An inquiry conducted at the House of Lords examining the 360-degree value of music in society


Wednesday 24th October 2018 (5.30pm – 7pm)
Committee Room 4
Chair: Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE
Secretariat: Dr Julia Jones (Found in Music) / Dr Shain Shapiro (Sound Diplomacy)

Topic to be addressed: The role of music in building the future workforce (engaging young people in skills learning)


  • Professor Birgitte Andersen: CEO, Big Innovation Centre / Secretariat, APPG for AI and Blockchain

  • Ben Lewis, CEO, Young Voices Concerts

  • Naveed Idrees: Headmaster, Feversham Primary Academy

  • Jimmy Rotheram: Music Teacher, Feversham Primary Academy


Professor Birgitte Andersen outlined the following:

  • The recent skills report published by the APPG for AI and KPMG concluded that the single most important skill in future will be the ability to learn. We must teach young people how to learn quickly and effectively. The content used to teach the skill of learning is to some extent inconsequential as long as the student successfully learns how to learn. Therefore, music (because of its highly engaging and enjoyable nature and because young people are drawn to music) is a highly effective vehicle to teach the skill of learning. It will be common in future for individuals to have several diverse career paths during their working life. The ability to repeatedly learn and retrain is a skill that will future-proof employment opportunities

  • Creativity is another skill that has been highlighted by the APPG for AI report as a skill that will be in high demand in the future. AI sector leaders in the UK have already identified an existing skills gap, calling for more employees with creative and critical thinking ability, communication, confidence and teamwork skills. Music is a highly effective vehicle for teaching these important skills.

  • Music nurtures many skills that are highly transferable. For example, the use of music technology is very similar to the skills required in software development and use. However, in some cases, licensing stifles the development of creativity in young people. For example, children being encouraged to be creative at school but when they upload videos they have created on their social pages they are issued with take-down notices.

  • For the above reasons music is very much an asset in education but due to pressures on the curriculum it has become viewed as a cost. This must change.

Ben Lewis outlined the following:

  • Young Voices is a commercially profitable company (with a charitable Foundation arm offering grants to schools who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to participate). Over 2 million children in the UK have performed at a Young Voices arena concert. 160,000 children take part each year. 25% of UK primary schools work with Young Voices. This phenomenal success is believed to be due to the fact that the Department for Education is not listening to teachers. Teachers want to deliver more music in school but can’t get good enough resources (partly due to licensing cost and complexity) and can’t prioritise it because it isn’t measured in school ratings.

  • 75% of teachers that work with Young Voices are NOT music teachers. They are simply teachers who passionately believe that children should have a high quality music experience. This is what Young Voices delivers.

  • Teachers and parents recognise (in a recent Nielsen survey) that participating in the Young Voices programme each year significantly improves self-belief, confidence, empathy, team-working, discipline and tolerance.

  • Young Voices spends considerable sums on licensing music each year. Because using recent popular songs is a highly effective way of engaging children and parents.

Naveed Idrees outlined the following:

  • The school (Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford) was in Ofsted special measures for many years and they tried several recommended strategies to improve the situation but none of them worked. Instead Naveed decided to heavily embed music across the school, empowering teachers to use it in all lessons. Now the school is one of the highest rated schools in the UK. Music is the bedrock of educational success because it engages children and creates a joyful environment (for both pupils and teachers) where other skills such as maths and language can also be improved.

  • The 500+ children in his primary school are part of the future workforce and the key to a successful UK economy. In an AI led world it is economically imperative that primary school children are taught to “learn how to learn” and are given an environment where their creativity skills can thrive.

  • The fact that their school attracted such large scale international media attention demonstrates the scale of the problem. The fact that a school is providing lots of music in the curriculum and consequently achieving excellent results should NOT be a news story. It should be the norm.

  • Teenagers worldwide could be ranked on their creativity and ability to imagine and create, under proposals for the 2021 Pisa tests. The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which is run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is best known for measuring how 15-year-olds do in maths, reading and science. But now an advisory group has been asked to come up with a definition of creative thinking that can be assessed, and to recommend how to assess it, for the influential Pisa rankings. This is another sign of the importance of creativity in the future workplace and it’s essential that the UK does not get left behind due to its overemphasis on STEM subjects.

Jimmy Rotheram outlined the following:

  • Student teachers only receive around 2-6 hours of music lectures in the entirety of their 1 year Post Graduate Certificate of Education course. This isn’t enough to give them the confidence to use music in class. Feversham decided to give all its teachers continual professional development in music and that has given them the skills and resources to use it regularly in class.

  • Singing is an extremely effective early method of providing music exposure and is low cost as it needs no instruments.

