In response to your recent letter to parents at you school where you state:
Could I please point out that while listening to music might be your hobby, for many who work in the music industry it is a profession. Indeed for many who work in the industry of the arts it is a profession.
The statement in your letter only illuminates your own ignorance. It also saddens me, as over 30 years ago I was told by my headmaster that I could not make a living as an artist, but that it was a good hobby for me to pursue in my married life. He went on to inform me that girls only went to art college to look for a husband, which seemed a complete failure of logic, for why, if you wished to find a husband to earn a living so you could pursue your hobby would you choose to hunt one down in a place where you can’t make a living? But I digress.
Sir, the music industry in the UK brings in an estimated 690 million pounds. How this is assessed I am not sure, for music does so much more than just provide a living for many people.
But the main point that you are missing I fear is that education is not meant to be a process a child is passed through, like meat in a sausage factory, to emerge at the other end with certificates and employability. Education is a powerful thing, and music teaches people how to collaborate, it teaches a sense of time, it teaches patience, it teaches listening skills, it broaden understanding of wider subjects, so many things, too many to list. Music is not something that is often done in isolation. It’s about learning to communicate, to share space, both physical and sonic. It’s about knowing when to speak, to sing, to play and when to be silent. it’s about finding a voice, being heard.
We don’t have to look far to see what happens when people are unable to co-operate and listen, and think in creative ways.
Those who do not wish to make a living in the music industry can benefit in so many ways also.
As a teacher, and a head teacher, you should be supporting the education of all your pupils and their access to music, not just the few who can afford to take private lessons after school.
A failure to do so is a dereliction of your duty, and were I to give you a school report I would say ‘could do better’.
My old headmaster is dead now ( nothing to do with me), so he did not live to see that I could indeed make a living as an artist, and whilst there were indeed many handsome young men at art college many of the women I was at college with were there to seek an education, and not a husband.
Yours, completely unbelieving that 30 years on this can still be an issue.
See Guardian Education article re letter to head. And, if anyone reading this has a child at the school in question please print off letter and take in for headmaster ( assuring him first that my headmaster died of old age, and it was nothing to do with dragons)
My thanks to Dr Adam Rutherford for highlighting this article on twitter. One day we should talk of what happens when artists and scientists work together.
Ps, to all children who are told by ‘grown-ups’ that you can’t make a living in the arts, this is nonsense, and grown ups don’t always, or in some cases, often, know what they are talking about.
To all young musicians, you need to join the Musicians Union so that you can have contracts checked. And also, do take a look at the work of Help Musicians, a charity who fund music lessons, instrument costs, start ups, who have mentor to help you navigate through the tides and turns of currents of what is a fierce industry. And know that if you choose to follow your heart, you may need to get a part time job to help support your dream, you might always need one, BUT you will have spent your days doing something you love. And that is everything.