Music Manifesto

The Music Manifesto campaigns to ensure that all children and young people have access to high quality music education. It is based on five key aims

To provide every young person with first access to a range of music experiences

Music is part of young people's lives from their earliest days: they are surrounded by music in their homes and nursery schools; they hear music played on CDs, the television and radio.

For some, there are also opportunities to make their own music during the Foundation Stage of their schooling or through projects such as Sure Start and Youth Music's First Steps programme.

For many young children their first active engagement with music-making will be through the statutory National Curriculum and its delivery in schools. The National Curriculum entitles all children aged 5-14 to a music education which includes opportunities to play musical instruments, to sing, to listen and appraise, to compose and perform.

To deliver a sound foundation for music education we are committed to the following priorities that will support and build upon early years activities:

  • We believe that, over time, every primary school child should have opportunities for sustained and progressive instrumental tuition, offered free of charge or at a reduced rate. The OFSTED report,'Tuning In', on the Wider Opportunities pilots, provides first class models of delivery
  • As part of their statutory entitlement in schools, we believe that every child, including those with special needs, should have access to a wide range of high quality live music experiences and a sound foundation in general musicianship
  • We are committed to broadening the range and skills of teachers, support staff, artists and other adults so that they are able to work more effectively as music leaders in schools and in community and youth settings
  • We believe that a rich mix of teaching methods, genres and musical activities must be provided, both in and out of school hours
  • We will support the development of new partnerships between schools, LEAs and LEA Music Services, the community music sector and the music industry to ensure that this rich diversity of provision is available to all
To provide more opportunities for young people to broaden their musical interests and skills

Having captured their imaginations in the early years, it is vital that young people are able to build on their previous achievements and to access the support they need to broaden and deepen their interests and skills.

For this to happen, the right 'pathways for progression' must be in place - and clearly signposted. The pathways must be multiple and flexible, accessible to all and take in a diverse range of musical styles. They must cover the full spectrum of involvement; from joining choirs and ensembles to attending live performances and gigs, and, for some, taking up music qualifications and building towards careers in composition, performance, teaching and music production. We see the following as priorities for broadening young people's musical interest and skills:

  • We will promote effective curriculum delivery for music throughout secondary schools, building on what is being developed in Key Stages 1 and 2 and including the flexible use of time, space and teaching methods
  • We will capitalise on the potential of Further and Higher Education Institutions, and of the more than 200 Specialist Schools in Performing Arts and Music, to act as future centres of excellence in music education
  • We will identify new opportunities for young people to create, record and promote their own music, complemented by effective copyright education and support for live performance
  • We will exploit the power of new technology and broadcast media to bring music and music-making into even more schools, community settings and homes
  • We will identify peer and adult role models for young musicians and continue to build stronger connections between young people's own music-making and that experienced in schools
  • We will think creatively about ways young people can access the space, time, guidance and equipment they need to fulfil their potential - including making the best use of local authority spaces, recording spaces, extended schools, community centres and commercial performance venues
  • We will signpost young people who want to develop their involvement in music towards the opportunities available through school, youth arts organisations, the music industry and others; and advise them about potential career paths in music
  • We will ensure that all young people have access to a range of appropriate accreditation and recognition schemes in music and the arts, from grade exams through to the new national arts award.
To identify and nurture our most talented young musicians

We want all young people to develop a music habit they will sustain throughout their lives.

For some, however, music will be more than a hobby, it will be a career. We need to ensure that our most talented young musicians are given all the support and tuition they need to fulfil their potential.

Over the next five years an extension of the Music and Dance Scheme programme will provide opportunities for greater numbers of talented young musicians to prepare for a career in music.

This extension will be supported by a new national scholarship award for the exceptionally talented in music. The Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will continue to support the National Youth Music Organisations.

Building on this work we believe the following to be priorities:

  • We will work together to ensure that all young musicians who wish to pursue their music-making as a career have access to high level tuition and appropriate regional and national opportunities to develop their talent
  • We will explore the potential for developing meaningful apprenticeships with professional music organisations and industry bodies
  • We will forge stronger links between Conservatoires, other Higher and Further Education Institutions specialising in music, schools and the music industry to ensure that young musicians are equipped with the skills they need to prosper in the world of work
To develop a world class workforce in music education

Quality music provision depends on having a strong workforce. Many people - school teachers, community musicians, orchestral players and instrumental teachers - are already involved in helping to develop young people's musical interest and skills.

But there is more that can be done, especially in encouraging the different agencies and individuals involved to work and learn more closely together and from each other.

Contractual changes over the next three years will mean significant development in the ways teachers work and in the role of paraprofessional support staff in schools. Our goal is to maintain and improve quality in the teaching workforce by increasing the intake of quality teachers, developing an even broader specialist support network, and improving training opportunities and career progression for all.

Working together we will create a music education system where:

  • Ongoing, high quality continuing professional development is available to classroom teachers, support staff, LEA Music Services and community musicians and delivered locally, regionally or nationally
  • Young people are supported by a wide range of teachers, music leaders and other adults, and encouraged to consider and seek advice on making a career in music
  • Teachers and music leaders work collaboratively together across schools and with other professionals
  • Classroom teachers are supported in their use of ICT and music technology in their teaching and learning
  • Schools work in collaboration to deliver a wide range of opportunities to young people and to share good practice and expertise - through local cluster arrangements and through national networks such as the Specialist Schools network
  • Musicians and composers are aware of, and excited by, the range of opportunities in music education and are encouraged to work as teachers, tutors and amateurs across a range of formal and informal settings
  • Different types of musical expertise receive appropriate recognition; for example, through a range of accredited qualifications, through observation and peer assessment
  • Music Service staff, community musicians and classroom music teachers take part in joint training and curriculum planning events
To improve the support structures for young people making music

Music thrives on the great variety of its formal and informal provision, both within and outside school hours.

We know that many young people receive instrumental and vocal lessons through their LEA Music Services.

Many more are taking private lessons outside of school, making music in youth and community settings, forming 'garage' bands, and writing and playing music in their bedrooms and on their home PCs.

The challenge is to bring all these activities together in a way that makes sense to young musicians and music leaders. This requires a stable infrastructure that is sufficiently coherent to be understood by providers and young musicians, yet broad and flexible enough to cater for all ambitions and tastes.

  • We will find out more about all types of young people's music-making - who is doing what and where, and what support they need - so that support structures can be designed to serve their needs better
  • We will examine existing support structures and identify areas where further development is required
  • We will encourage support structures to work more closely together in developing existing information resources and providing joint professional development activities
  • We will work with private, independent and voluntary sector organisations to ensure that their contribution to music education is recognised and utilised to the full
  • We will build cross-sector support for the Music Manifesto by pledging specific activities linked to the five priority areas


This manifesto concentrates on young people and their musical development. That is right: the musical future of this country depends on encouraging young people's musical interest from an early age. However, music is for life, not just for youth. We recognise that there are a further set of priorities which are about the place of music in early adulthood and beyond. That is a topic for another day.

With this manifesto, we have deliberately set out to craft a strategy and set of priorities for young people's music education over the next three to five years.

We hope that more people will sign up to the manifesto as time goes on and, by signing ourselves, commit to doing all in our power to ensure that our organisations live up to the promise of its five key aims.