The words of Steve Daykin, Director of Music at King William’s College, will be endorsed by those who work in music education up and down the country, let alone by musicians themselves. If further proof was required of the positive impact music can have both academically and socially, the Castletown-based school is a prime example, as it nurtures the next generation of musicians. Two of its International Baccalaureate students, Amy Bloch and Louise van der Merwe, are a case in point.
Both in the Upper Sixth at KWC, they have recently received offers from Oxford University – Amy to read History and Louise to read Medicine – and the opportunities are seemingly endless. Amy and Louise are both active members of the College’s flourishing music faculty, singing in the King William’s College Chapel Choir and immersing themselves in musicmaking; Louise is also a flautist and violinist, and Amy is a grade eight pianist.
Steve believes that their high achievement and involvement in the musical life of the College demonstrate the wider benefits, nature and value of music education. Mr Daykin explained
Naturally, everyone in the Music department is delighted and incredibly proud of what Amy and Louise are achieving and continue to achieve but, of course, it is also much more than that. Their successes highlight the positive effect of music on academic achievement, and the wider mental and therapeutic value of music education.
Research has long shown that music positively impacts academic performance, assists in developing social skills, and provides an outlet for creativity that is crucial to a young person’s development. There are few activities which activate as many areas of your brain as music does, whether that is learning an instrument or being part of a choir or ensemble, irrespective of style or genre.
It has been noted before, but is worth repeating, that there are numerous ways in which music can help teach important qualities – teamwork, creative thinking, discipline – and it can even relieve stress. It also integrates many different subject areas and creates so many opportunities.
It has a significant positive impact on mental well-being, and the strong correlation between music and happiness is regularly demonstrated in scientific research.
Any one of those reasons shows why the investment in music education is invaluable and, in whatever way Amy and Louise decide to continue their education, they would be the first to acknowledge the pivotal role which music has played in their progress so far.
The Island has an enviable tradition of school music leading to, and offering, wider opportunities for children and young people, and we are very fortunate that there are so many ways for our young people to make music, be it as beginners or as part of more advanced ensembles island-wide. It is therefore more important than ever that we continue to make music a priority within the education system, and ensure that it can be accessed and experienced by all.
With an increasing body of research highlighting the power of music to change lives, the UK Government published its National Plan for Music Education last year, which emphasises the importance of partnerships between schools and creative organisations within the music sector. Indeed, the Welsh government announced a plan to give free access to instrumental tuition to every child in primary education for the next three years.
The more research done into music, the more advantages we discover in so many areas of our lives,’ Steve added. ‘It is vital that young people from all walks of life have the opportunity to access music-making and even the chance to build a career using it. Properly funded, resourced, and supported music provision in our schools and within the community brings immeasurable benefits to children, whatever they may go on to do in later life. It is in our national interest to develop and maintain a musically literate society.