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Lord Lloyd Webber issues plea for more classical instruments in schools to turn children’s lives around
28 June 2023, 10:55 | Updated: 28 June 2023, 11:18
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Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has issued a plea for more classical instruments to be made available in schools in a bid to turn children’s lives around.
Speaking with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the award-winning British composer highlighted the disparity where access to a musical education is concerned - and the social benefits music can bring.
"One statistic which is not good at all from a government point of view is that 85 percent of private schools have an orchestra. Only 12 percent of state schools have an orchestra," noted Lord Lloyd Webber.
It's a statistic the Music In Secondary Schools Trust, part of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, hopes to change by promising "every child an entitlement to study a classical musical instrument on entry into secondary school".
Referencing the innovative music programme's first project with City of London Academy Highbury Grove, the composer emphasised the scheme's ability to reduce anti-social behaviour.
"Within three years of [pupils] having a free violin and having their weekly music lesson, the school completely turned around," he enthused.
Watch Again: Lord Lloyd Webber joins Nick Ferrari | 28/06/23
"The school turned around to such an extent that of course everyone wanted to send their children to it - so the house prices went up.
"Not only have some of the people gone on to become musicians but the majority of the kids have really, really, really changed their behaviour," reflected Lord Lloyd Webber.
The scheme, which costs £200 per child, per year, has so far been bankrolled by Lord Lloyd Webber's foundation and the Charles Wolfson Trust.
"It's only £200 per child a year - and we have every statistic that the government could possibly want for 10 years, of what this trust has done," he said, adding: "You could save on policing".
"We have evidence of children who have said they could have gone in to a drug gang, but just said 'we enjoy playing music'," said Lord Lloyd Webber.
Questioned about the scheme's reception, Lord Lloyd Webber referenced his recent thought-piece in The Times in which he wrote the programme had "been met with a vague, fudgy nod” from the government, despite the apparent benefits.
He also noted the turnover of ministers meant the proposal “gets passed form department to department” before mocking the number of culture ministers taking up the role during his expansive career.
Adding that "every single state school" the scheme supports now has an orchestra, the composer told Nick of the benefits - include self-awareness and the ability to work in a team.
"What music does in these schools - it's not about necessarily trying to make the children musicians, but what it does is really, really help them as people," Lord Lloyd Webber said.
Speaking of a recent concert at the Theatre Royal on London's Drury Lane which saw 600 musicians from around the country come together for the second anniversary of the scheme, Lord Lloyd Webber highlighted that "about a third of them had never been to London before".
"It's such a fantastic common denominator," enthused the musician.