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Risk of Under-Representation in the Music Industry

New Musicians’ Union research shows many parts of the UK are at risk of under-representation in the music industry, as lower income families are priced out of music lessons.

Published: 06 November 2018 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:29 PM

New Musicians’ Union research shows many parts of the UK are at risk of under-representation in the music industry, as lower income families are priced out of music lessons.

Over 40% of those from low-income families say music lessons are beyond their household budgets.

Our research also reveals families with a total household income of less than £28,000 are half as likely to have a child learning an instrument as more affluent peers with a family income of £48,000 or more.

This stark disparity exists despite similar levels of interest from both groups of children.

That’s why we’re calling on decision-making bodies, in particular Government, to review its offering of music education in schools.

In the press

“To deny people who cannot necessarily afford it the possibility of trying is criminal. Because what is going to be left is the only musicians – or players, or writers – we are going to hear are rich ones, ones that are able to afford it,” – composer of five James Bond soundtracks David Arnold talks to the Independent.

"Music education has been thrown to the wolves in the UK,” musician John Thirkell tells the BBC, sharing his own experience that led to him working with George Michael, Tina Turner and Bruno Mars. “I could not have started this journey without free music lessons in school. My parents worked hard to put food on our table, so there is no way that my parents could have afforded to help with my tuition,” he adds.

“We want music to be available and attainable for all to enjoy, whether you’re the next Ed Sheeran or simply want to explore more creative subjects,” – MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge talks to ITV News.

“The power of music to young people is palpable, as access from a young age can not only positively impact a child’s cognitive abilities, but their social and emotional development too,” – Educational Psychologist Hannah Abrahams discusses the impact of music lessons on young people in M Magazine.

TES looks at the data, which shows that families earning less than £28,000 are half as likely to have a child learning an instrument as a family with an income of £48,000 or more.

Sky News’ Ali Fortescue looks at the postcode lottery.

“Where you’ve got a head in a school who really believes in making a creative studies offering, and believes in music, and understands how music can empower young people, then you’ll find it in the curriculum. But academies, for instance, they don’t follow the national curriculum. And nor do free schools” explains MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge.

What you can do to help

Share our research on Twitter and Facebook. Here are some example posts:

Try our new “Let every child learn music” Facebook Frame to show your support for music lessons in schools.

Music fans who would like to join a network of people campaigning to protect music can sign up to be a MU supporter for free.

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