Home Activities Charity launches Music Makers’ Charter campaign to improve access to music making in the UK

Charity launches Music Makers’ Charter campaign to improve access to music making in the UK

by Kirsty Kirsty

Charity Music for All are calling upon organisations and influencers in the health industry to join them and pledge their support to improving music making access for everyone in the UK with the launch of the Music Makers’ Charter campaign.

The campaign has come at a time where music making opportunities are under real threat. Government cuts to the arts in recent years have resulted in many primary schools failing to meet basic music curriculum needs for young people1 – and there is a lack of recognition and overall understanding on the power of music to improve everyone’s health and wellbeing, and economy and society as a whole.

To draw attention to the decreasing opportunities in music making, Music for All are launching the Music Makers’ Charter highlighting the enormous benefits and current challenges of making music and to galvanise those interested in music, education, health and social care to join together and demand greater access to music making. The Music Makers’ Charter is asking supporters to call for:

  • Greater recognition of the powerful benefits of music making on health, wellbeing and society
  • More investment in music making opportunities in formal and informal settings
  • Increased support for disadvantaged individuals and groups wanting to access music making

Sonali Banerjee, General Manager of Music All explains: “We believe that music making is fast becoming elitist. Sadly only those who can afford to make music out of the classroom can have access to music lessons in the UK. The positive impact of using music to support and enhance mental and physical health throughout people’s lives has long been documented in numerous academic and social research, however there is a serious lack of acknowledgement with policy makers to make music making accessible for everyone.

Sonali Banerjee continues: Our new campaign, the Music Makers’ Charter, is set out to promote the various benefits of music making and to demonstrate how music making is an essential role in maintaining a successful and healthy society, as well as highlighting the harsh realities for would-be music makers in the UK.”

A recent report ‘Power of Music’ by UK Music and Music for Dementia highlights and supports the significant health benefits music can have on people’s lives;

  • Music therapy can reduce agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia, significantly reducing the spend on anti-psychotic medication2
  • Music can ease stress in both physiological and psychological outcomes. This has been proved by reducing stress for patients undergoing surgeries and colonoscopies, for children undergoing medical procedures and for patients with coronary heart disease3
  • Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain; it can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for a remedy of some speech and language skill4
  • Research proves that when someone listens to music they like, their brain releases dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitter5
  • Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout. Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortex6
  • People who spent 30 minutes or more each day during the pandemic on arts activities such as listening to music, had lower reported rates of depression and anxiety and greater life satisfaction7

There is scientific evidence that people who engage with the arts are more likely to lead healthier lives, including eating healthily and staying physically active, irrespective of their socioeconomic status and social capital.

Sounds Better CIC is an organisation that harnesses the power of participatory music to enable change within individuals, institutions and in relationships between people. They work with people who suffer with long term conditions such as dementia and lung conditions, people with learning difficulties and people who wish to incorporate participatory music-making into their work. Music for All were able to support the organisation in setting up an inclusive music group for people living with dementia in rural Wiltshire

Their Co-Director has said: ‘These person-centred activities brought joy and connection to people living with dementia and the people who care for them. It is so important that access to music making is available for everyone, particularly those with long-term illnesses where we can see a significant shift in quality of life.”

Music for All has been helping disadvantaged individuals, charities, community groups and schools to access music making for over 25 years. During 2023/24 they awarded £118,000 in cash grants and donated 100 instruments, directly benefiting over 11,000 people across the UK.

Tony Followell, Music for All Chair of Trustees, explains: “Our charity’s growth sits in the context of a worrying and widening gulf between our understanding of the power of music to improve our health, wellbeing, education, economy and social cohesion, and the harsh realities faced by aspiring music makers. The cost-of-living crisis, an overstretched healthcare system and under-valued music education services are all significant contributing factors. Now is the time to get vocal and unify support for funding music making.”

By launching the Music Makers’ Charter campaign, Music for All are determined to close the widening gap between policy makers and music makers and draw attention to the extensive benefits of supporting music makers. They will demonstrate their commitment to the Music Makers’ Charter by taking the following actions over the next 12 months.

  • Provide up to 1,000 free music lessons during the Learn to Play events across the UK    
  • Donate over 200 Instruments to disadvantaged individuals/groups      
  • Provide access to research resources to educators, healthcare professionals and others to highlight the considerable benefits of making music    
  • Award over £155K in music making cash grants to deprived and marginalised communities and individuals across the UK    
  • Award over £56K in music making cash grants to educational establishments supporting the music making capability of their pupils.

Emanuel J Burton, Little Simz Drummer, Musician and Music for All ambassador is supporting the Music Makers’ Charter:

 “I stand wholeheartedly with the Music Makers’ Charter campaign. Music is a universal language that unites us all, transcending age, background, and ability. Everyone deserves the right to access, create, and express themselves through music. I believe that music has the power to enhance education, health, and well-being, and these benefits should be more widely recognized and utilised. Please join this campaign and help bring more music making into everyone’s life. Together, we can make a difference.

To join Music for All in pledging your support to the Music Makers’ Charter organisations and individuals simply need to sign the petition on the Music for All’s website. There is also the option to state your commitment to improving access to music making in the UK on the website. Music for All welcomes all commitments, no matter how big or small.

The UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark is in support of the Music Makers’ Charter: “We are very aware of the fantastic work that Music for All has been doing to support musical learning through grants and the donation of instruments over the past 25 years or so. This is certainly something to celebrate as it has provided so many transformational opportunities which would not have happened without their support. However, we agree that there is more that can be done to provide equitable access to music education and therefore we fully support this new Music Makers’ Charter Campaign and urge anyone else to do so.”

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