Macron orders music lessons in every school in France

Macron orders music lessons in every school in France


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2017

The French government is to spend 20 million Euros ensuring that every school in the country has its own choir by 2019 and that music teachers are fully trained.

Report here.


  • David R Osborne says:

    Great news.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    This chap Blanquer is making some very intelligent decisions. I was very sceptical of EM and how he became president but his Education Minister is turning out to be a very good appointment.

  • Anon says:

    The 20 million now is just the kick off. They want to go full in next year.
    Good to see politicians who are informed and know what’s best for their country and future cultural development. It’s rare to have such intelligent politicians these days.

  • Robin Bermanseder says:

    Good news indeed.
    The support of culture is an indicator of a society’s maturity and stability.
    Sorely needed in these chaotic and anxious times.

  • Steve P says:

    If we tried this in America, we’d wind up with fully trained teachers giving lessons in hip hop & garageband. The one cultural achievement in American music – jazz – is sadly neglected. Thank goodness politicians are not throwing money at this issue.

    • Patrick says:

      Sadly, jazz is not “cost-effective”. Large concert bands, orchestras and choirs can provide a music experience (and hopefully an education) to many students at a time, with the same number of faculty as a much smaller jazz ensemble or combo.

      • Eric Broomfield says:

        In Arizona there are many many jazz bands in the public schools. Over 30 years ago I played in many of these bands as well as concert bands and orchestras. At Mesa Community College the night jazz band is composed of some of the best musicians in the state. Of course more students need to have the chance to play. My wife teaches orchestra in a district that is highly diverse in all demographics. Many are provided with instruments. Of course there is a need for greater funding. But all of these fine musicians and educators are fighting the good fight.

    • anonanon says:

      @steve p, I’ll give you the next 25 years to write one, just one commercially successful hip-hop piece or indie song, and I’ll even set the bar low enough, say if you can sell your CD to just 10 people including family members, no what the heck, let’s make it 5 to make it easier for you, if you manage that, I’d cut off my left foot.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    He is a pianist, I believe. France has enjoyed a tradition of music of all styles for a long time. With new generations, this is a smart decision, to ensure the future of music education and appreciation for decades to come. Merci beaucoup, President Macron.

  • Roger says:

    Careful of elitism. Every kid could benefit from involvement in music. Doesn’t have to be classical. If it’s a garage band, then make it a good one. The idea is to “reach” kids and music, done right, can be very effective.
    And, BTW, many, many American public schools have jazz bands.

    • Steve P says:

      True – but as noted previously by another poster, orchestra, band, and chorus are more common performance ensembles due to the larger delivery capacity of instruction and less need for one-to-one musical training.
      And jazz band is hardly jazz, I’m afraid. The skill of improvising and small group interaction is much, much less common. Having. Group of students play with good style and tone in a big band setting is more common than a sextet blowing thru rhythm changes with any amount of improvisation.

    • Anon says:

      Well, some music is more valuable than other, as far as the benefits for children are concerned. Clearly singing and classical music are far better than anything electrically made or even heavy metal. It‘s a scientific fact. We need to stop the cultural relativism, a populistic pestilence of our days.

      • John says:

        “Clearly singing and classical music are far better than anything electrically made or even heavy metal. It‘s a scientific fact.”

        Could you provide some references to scientific research papers, please? I would be very interested to read them.

        • Anon says:

          study the publications of Manfred Spitzer and Alfred Tomatis as a start. There is much more.

          • John says:

            And these individuals have scientific proof that “singing and classical music are far better than anything electrically made or even heavy metal”? That’s quite an achievement.

            (Let’s leave aside the small matters that heavy metal includes singing and there is plenty of “classical music” that is “electrically made.”)

          • Anon says:

            John, there is music that evolved naturally out of a human need for it.
            And then there is „music“ that evolved mainly out of a commercial interest.
            Guess which one is generally good for brain development, and which not.

            Yes there is scientific proof of that now too. You can study it, but only if you are free and curious enough.

