The EIS released its Charter for Instrumental Music on the 28th December 2008.
“The EIS believes that every child should have the right to learn to play a music instrument and to develop their ability to sing. Developing an understanding of music is beneficial to pupils in many ways, and can have a profound effect on the personal and social development of children. Through instrumental music instruction, pupils can learn how to work both as an individual and as part of a larger group. This can have a positive effect on their social skills and on their self-confidence and overall personal development. Learning to make music allows pupils to take pride in their accomplishments and provides them with skills that will be applicable to many other areas of their everyday lives both now and in the future.”
In a very worthy document the EIS stress the importance of Instrumental instruction. I have previously explored the importance of what can sometimes be termed as “peripheral” educational activities in relation to core activities. It was John Connell who came up with the term “inverting the core” , i.e. placing activities such as music, drama, sport, outdoor education, dance, at the centre of a young person’s school experience – and I would subscribe to that perspective.
Yet with the challenge facing public services of a 15% budget cut over the next three years I really fear for the place of any activities which are not perceived to be central to the traditional “educational” experience. Tha’s why I was pleased to see the EIS making such a strong stance on instrumental music. Of course I would go further and promote the place of every “life enriching” activity in a similar way.
There is of course a big “BUT” here – how do you take 15% out of a budget and at the same time argue that everything is sacrosanct?
I think we all have a responsibility to engage with the reality of the financial situation facing us and not just inhabit the moral higher ground and promote everything as a priority – regardless of cost. It’s only through such collective problem solving that we can get through this is a way which does not set us back 30 years.