 adults.

In comparison, women composers had significantly lower recognition, with Fanny Mendelsshon, Clara Schumann and Hildegard von Bingen known to just 30%, 17% and 7%, respectively.

The Hall says the relative lack of awareness around Fanny Mendelsshon’s work may be explained by the fact that much of her music was published under her more famous brother Felix’s name.

Ms Noble said: “History has left us a legacy of great classical composers – Mozart, Bach and Schubert to name a few.

“But we must make sure that young people are exposed to not just these white, male titans, but women, and that those from minority backgrounds are recognised too.”

The Hall offers opportunities off the stage for young women through its apprenticeships programme and Young Producers initiative.

Its education & outreach programme reached more than 215,000 participants last year, working with schools, young people and the community, as well as other charities such as Music for Youth.