  • Jimmy uses the Kodaly method of teaching music but acknowledged that other methods work equally well. The key is to simply make the experience fun and enjoyable.


Lord Clement-Jones (also the Chair of the APPG for AI) suggested that the UK Government doesn’t seem to understand the wider importance of teaching creative skills in school. He asked the witnesses whether the Music Education Hubs funded by the Arts Council are effective?

Naveed Idris and Jimmy Rotheram replied that in their experience the Music Education Hubs were not an effective strategy for ensuring that children get sufficient access to music in schools. The hubs don’t always have tutors with age appropriate pedagogic skills. It would be more effective to fund a specialist that was actually based within schools - either a music teacher or a passionate teacher who takes responsibility for leading on music. The Music Hubs model is flawed and creates a mindset in many schools that music only happens when the external tutors come in to deliver it.

Ben Lewis agreed and replied that although in theory the Music Hubs were meant to act in a collaborative capacity, in practice this has not been possible. Young Voices has attempted to reach out to Music Hubs in several regions of the UK but their invitations to collaborate have not been seized by the Hubs.

Professor Martin Fautley, Director of research in the School of Education and Social Work at Birmingham City University in the UK commented that there was a lack of organisation that led to a patchiness in delivery and confusion between the daily classroom delivery and an external enriched offering. TCJ commented that maybe a review of the Music Hubs would be beneficial to see if the money could be more effectively distributed.

Lord Aberdare (Chair of the APPG for Music Education) congratulated Feversham on their inspiring success and asked if they use resources from organisations such as the BBC and Music Education Hubs in their delivery.

Jimmy replied that they tend to develop their own resources internally, partly due to the fact that the pupils are particularly drawn to Nasheed music. The Nasheed genre is a modern twist that muslim artists are putting on traditional worship songs using hip hop and country influences while keeping the messages of their faith in the lyrics.

Ben Lewis replied saying that they also create their Young Voices teacher resources internally.

Lord Clement-Jones asked if there was any hard evidence regarding the role of music in developing creativity and critical skills.

Naveed Idrees replied saying that it’s very difficult to completely prove a causal effect within education but there is a very visible and very strong correlation between music provision and educational performance.

Ben Lewis agreed saying that their surveys completed by parents and teachers suggest a positive relationship between the music participation and improvements in general learning behaviour and confidence.

Jimmy also added that the positive effects of music is particularly noticeable in students with special educational needs.

Lord Aberdare asked about the curriculum content and commented that he would particularly like to see a diverse offering from hip hop to baroque.

All witnesses agreed that contemporary music genres and fun songs that children strongly identify with and can easily master is the key to initial engagement. That engagement success can then open the door to other music genres such as jazz and classical. It was also noted that contemporary music is now split into many new genres – such as the hip hop style Nasheed music genre that is popular with the children at Feversham.

Jimmy explained that they regularly bring local performers into the school to perform with the children in order to show diverse styles and demonstrate that music is a career pathway.

Ben commented that GB sports stars work much more closely with schools that UK music stars.

Lord Clement-Jones asked if IP and licensing complexities are a barrier stopping schools from offering more music.

Ben Lewis replied that some schools can’t navigate the process and so end up using “twee” materials that are out of copyright for ease. This material doesn’t engage the children as much as the more recent material that they are embracing at home and consuming online.

Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association of Independent Music, suggested that schools and Young Voices should consider using material from current independent artists as that was often easier to negotiate than using major publishers.


  1. There is strong consensus regarding the value of music in general skills learning and clearly a problem in delivery - this has been already identified in several reports. A review of the Arts Council funded Music Education Hubs to establish the effectiveness of the model to date would be beneficial. If this system is not working it needs to be adjusted urgently so the funds invested deliver greater results. Given that creativity and general skills learning ability are essential in the future AI led economy it is imperative that we reverse the decline in music education as soon as possible.

  2. A review of the way in which Ofsted / Department for Education measures schools’ performance would be beneficial to ensure that there is a balanced approach and not an overemphasis on STEM subjects. A slight tweak to the existing system could bring dramatic improvements. Schools cannot and will not focus on music provision if they aren’t being measured on it. Because the limited resources they have at their disposal forces them to prioritise the subjects that they are actually measured on. This prioritization of STEM subjects also creates damaging perceptions that music is not as important and has less value.

  3. A review of teacher training delivery and CPD provisions would also be valuable to ensure that the profession has sufficient access to music exposure and acquires the confidence to embed it into teaching practice.

Save the Date:

Music in Society - Evidence Meeting 2

November 20th 2018 / 5pm – 6.30pm /

Committee Room 4

Topic to be addressed: The role of music in public health

General information


Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE


Dr Julia Jones (Found in Music) & Dr Shain Shapiro (Sound Diplomacy)

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