Reviewing the Henley Report—Part One

Very recently, Darren Henley published an expansive report on the state of music education in the United Kingdom. It’s definitely worth a read, if you can spare the time. In the report, Mr. Henley makes several observations that parallel the current situation in the United States, and makes several recommendations that would be worth investigating on this side of the pond.

This is a fairly expansive report, so I’ll be reviewing it section by section.

Section One—Introduction

In section 1.10, Henley states:

…in nearly all of the verbal evidence sessions undertaken as part of this Review, which quickly began to sound like a rather unsatisfactory weather forecast. I was told time and time again that Music Education in England was ‘good in places, but distinctly patchy’…
Sounds awful similar to the state of music education here in the United States.We’ve got communities scattered across the country who embrace and understand the importance of music education. Conversely, we also have communities who look at music as something to cut in order to maintain funding for the “core” classes.
Henley gets a little more specific in his observations in section 1.12:
Where Music Education is delivered at its best, money from central government and Local Authorities is harnessed together alongside imaginative use of school budgets and exciting collaborations with arts organisations. The best Music Education comes about through partnership; no one teacher, performer, school, organisation, group or body has all of the requisite skills to deliver every part of a
rounded Music Education to every child.
For a school music education program to be successful, everybody has to buy into the concept. Faculty, students, parents, community, local, state and federal government. It’s not enough to just throw money at a program. This exchange of ideas and resources means that the students who reside in such a community are getting the best music education possible. If a school’s music offerings aren’t enough to satisfy the desires of a student, then the community can step in and offer something different. Community members can also offer suggestions on the direction of a school music program, and can be brought in as guest clinicians as well.

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