About

Why we set up Music Lifeline

The principal aim of this charity is provide access to music by children in the local area, albeit, necessarily, in a very small way. Some might ask why a charity should provide more access to music, surely this is the government’s responsibility.

We know, however, years will go by before music provision is improved with the result that yet another generation will lose out – and almost certainly the children of that generation.

The founder of the charity, when he became a governor at the local primary school, was concerned to find that the children had very little access to music. Not one of the teaching staff played a musical instrument; there was no singing at the morning assembly and of course no orchestra or wind band.

He came to realise, somewhat belatedly, how widespread musical illiteracy was, exacerbated by the lack of provision in state schools.

To him, music has been a lifeline, particularly during the recent pandemic, but he has witnessed how important it has been in other people’s lives. His mother who had alzheimer’s disease and didn’t recognise her own son, came to life when she heard, through her earphones, the Chopin pieces that her father used to play while, as a small girl, she was about to go to sleep. We have recently heard from Clemency Burton-Hill the importance of music in her recovery from a brain haemorrhage operation.

Research has shown the importance of music at every stage of our lives

We have witnessed the joy of children partaking in musical events run by others concerned to promote children’s music making.

One of the leading lights involved in promoting the access of music to state educated children is Kate Whitley, composer and co-founder , with Christopher Stark, of the Multi-Story Orchestra.  Kate has composed music for people of any musical ability so that they can play with a professional orchestra. She has gone into schools and worked with children to enable them eventually to perform with the orchestra. One group of teenagers from one of the schools asked her to help compose their own piece that dealt with gang culture and knife crime.  It was an amazing production, says Kate, reflecting the children’s creativity and passion.

WHO REPORT 2019 authored by Daisy Fancourt  Associate Professor and Wellcome Research Fellow, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London and Saoirse Finn, Visiting Researcher, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London, London, United Kingdom

This report should be read by all those in education.  Here are some of the findings.

  • Music plays an important role in child development. Foetuses can respond to sound as early as 19 weeks into pregnancy and infants have a natural tendency to seek auditory entrainment (music and dance, for example) soon after birth. Singing is particularly important in the bonding process.
  • Music plays an important part in language development. Engagement with musical rhythms at a young age supports synchrony in social development and more altruistic behaviour between children and adults, which is a key factor in supporting learning.
  • Experimental studies have shown the effects of individual singing sessions, in both small and large groups, on self-perceptions of social bonding, social behaviours and oxytocin levels, demonstrating faster social bonding through music than with other social activities .
  • Engagement with arts activities such as dance or the presence of background music can increase attention in the classroom. The arts also promote prosocial classroom and playground behaviours, enhance emotional competence among children that supports their engagement with learning , reduce competitive dynamics in classrooms and reduce bullying .
  • The arts facilitate creativity in children and adolescents (including autonomy, competence and relatedness), with creativity in childhood associated with a lower risk of developing social and behavioural maladjustment issues in adolescence.
  • For children from lower-income backgrounds or at risk of poorer socioemotional development and academic performance, music classes can improve social skills and reduce stress hormone levels, hyperactivity, autistic behavioural tendencies and problem behaviours, all of which support academic performance.

The report suggest that arts education in Finland is more advanced than here. Do let us know if you have any experience of music for children in Finland – or elsewhere for that matter. 

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