Our children need the arts

As I’m technically on holiday now, I hope you will grant me the liberty to write about something close to my heart that is not conservatoire life.

Today I went to the Christmas concert at Gallions Primary School, where my flatmate works, and I was bowled over by what I experienced. I’m sure Charlotte could provide you with the exact numbers, but here I found 100+ children under the age of ten singing and playing string instruments. In a state school, in what is purportedly one of the most deprived areas of London. The children were happy, and clearly took pride in what they were doing. Furthermore, they all listened attentively to their friends and classmates as they took their turn to play. If you think music in schools is only for the financially privileged, this would make you think again.

But why should this be such an unusual and exciting experience? The sad truth is that music, and arts, education in this country is in a sorry state - and is being pushed lower in curriculum priorities by the day. Thus, often it is only the most privileged that get access to the arts - either at school or through junior academies, Saturday schools and youth groups.

Why doesn’t every child get access to a rounded arts education? What is it that teachers, parents, and ultimately decision-makers are missing?

The Gallions concert demonstrated so much more than a few kids who could hold a violin correctly. What I saw was a hundred or so children who had been gifted with the confidence to perform in public, who had learned to respect one another’s talent, and who had the chance to experience what it is to take pride in their work. On top of this, these children were inspired to create, communicate and express. These skills will stay with them for life. They cannot be taught, they cannot be quantified and nobody can know where this experience will take them. The arts have mental health benefits. The arts develop a whole side of the brain that is barely touched by maths and science. The arts are what make us human.

If we want our children to be the next generation of leaders, problem-solvers and innovators we must give them the chance to learn to perform and communicate, to respect and be respected, and most importantly, to create.

You can help to perpetuate the brilliant work of Gallions Primary School by clicking here: http://gallionsmusictrust.org.uk/support-us-2/