Discover why music education in schools is important under the National Plan for Music Education, with benefits and actions your school can take this year.
Whether for wellbeing, community, creativity or profession, the significance of music in our society needs no explanation.
Music is a vital subject in the curriculum, and with the refreshed National Plan for Music Education (NPME) putting a bigger emphasis on the importance of broader music education, schools in England must make the necessary adjustments to deliver high-quality lessons.
In this piece, we discuss this new 85-page document and discuss why music education in schools is so important and how your school can do more this year.
The Power of Music to Change Lives
In contributing over £4 billion to the UK economy in 2021, the UK music industry is the second-largest in the world (2nd to the USA).
And with employment figures in the sector rising by 14%, there are still plenty of opportunities for people to start a music career.
Interestingly, last year, these figures appeared to be levelling out.
In reaction to these statistics, the Government released the latest National Plan for Music Education (NPME) in 2022, entitled ‘The power of music to change lives’.
Much has changed since the initial NPME in 2011. With reforms to the curriculum and qualifications alongside renewed support for teachers, schools, and trusts to adopt music as an essential part of their education, musical education appears much healthier with optimism for the future.
These NPME changes for music education include:
- Music to be represented in school leadership structures, such as a designated music lead or head of department.
- All schools to compose a music development plan.
- A music progression fund to support disadvantaged pupils.
- Music hubs to partner lead schools and academies.
- Established national music hub centres of excellence to involve CPD, music technology and industry pathways.
- All music hubs will include an inclusion strategy and an inclusion lead by 2024.
We believe this NPME incentive can revitalise music education and develop dynamic partnerships for pupils to receive a higher-quality education that can feed careers, create musicians and encourage more engaged audiences in the future.
The Benefits of Teaching Music in Schools
With the power to transform lives, music has no better place than in our classrooms.
But if you need a reminder of the importance of music for young people and educational communities, here are just some of the benefits:
Improved Personal and Collective Wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing have become a crucial topic in schools and colleges, with the Government promoting its significance with a programme of guidance in 2021 – ‘Promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges.’
A great way to support this wellbeing incentive is through the power of music. Children who identify with music and struggle to express themselves with words can use music within a safe and respectful space.
When listening to music, research has seen blood flow improve, reduced heart rates and cortisol levels, lowered blood pressure and increased serotonin and endorphin levels.
Music can be so beneficial to wellbeing that it has become an established clinical therapy, treating people struggling with depression and anxiety. While further studies from the University of East Anglia reveal that group singing can increase happiness.
So, by bringing more music into our school settings, we can begin to build a positive, calm and happy atmosphere for our kids with the opportunity to engage with this essential academic subject.
Build a Better Community
From an individual level to the collective, music helps students, teachers and the wider community become part of something positive. It brings belonging to our schools, especially for some children who may struggle to fit in.
By synchronising our bodies and brains, music creates a group identity with collective partnerships and positive associations with group members.
Even in the face of the pandemic, we witnessed how the need for music never wavered from the greater community, with remote performances still able to bind people together virtually despite the lockdown restrictions.
Boosts Self-Confidence and Belief
The ability of music to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin means it creates positive experiences. So, combining creativity and application to these experiences, such as performing, dancing, or playing, can significantly boost pupils’ self-confidence.
These personal benefits can be rewarded academically in higher education opportunities in music, personally with instrumental/vocal lessons and with extracurricular activities such as music events, performances, and concerts.
Whether engaging in a music lesson as a group or performing on stage, the capability to become immersed in the sounds and energy can reward individuals with renewed confidence to feel part of something positive and express themselves alongside learning and gaining an education in music.
Establish Identity and Purpose
With all the distractions and possibilities, school can be a difficult place for young people. But music can be a great gateway to help young people identify with the things they like.
Because of the numerous genres and opportunities, everyone can share their ideas, verify their feelings, and feel accepted with a profound connection to each other and the bigger picture.
On some level or another, many children will suffer an identity crisis at school as they define their values and understand their relationship with the world. Therefore, music can provide a positive pathway to enlightenment and self-awareness without stress and confusion.
That pathway to identity can include music education as an academic subject to master in life while rewarding the individual with a fulfilling and exciting career.
What You Can Do to Prioritise Music
Music is an incredibly effective way of helping children learn at the earliest possible age.
Schools should be encouraged to offer music development and learning from early years and enable music development to enrich learning styles before becoming an academic subject in later years.
How to Elevate Music Lessons in Schools
While babies should be exposed to music soon after birth to help speed up speaking skills and understand complex language concepts, schools should be encouraged to provide their early years children with group sessions that can help support language development, memory, listening and attention skills.
Charanga offers a complete scheme to teach the national curriculum for music with a vast song and genre library with in-depth support and personalised training for teachers. We recommend exploring the ’Charanga’ online music resources, especially for schools.
As children develop and become more established with music, providing individual or small group instrumental or vocal lessons will help them receive the time and support they need to flourish.
Make Music a Daily Thing
The beauty of music is that it can fit into every aspect of school life, as well as dedicated music lessons.
From assembly singing in the morning to drama musicals and memory songs for classroom learning, music enriches learning while being a vital and unique academic pathway.
Here are a few tips to include more music into the school day, in addition to curriculum music lessons:
- Sing educational songs in the classroom to increase learning.
- Sing songs in assembly to encourage unity and belonging with your school values and principles.
- Play relaxing background music to create a positive and calm atmosphere.
- Use musicals and plays to rehearse and perform music.
Alongside distinguished music lessons, by bringing music into your daily culture at school, you will see the benefits and support other types of learning across all subjects.
Under the new and updated NPME (2022) and with greater collaboration between music education hubs, the future of music education looks much more positive.
Here at SFE, we can support music education incentives with professional learning resources and by connecting professional learning communities.
To find more insights and music resources for your school, explore our website and get in touch if you have any questions.