New research calls for initiatives to offer young people the benefits of music regardless of their background
A new report published this week by the Social Mobility Commission highlights the link between children’s socioeconomic backgrounds and their access to extra-curricular activities including music, and how this access improves their social mobility. Among its recommendations the report calls for voluntary sector initiatives to provide children from less affluent backgrounds with access to music education.
The research reinforces the vision and goals behind HarrisonParrott’s new Foundation, which launches in October with the aim of making access to classical music fairer and more inclusive through partnerships with Tri-borough Music Hub and Creative Access. As part of the Foundation’s programme, HarrisonParrott artists will visit schools where pupils come from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds, and perform for and work with these students. For many of the young people, this will be the first time they’ve come into direct contact with musicians and live music.
Data from four different secondary schools, as well as previous studies, led the researchers to four main conclusions:
1) Extra-curricular activities are important to young people and result in a range of positive outcomes
2) Opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities are unequally distributed
3) Employers in the UK labour market increasing demand soft skills – and these types of skills (which may be developed via extra-curricular activities) could be an important factor in driving intergenerational social mobility
4) New programmes and initiatives are required to widen opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities
The report shows that extra-curricular activities such as music support young people both within and beyond the classroom, a point made by saxophonist Jess Gillam, a Trustee of the HarrisonParrott Foundation: ‘Music is seen as an add-on in schools and is side-lined early on. To me it should be an integral part of any education. Music is one of the most demanding and inspirational subjects and there is so much to take from it, aside from the mechanics of learning an instrument. It can enrich so many other parts of a child’s life, teaching them cooperation, resilience, determination, communication and interaction.’
Lorna Aizlewood, Chief Operating Officer of HarrisonParrott, explained the motivation for setting up the Foundation: ‘As an artist management agency looking to the future in our 50th anniversary year, we are very much focused on the issue of diversity and inclusion in classical music – not just from the pragmatic point of view of developing our audiences, but also from the moral standpoint of making our world fairer. This new research shows that our thinking has an empirical basis and emphasises the importance of finding new ways to integrate music into the lives of all young people, irrespective of background or social status. We look forward to playing our part in addressing this need and developing our plans for the Foundation with this in mind.’
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