Is music a ‘rigorous’ subject?

29th September 2015

Emile Holba

Photo @emileholba

In England, the most over-used word in education rhetoric in the last year or so has to be “rigour”. It’s the kind of word you feel should always appear in bold block capitals, such is the value to pinned to it by our current secretary of state for education. Under the current leadership, if a subject, lesson or teacher lacks rigour it seems it deserves no place in our schools.

This mind set was hammered home by the development of the EBacc, a way to judge school results based on 5 subject areas that are though to be of the most value-English, Maths, Science, Humanities, a Language and from 2014 a 6th-Computer Science. (Hang on. Computer science? Where did this come from?)

Of course music was not amongst the original 5 EBacc subjects, in fact the inclusion of any arts qualification was noticeable by its absence. This has caused many to fear the down-grading of these subjects in our school as a result and created a feeling that these are not considered to be sufficiently rigorous They must therefore of little value to the students of the 21st century in the eyes of those that make the decisions on behalf of our children.

But it would seem that there may be a glimmer of hope. In this blog by Laura McInerney, she points out that computer science is now included as an EBacc subject and it seem that this is because representatives of this subject were able to put forward a good case for how it IS rigorous and therefore should be included in the EBacc.

So, musicians, a challenge for you.

If we were to put forward a justification for music to be elevated to the same level and valued as much as these esteemed listed above, should we? If so, what evidence would we put forward to convince those at the top that the study of music is in fact sufficiently rigorous?

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