BBC Young Musicians plea for free music lessons for children

The winners of the BBC Young Musician competition unite in a plea for all primary school children to be given free music lessons

This year, the BBC is celebrating 40 years of its Young Musician competition. All of us past winners take great pride in its legacy, which is a part of the musical heritage of this country. We are grateful to the teachers and schools that allowed us the chance to be a part of it.

However, despite some brilliant schemes, we are all deeply concerned that instrumental music learning is being left to decay in many British schools to the point that it could seriously damage the future of music here and jeopardise British music’s hard won worldwide reputation.

Today, we are launching a campaign for every primary school child to be taught to play an instrument, at no cost to them or their families. It is crucial to restore music’s rightful place in children’s lives, not only with all the clear social and educational benefits, but showing them the joy of making and sharing music. We are especially concerned that this should be a universal right. This is an opportunity to show the world that we care about music’s future and its beneficial impact on our children.

The writer Jeanette Winterson has said: “Life has an inside as well as an outside. Playing music is more than recreation; through music children find confidence and happiness unrelated to money or social status. In a world where success is measured by what you can buy, many children feel left out or shut out. Music is inclusive. Music works across culture, across class, across language. It seems to be hard wired into humans. Music is spontaneous, and with some teaching music can enrich children’s lives forever.”

Musical life in the London Borough of Newham could be one example, with their excellent Every Child A Musician scheme. The programme gifts all of their primary school children a free instrument to keep and teaches them how to read and play music in weekly lessons. This at no cost to the children or their families.

We believe that every child deserves to enjoy the benefits of Ecam and other excellent schemes, and their widespread adoption would alleviate many of our current concerns about the future of music in this country. There are cost-effective, efficient and inspiring early-level interventions available, and we call upon the governments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff to join us in making this happen across the whole country.

Nicholas Daniel, Michael Hext, Anna Markland, Emma Johnson, Alan Brind, David Pyatt, Nicola Loud, Freddy Kempf, Natalie Clein, Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne, Adrian Spillett, Guy Johnston, Jennifer Pike, Nicola Benedetti, Mark Simpson, Peter Moore, Lara Ömeroglu, Laura Van der Heijden, Martin James Bartlett, Sheku Kanneh-Mason