            That many seem to like something is not the point. See the metaphor with the flies and the pile of shit. Commercially it would be sound selling shit to flies.

          • Another John says:

            I did as you suggested re the research of Dr Spitzer. Here’s an interesting quote.
            Spitzer told The Economist: “Let me dispel a brain development myth. Many people think classical music is going to enhance brain function or playing particular games sharpens ones cognitive function. These theories have been looked at in detail and they don’t stand up.”

            Could you also tell me more about ‘music that evolved naturally out of a human need’ and . . . ‘music that evolved mainly out of a commercial interest.’ Particularly how the former is good for us and the latter is bad. I would like to research that and learn more.

            I assume an example of the first would be Inuit katajjaq or West African Dondo music and an example of the latter would be the music that J. S. Bach composed at the court of Anthon Gunther for a salary of 50 florins.

        • Charles Fischbein says:

          John I don’t hear lyrics Handel et all supporting cop killing, suggesting rape is justified, constant use of the N, and the F word as you do in Hip Hop.
          Situational ethics does not solve social problems, only makes them worse.

      • BertieRussell says:

        As though Beethoven’s Eroica or Mozart’s Prague symphony are comparable to Smoke on the Water. Dieskau’s Winterreise comparable to Earth Wind and Fire ! I think R.Scruton got it right when he said that genuine appreciation presupposes a criterion of judgement, a way of discriminating ephemera from compositions of lasting value.

    • Stephen Malinowski says:

      Tradition does not equal elitism.

    • AE says:

      Who said it was going to be classical?
      2h of singing, in addition to the already exsisting musical projects in the school are planed for the “collèges” (Middle School). 20% for anthem, franche chanson and folk songs, 80% choral music, no clarification on which nature. But,there are more classical peaces probably available.
      Choral music will also be introduces in primary schools, if not already done and kept after the introduction of Minister Lang a few years ago. In high school choral music will also be on the program, as well as in professional high school/colleges.
      Music education is to start already in kindergarten.
      All music project already existing in the school system are to remain, and be founded the same way they already are.
      Music education initiatives around kids are to be supported from the government.
      That is what the package is about.
      So it is not only an elitarian classical music package, please, read properly and inform you before you give your opinion.
      The goal is rather to give every child the opportunity starting from the earliest age to have a musical education.
      I had the chance to go to France at school, to have a music education, and choral education side grad 1, and I am very thankful for that.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The reason why such thing is at all possible in a country like France, is a residu of resistence against the materialist sides of modernity, and against the influence of the lesser elements of Americana.

    But then the question arises of which music will be taught, and how it will be related to the classical music performance culture. And then: will the children of the banlieux also be involved in the music lessons? And again, which music? And what is the point of having children enjoying music lessons with poverty-stricken families? How will the type of music be experienced in terms of cultural identity?

    • Steve P says:

      My point exactly: as we see in American schools now, diversity of cultural opinion is valued more than recognizing masterworks of music. Rather than focus on training musical excellence, I think the broad yet shallow American curriculum model would not be an asset to furthering music education.

    • Anon says:

      I think just singing together, one song in the morning, led by qualified teachers, everyday a different song, would go a very long way, poor or rich parents, multicultural or french, doesn‘t matter. Just making it a natural habit to sing together. It happened in the past centuries in church sermons and at home.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    1970s: The small public school I attended in Northern California offered music – instruction, instruments, performance in ensembles of varying sizes including vocal groups, in a wide variety of styles.

