THIS WEEK hundreds of Kirklees’ finest young musicians took to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in the Music for Youth School proms.
There was probably not a dry eye in the house among the parents who accompanied their youngsters to the concert.
Seeing coverage of the event in The Examiner this week took me on a trip down memory lane, to the days when Firstborn and Secondborn belonged to the Colne Valley Festival Strings, a youth orchestra made up of children from seven to 17 and all musical grades. The orchestra was open to any young string player, without audition, and yet repeatedly won a place at the regional finals of the Music for Youth competition.
We never actually made it to the Albert Hall but enjoyed a number of trips to Birmingham and an especially memorable one to London’s Festival Hall to see them compete. There was always a lump in my throat.
I’ve banged on about this sort of thing before but I’m going to give it another whirl.
Learning to play a musical instrument can be life-changing. It is certainly life affirming - whether it be a violin, a drum or an electric guitar.
It is, I believe, a skill that most children could pick up. After all they can manage to grasp the complexities of smart phones. They wouldn’t necessarily become virtuosos but that doesn’t matter.
Music stimulates the higher centres of the brain, it develops hand/eye co-ordination, team-building and imparts a sense of achievement. Learning to read music - based on mathematical progressions - should be regarded as a key skill.
And yet moves by the Government to examine how children do in five core subjects at GCSE is already causing some secondary schools to remove music - and art - as options.
Perhaps ministers should have gone to the schools prom this week to see what music can do for young people and then have a good long think about the error of their ways.