Calls for more free music lessons as learning an instrument becomes more expensive

As school budgets tighten, music lessons are disappearing from curriculums - meaning learning an instrument could soon become a hobby only for the rich. 

Lessons are vital for children to be taught music, whether that's on the drums, the piano, or by singing.

But, a recent Ofsted report found instrumental music lessons are being dropped from timetables as schools try to balance their budgets - which means parents are having to pay to go private. But each lesson costs around £40.

Music lesson at a high school in Southampton Credit: ITV News

‘That’s a tragedy,’ one industry leader describes the impact of fewer lessons

Chris Walters, from the Musicians’ Union, said: “We're letting ourselves drift into a place where music is something that you have to be able to be well-off to afford, and that's a tragedy because we need to see a diversity of people moving up into the music industry.”

Chris added: “It can't just be all about people who've been able to pay, people in private education.

“The reason that the UK's music industry is such a success story for us internationally is because we've got such a broad range of people in it and we really need to invest in that to keep it going.”

The Department for Education said it has introduced a new national plan asking schools to teach music for at least an hour a week for five-to-14 years olds - adding it’s spending £79 million a year on Music Hubs and introducing a £10,000 tax-free bursary for trainee music teachers.

Free music lesson taking place at Hemmingwell Community and Skills Centre Credit: ITV News

But, it’s often being left to organisations, like The Compound Wellingborough CiC community hub, which run free evening classes, to give the next generation a voice.

Danisha Antens, an aspiring rapper who takes up the lessons, said: “I've got ASD, which is Autism Syndrome, and I find it quite difficult to get my music out there and for people to understand me, that's why I wrote a song about autism for people to know that you're not alone."

She continued: “You can come here, be yourself, you don't have to worry about teachers saying, oh, you have like 10 minutes left.”

Reuben Harris speaking to ITV News Credit: ITV News

Music producer Reuben Harris said the lessons are about more than just the music.

“A lot of times it can almost be a form of therapy for them because we can go through different elements of what they're going through. Every story's individual, every young person's unique.”

But just like in schools, community projects also come at a cost - and in some areas it's not easy to secure funding.

Kam Parmar, a mentor at The Compound, said: “Funding is a massive issue to help run the sessions up and down the country, with the cuts, the cost of living, energy bills, everything like that - people are struggling, so a lot of people are marginalised, especially in certain areas, so they don't have access to these kinds of provisions.”

As schools and charities try and bridge the gap in the arts, it’s hoped more free lessons will only help create another generation of musical maestros.

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