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Today's kids 'more likely to be able to play a musical instrument than their parents'

Laura  Barnes
Today's kids 'more likely to be able to play a musical instrument than their parents'

New research from Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham has revealed that today’s secondary school children are more likely to learn an instrument than their parents or grandparents were at the same age.

The research found that two-thirds (67%) of 11-16 year olds have learnt or are learning an instrument, compared with 61% of the generations before them.

The findings also revealed which instruments are most popular with children across the UK, giving a glimpse as to what the orchestra of tomorrow will likely be comprised of.

Of those who had learnt/were learning an instrument, 36% played an orchestral instrument (compared with 27% of their parents/grandparents), with the most popular being the violin (18%).
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37% were learning the piano/keyboard, making it the most popular instrument above even the guitar (36%).

More broadly, the results gave a clear indication of which instruments were most popular across the different regions of the UK, suggesting where the ‘orchestra of tomorrow’ may be coming from.

London – a hotbed of musical diversity, kids in London are the most likely to play the piano (with 29% of U21s having learnt at some point, or currently learning), recorder (21%), harp (2%), or bass (3%), and to sing well (8%).

West Mids – outside London, the next most musical group are the people of Brum and the surrounding area. 3% of kids can play the cello, and this is also the place you are most likely to find a bassoonist (1%), oboist (1%) or organist (3%).

East of England – A jazz vibe appears to radiate from the East as this is where you’d most likely find a saxophonist (3%), guitarist (23%) or trombonist (3%).

Scotland – Nicola Benedetti appears to have inspired a wave of Scottish kids, with 11% of kids having learnt, or are learning the violin. Meanwhile, 9% of kids have also tried/are trying the drums.

Everywhere else – trumpeters will be coming from the North West (4% of kids are learning or have learnt), clarinets from Yorkshire (6%), violas from the East Mids (2%), flutes from the South West (6%) and the harp from Wales (3%).

The results come as THSH launches a campaign to encourage more kids to listen to live classical music. Currently, all accompanied under-16 year olds can attend Birmingham Classical season performances for free.

Richard Hawley, Head of Artistic Programming at Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham commented: “These results point to a bright future – it appears that there are more children than ever playing and engaging with music, which is a trend that’s getting stronger. The research also hints at the important role music plays in the lives of young people, and the legwork that families are doing now - be it through lessons or putting up with the sounds of someone practising – for what will become a lifelong passion.

“The icing on the cake, of course, is to come and see the professionals doing what they do on stage, and we at THSH are proudly doing our bit to make it free for under-16s to do this.”

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Tags: musical education , learning an instrument , THSH

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