The Value of Music

Updated: May 22, 2020

The value of music, and the relationship of curriculum music to other aspects of a full and rounded music education.


Background context

The value of an effective music education has been recognised by all societies over the centuries, and at the highest level of philosophical and educational debate. Rather than crudely try to summarise the value of music education, this introduction will focus on how curriculum music relates to other aspects of an effective music education. Nevertheless, it might be useful to frame this thinking with a reminder of some of the quotes about music and arts education that have been published in various recent national documents, including the National Plan for Music Education, the Cultural Review, and the National Curriculum for 2014.


Music has a power of forming the character and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young. (Aristotle)


Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything... Without music, life would be an error. (Plato)


[Both quoted in the National Plan for Music Education]


The arts are the highest form of human achievement. Through art we not only make sense of ourselves and the world, we also make our lives enchanted. Art allows us to celebrate our common humanity and communicate across boundaries. Artistic endeavour marks us out from the rest of nature as creators and celebrators of beauty. That is why no education can be complete, indeed no programme of education can even begin, without making the arts and creativity central to a child's life.

[Opening statement of the government’s ‘Cultural Education’, 2013]


Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.

[Purpose of Study, national curriculum music,2014]


While these are noble sentiments, they do not give us a framework to make sure that our provision properly gives students the full range of appropriate experiences in what is a multi-faceted subject.


Author: Kevin Rogers