David Cameron gives his views on music education

David Cameron gives his views on music education


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2015

Speaking tonight on Classic FM, the prime minister talks up his government’s work on music education: ‘As a government we’ve put something like £390m into music education. We’ve created these hubs around the country so that more children get the chance to learn a musical instrument. I think it is important. There’s more to be done.’

But he goes on to say that reading, writing and numeracy must come first. Arts and sport can follow when those basics are nailed down.

He says he always weeps in The Sound of Music.

Oh, dear. More here. 


The Classic FM Interview with David Cameron.


  • John says:

    Typically patronizing claptrap.

  • Tim Benjamin says:

    Nick vs Dave seems to have gone rather better than Nick Ferrari’s interview with Natalie Bennett…

    Good for Cameron to even bother going on national radio to talk about music lessons – I can’t remember any leader of a major party doing something similar. The only thing I can remember off-hand is some politician or other promising more “music lessons” by which they meant singing, not the instrumental (i.e. more expensive, one-to-one) lessons that Cameron specifically mentioned.

    By the way, there’s really no need for you to sneer at him “weeping” at the Sound of Music. It is after all supposed to be a fairly moving film. His other choices (hopefully high-brow enough for you!) include the Emperor concerto (to which he listened at school, no less) and the Four Last Songs (which remind him of his marriage – wait – what?!?) Anyway I doubt the alternative PMs have ever heard of Strauss, and if they have, assume he makes either jeans or waltzes.

  • NYMike says:

    Translated to approx. $590m, that’s a helluva lot more than our paltry $140m NEA budget given to ALL the arts in the USA.

  • Anonne says:

    Reading, writing and numeracy ARE more important in schools. He does not seem to be in any way hostile to music or arts education, just has his priorities right.

    And while I think TSOM is a ghastly piece of kitsch, his other musical choices seem quite attractive.

    Only read the link; I doubt I can dig up the actual interview. But he sounds rather nice. Wouldn’t vote for him, but he is not as monstrous as some other recent Tory leaders.

    • Stephen says:

      I would say that music is just as important as what used to be called “the three Rs”. It complements them to help make a fully educated and rounded person. As far as I’m concerned maths, once past primary school, added nothing to my life.

      • Anonne says:

        Don’t be absurd. Without maths, you would not know how to pay for anything and collect correct change, do (or sign off on) your taxes, budget, etc., let alone have a vague comprehension of the economics of society and how it affects day-to-day life. I in no way undervalue the asset music is to rounding out an education — it punches above its weight in what it contributes to life and development. But lots of non-musically trained people have an appreciation of music — maybe not classical, but they get what contemporary stuff, rock and the like, is about and how it works. Numeracy seems not to be so instinctive. Like reading and writing, it has to be taught. Music has to be taught to be FULLY comprehended and appreciated, but except for a relative few gifted individuals, it will not provide a livelihood, and the ability to read a classical score will not impress any employer other than a musical company.

        • Stephen says:

          I did say that primary school maths is important – that’s all one needs for tax returns or prices: addition, subtraction, multiplication, mental arithmetic.

          • Stephen says:

            I don’t think that learning about the nuts and bolts of music is as important as knowing that music exists beyond what is pumped out constantly on most radio stations and TV channels.
            As to impressing an employer with the ability to read a score, plenty have been impressed with an Oxbridge degree in “irrelevant” Latin and Greek.

          • Anonne says:

            Latin is not irrelevant. (And Greek is not either). I took both, though much more Latin. Helped me speedily to learn other languages — Romance and Slavic. Success there made approaching Asian languages less intimidating than it might have been as I felt I knew how to tackle a language. I did not do Greek till University and its principal benefit to me was to make other alien-script languages a lot less intimidating, as I had managed one.

            I agree it would be very desirable to teach something of music appreciation at the very least. I recently ran into a man I know in his 50s, a rap fan, whose complaint about classical music was that it all sounded “the same.” From someone whose own choice is something so monotonous and repetitive, whatever its alleged merits, this is a preposterous iteration — and he was so insistent that I was speechless in rage, completely thrown by the wilful ignorance that would brook no comeback. That sort of thing needs to be educated out, but I do not know where it is going to happen, as most music departments in North American schools, since Fame and Glee and all that, seem to be teaching pop stuff anyway.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s good that the PM has spoken about this on national radio. The only shocking part for me is the anti-intellectual approach of the interview as reported on the website, starting with Cameron’s rather undemanding level of English – ‘thing’, ‘sort of’, ‘like’ etc – to Classic FM’s regular exhortations to listen to the last sentence via an audio file. Aspiring to anything above average seems to have no traction these days.

  • Nicholas says:

    If you are interested in reading the Labour & Liberal Democrats’ vision for the arts check out this blog post on Classical Diary:

  • Stephen says:

    If you look up Cameron on the Desert Island Discs site you will see that music is the very last of his interests. Indeed, if he could take only one disc it would be Benny Hill’s “Ernie, the fastest milkman in the West”.

  • james says:

    Assessing the value of #criticalthinking, #education and its role in #publiclife reasearches at #University of #Houston http://guleninstitute.org/ 🙂