A crisis of creativity in music education?

Nov 7, 2019

A ‘crisis of creativity in music education’?  I find that hard to believe – our classrooms are always alive to the sound of children playing music… That’s brilliant, but the issue isn’t playing instruments, it’s composing. 

Ah, OK.  Tell me more… The #CanCompose movement and Sound and Music are worried about the lack of quality composition teaching in schools, as highlighted by the recently published findings of the National Music Educators’ Survey. In the long-term, they worry that this may lead to less new music being created across the nation – a tragedy they are striving to avoid.

Wow – how did we let this happen? The report highlights that currently there is no requirement for hubs to include information on composing activity in their annual returns submitted to Arts Council England. Also, interestingly, the 2011 National Plan for Music Education only uses the word ‘compose’ once, while ‘perform’ or ‘performer’ feature 54 times. The implication that neither funding nor policy bodies place much value on composition clearly isn’t helping to keep it high on schools’ agendas.

Fair enough. We’re keen to help avert the catastrophe – any thoughts on what we should be doing? One suggestion from Sound and Music is to ‘employ or work with someone confident and competent in creative music-making within the school’s music curriculum’. You could also audit your music curriculum with a very specific focus on composition.

Great, but how do I find time to introduce a greater focus on composition when the Christmas nativity and carol concert are on the horizon? We know, but do not fear, there are a couple of interesting resources you can draw on for inspiration:

  1. From the BBC, you have Ten Pieces Trailblazers, a new resource for 4-7 year olds called Bring the Noise, and Class Clips on composition for KS2 children
  2. The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has produced two videos about composing in the primary classroom. One focuses on composition in the primary classroom while the other focuses on the life of a composer

In a nutshell… Get out there and start making music (from scratch!).

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