    1978: A large chunk of the state did not want to pay for public anything, a tax change went through, and music education disappeared along with a lot of other public services.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Much as I applaud Blanquer’s decision it shouldn’t mask the fact there has been, up until now, criminally little music in French state schools. Music could be a vector for integration in a way sport will never be: if you are 5′ 2″, for example, you’ll probably never be a high jumper or long distance runner, but you can play whatever musical instrument you want. Possibilities in sport can be largely influenced by one’s physiognomy; not necessarily so in music.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Great stuff!
    I shall watch with interest

  • Rachel says:

    I live in France and say “wait and see”. It always looks easier the other side of the pond. Music conservatoires were completely dropped from the state budget by 2015 We now have to survive on the local council, and if they are so inclined, will cut jobs or hire ‘animators’ instead of qualified Professors. The irony is that the national conservatoire system was created by the state in 1982 for the same cultural ethics stated by the present government. I’m sorry, but the battle is long, and the French are not as highly cultured as they seem. At least no more than the Anglo Saxons.

  • Rgiarola says:

    Left wing could not do better. They would be looking right now for a misconducting by Dutoit while working with a french orchestra. France seems to be save from hypocrisy up to now…

  • Cato says:

    This initiative sounds very positive. However Twenty million euros between Over7000 schools equates toUnder €3000 per school. Doesn’t seem a huge amount to me. As someone who benefited from free lessons and instrument in the 1970s, i now make my living as a full time opera chorister and am often grateful for the enlightened musical education policies of my youth. Hope Macron goes further

    • AndyB says:

      I agree any effort to fund music education is to be applauded. Donc, Bravo M. Macron et son equipe!
      However the funds need to be well directed. Equipping teachers through singing lessons and repertoire suggestions for young choirs is a start, but I would suggest that the singing lessons should have something of a Tomatis type approach to encourage the ear.
      The question of pitch is especially tricky for French choral groups – possibly due to a combination of the low energy of breath used in spoken French ( beautifully poetic though the language is) as opposed to the livelier, more active breath support required for singing and past musical approaches which have emphasised solfege / music theory rather than a connected balance of vocal / aural skills.
      Anyone who has coached French singers will be pleased to hear about this initiative , but yes, more please M . Macron!
      Hopefully more singing will mean not only well being and development for all in all areas of curriculum , but also the discovery of more interesting young voices to be nurtured. Season’s greetings!
      PS I believe M. Macron took lessons from singer Jean Philippe Lafont in an effort to prepare him vocally for the arduous election campaign – very sensible.

  • Mx Margaret D. Jones says:

    We’re watching this closely in Australia. Choral singing is the way to go, but you really need well-trained teachers. Maybe I’ll emigrate… just got to get a visa.

    There are so many benefits to singing: socialising, cooperating, coordinating, listening skills, respiration (it helps your breathing and is great for asthmatics), appreciation of musical form & structure, appreciation of styles, languages, improving pronunciation, a causal relationship with mathematical skills and other learning outcomes. I’m sure it is a longer list than this. Behavioural improvements. There is a theory that the sound vibrations from singing stimulate the pituitary gland behind the nose/eyes improving general health. Singing provides more oxygen to the brain. It goes on.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    Are the French stopping at choirs? From the headline I thought this was a broad commitment to music in their schools including instrumental lessons and performance. The Francemusique article makes it sound like it is choral only.

  • Yossi fisher says:

    Meanwhile in Israel our semi fascist parliament decided to vote against a bill that would have allowed kids to loan musical instruments in music schools.

  • Charles Fischbein says:

    Socialism at it’s best.
    Guess they will take money from their security services so all their Muslim immigrants can learn to play an instrument and stop planning terror attacks.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Guess they will take money from their security services so all their Muslim immigrants can learn to play an instrument and stop planning terror attacks.

      Well, the second part of the sentence would be no bad thing.

  • KKG Music says:

    I’m both amazed and appalled at the rampant negative generalizations and politicization of this not ground-breaking announcement. Music instruction was always important to the education of the whole child going back to ancient Grecian times. It is only in recent memory that non-educators have been setting educational policy via standardized testing in “core” subjects and teachers have had to abide by regulations that they fully know, have nothing to do with wit & creativity.

    Of all of the decisions that could positively impact a culture in just one generation, with very little investment or turmoil, this surely is it.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Monsieur Macron,go for it!

  • Sclikes says:

    This is a good news to all France students. This a big opportunity to learn music. I happy to read this post.