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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Howe


I can't really have a blog on this site without mentioning the fact that the classical arts and music business is falling apart. I don't want to mention any companies by name but one dance company that I used to work for has decided to stop using it's fabulous orchestra and just to dance to recordings instead. Everyone in the orchestra will lose their jobs. Another big arts company in London is going to get rid of some of the musicians in the orchestra and then pay everyone left less...and then move the whole company away from London, where these musicians live. Another orchestra has so little work, people are having to leave and look for work elsewhere. But there is no work 'elsewhere' because companies are imploding! The thing is, that if these people are forced out of their jobs then they are going to look for work with other companies as freelancers. The competition for freelance work, which was horrific to start with, is going to become unsustainable. Basically, there just isn't enough work to go around. And with new musicians leaving music colleges every year, all desperate to begin work, things are looking very bleak.

You could say it all comes down to funding, or the lack of it. Well yes, funding plays a huge a part in supporting the incredible music organisations in the UK, but I, and most of my colleagues, think it's more than that. This country has some of the greatest musicians and companies in the world. It has always been an incredible cultured place. But I think it's going massively down hill in the cultural stakes. The government are hopeless. I don't think the Prime Minister has an artistically cultured bone in his body and so music is fast becoming only something only a few do. Music and art seem to be subjects that he knows absolutely nothing about and doesn't care about. And this trickles down into the way music education is run. A-level music is being scrapped in schools left right and centre. The school my children went to has just scrapped it's A-level music course. That school had one of the most fantastic music programmes I had ever heard. The concerts were epic. So many kids played instruments. The head teacher raved about how incredible the students were. Now, it's just a shadow of what it was. And in the last concert my son played in, the head teacher was talking to the sixth formers, wondering why the number of performers and audience was so small. My son was furious. He wanted to say to her 'Well, what do you expect!' But out of respect he didn't. It was so upsetting to see such a change. That head teacher just didn't get it. She couldn't see the link between the lack of support for a once flourishing music department and a downturn in numbers of children being interested and parents coming to listen.

This site is not a political platform and I don't want to sound political in my blog but times are difficult for musicians and we need help. All I will say is that, in terms of the future, I believe we have to change things from the ground up. We have to make the government understand the power of music teaching in schools and what it means for kids to learn instruments. It is so important for our country to begin to show ALL our children, and their parents, what it means to to play and listen to music. Playing together, listening and responding to other people around you are such incredible lessons for a child's future.

Rishi wants kids to do maths for ever, till numbers are coming out of their ears. Well, how about music Rishi! There is so much maths in music, and so much else to take from it as well. It's the perfect solution. But the trouble is, Rishi doesn't seem to be listening. He just isn't interested. So we have to do it ourselves. There are loads of incredible people out there who are pushing this so musical agenda hard, working tirelessly to get kids involved. And I guess, by me keeping on composing this music, then in a small way, I am playing my part too. I just need to forge on with it. I need to work hard to help change the mindset that is: a total lack of respect for culture in this country from the powers that be. I just need to keep believing we can change this. It's going to be a long road to get things back to the way they were but it's a road we have to travel.


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