In my previous blog (scroll down), a keynote address at Newcastle University, I noted the recent expansion of sponsorship and philanthropic support of music education in our schools. Of course, I have little idea of the extent of this, only some knowledge of high-profile examples. I suggested that while such cases provide shining lights of what music in the school is capable of, this trend simply underlines and exacerbates inequalities of provision. The shining examples are ready to hand for government to point to as the way forward. Is this the way forward?
Well, it would be perverse to prohibit any form of sponsorship or philanthropic support. However, such support should stimulate some kind of reflection within the music education sector, shouldn’t it?
Understanding this trend involves understanding the fragmentation and quasi-marketisation of the education system and which is ultimately hostile to a national system of music education where there would be some semblance of ‘one equal music’.
Here I am thinking of equality of provision as an entitlement for all children and young people having access to a regular encounter with music making and thinking until the age of 14 as part of a general education. This would require attention to the education and training of new music teachers where there is currently a deficit. It would require serious attention to what the idea of a broad and balanced curriculum implies and calls for. It would require some release from a performance-based, instrumentalised education policy.