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Lockdown transforming instrument tuition with 87% UK music teachers adapting to online teaching, survey shows

3 years ago

Lockdown has transformed the way in which UK music teachers deliver instrument tuition, with 87% of them adapting lessons for delivery online, an ABRSM survey reveals.

The survey also shows how more than a third of learners are actually progressing better than would otherwise have been expected (ie without the effect of lockdown). It highlights too how parents are getting more involved with their offspring’s music lessons but warns that poor broadband, issues accessing instruments and internet for learners from disadvantaged background and job insecurity for some teachers remain challenges for music tuition in the Covid-19 era.

The ABRSM, one of the UK’s leading music education organisations, conducted the Teacher Voices Survey of 300 customers and examiners who work as instrumental music teachers as part of evidence for submission to an Education and DCMS Select Committees inquiry into the impact of Covid-19.

Key survey findings show that:

  • 87% of examiners/teachers have been able to effectively adapt to online teaching, with 39% of teachers reporting that their learners have made better progress than normal.
  • Many teachers report an improved relationship with parents who have developed a better understanding of the value of music lessons and are now better able to support learners when they are practising their instrument.
  • Both teachers and learners have encountered barriers to effective online music lessons. The biggest block appears to be intermittent internet access in some areas, and poor-quality audio from video conferencing software – 41% teachers say this was an issue for their pupils.
  • Some learners are also struggling because they may not have access to an instrument or a quiet place in which to have their lesson undisturbed.
  • Teachers who have been unable to continue teaching may need to rely on government financial support schemes until face to face lessons can resume.

ABRSM Chief Executive Michael Elliott said: “Lockdown is having some positive effects on music education in the UK. It has shown the adaptability of our music teaching colleagues and suggests that music pupils are devoting some of their extra spare time to practice and making greater than expected progress as a result.

“It is also inspiring a change in the way in which parents engage with their child’s education and this is really encouraging. We must seize the opportunities these developments present and, more broadly, work as a sector with government to better understand how technology can be successfully used to provide access to music tuition and to support even greater progress.

“More immediately we must address some of the fundamental and urgent challenges faced by music students and instrumental teachers as a result of this unprecedented time.”

Comments from teachers taking part in the survey show how parents have appreciated the impact of music lessons during lockdown. One teacher told the survey: “I have received numerous emails from parents mentioning that it has really helped to have some normality in their child’s life and they are very grateful for this opportunity.”

They also show how the lockdown has inspired permanent changes in the way many teachers give lessons. Another respondent said: “I'm glad this has given me the opportunity to get used to it … I will continue to offer both face-to-face and online lessons after lockdown.”

ABRSM is urging the UK government to widen 4G access and extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme as part of a seven-point plan to address challenges highlighted by the survey and to support music learners and instrumental music teachers through lockdown and beyond.



Note to editors

1. Established in 1889, ABRSM is the UK’s largest music education organisation, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams, offering assessments to more than 600,000 candidates in over 90 countries every year. ABRSM’s mission is to inspire achievement in music. It does this globally by supporting music teaching and learning worldwide in partnership with four Royal Schools of Music: the Royal Academy of Music; Royal College of Music; Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

2. ABRSM has made the following seven recommendations to government on the basis of the Teacher Voices survey:

- Extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme to October, in line with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

- Move quickly to improve the broadband infrastructure everywhere as promised in the 2020 budget and expand access to devices and 4G internet to disadvantaged learners from all year groups who need it until schools can reopen.

- Return learners to schools as soon as it is safe to do so in order to limit the potential disadvantage.

- Investigate and provide guidance for music groups on how they can return to face to face rehearsals and performances as the lockdown eases.

- Encourage schools to re-establish all creative arts classes, including extra-curricular activities such as instrumental lessons as soon as it is safe to do so, ensuring learners do not lose out.

- Deliver research to understand changes in parental attitude towards education during the lockdown and whether any lessons can be learned about how to engage with parents more effectively in the future.

- Support further research to identify best practice in the use of technology in music education and to embed this into the next National Plan for Music Education.

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