Eight in ten parents of children aged between 6-15 (83%) say there is more that could be done to help their children become more interested in orchestral music, according to research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This figure has risen from 79% a year ago.
At a time when music A-level and GCSE entries fell by 4% and 12.5% year-on-year respectively - and with a continued focus on STEM subjects - the figures suggest parents back the importance of music to their children’s development, despite policy challenges.
The top parental concerns related to access to music at school. A third of respondents (37%) felt there needed to be more opportunities for young people to play in orchestras at school – up from 21% a year ago. The same proportion felt there needed to be more music lessons at school (37%, up from 29%), or more school trips to professional orchestral concerts (36%, up from 21% in 2022). Around a quarter of parents (23%) said there should be more visits to schools by professional players and conductors (up from 17%).
Technology also played an important role for many parents. More than a quarter (27%) felt it was important to have more classical music content on social media and YouTube (up from 17% last year), while 15% felt concerts themselves needed to be more accommodating to mobile phone users during concerts – being able to take pictures or share messages with friends.
For some, it was the music itself that was important, with 34% saying their children would engage more with other genres of music beyond classical, crossing over into genres that were already in their world, such as pop or dance music.
Priorities for different groups
Looking more broadly at the responses of all parents with children at home (aged 0-18), there was general consensus that more could be done to encourage young people’s engagement. However, opinions varied on exactly how.
The most strongly held views – the people most likely to want to see change – were among people who described themselves as being longstanding fans of orchestral music. Almost half (41% vs 36% average) wanted to see more opportunities for children to experience playing in an orchestra. This group also wanted to see more music lessons in school (43%) and more school trips to concerts (47%). For parents who were new to the genre, they were more likely to feel their children would respond best to a broad range of orchestral genres beyond the core repertoire.
Regionally, Northern parents were the most outspoken in calling for increased opportunities for young people to participate in school orchestras (43%). Meanwhile, Southern parents led the way in advocating for more school excursions to orchestral concerts (41%), and having more music lessons at school (42%).
Parents of Asian or Asian British descent were more inclined to advocate for enhanced musical experiences in schools. They were the most likely to feel there should be more school trips to concerts (47%), and more opportunities to play in orchestras at school (40%). They were also the most likely to say there needed to be more music lessons at school (39% vs 36).
Parents identifying as Black, Afro-Caribbean, or Black British were the most vocal in advocating for more in-school visits from professional musicians and conductors (28% vs 22 average).
Huw Davies, Deputy Managing Director at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra commented: “Our research consistently finds that young people are among the most likely to be interested in exploring new genres and switched on when it comes to engaging with the orchestral genre. Just how important this positivity and enthusiasm is cannot be understated, not just in producing the next generation of musicians and audiences. Next week, the 2023 Music for Youth Proms celebrates the life-changing impact of music teachers. It is an acknowledgement of the enormous benefits that can be gained from music education, as well as the lifelong pleasure enjoyed by those who receive it. We must never lose sight of these benefits; however, with our obsession with STEM subjects to the detriment of all else, we are losing clarity.
“Through our continued work with schools, community groups and at our concerts, we see first-hand the positive benefits that music brings to young people. We work with some of the most inspirational music teachers and practitioners who transform young people’s lives – from every background, creed and colour – on a daily basis. The future of orchestral music – from musicians to audiences and everything in between – depends on the next generation.”
Ways of getting young people aged 6 to 15 more interested in classical or orchestral music (according to parents of 6-15 year-olds)
|Getting more young people to play in orchestras at school||21%||37%|
|If there were more music lessons at school, where young people could listen to the music||29%||37%|
|More school trips to classical or orchestra concerts||28%||36%|
|If classical music was in the music charts (e.g. UK Top 40)||20%||34%|
|If the music sounded more like pop or dance music||23%||34%|
|If there was more classical music on YouTube and social media||17%||27%|
|Conductors and people who are in orchestras to visit schools more often||14%||23%|
|If it was easier to learn more about classical music outside of school||16%||20%|
|If more celebrities went to classical concerts||11%||19%|
|If people were allowed to use their mobile phones during concerts to take pictures or share messages with their friends (e.g. on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram etc.)||11%||15%|
|If people in orchestras didn't wear a uniform when they perform||10%||9%|
|None of these||10%||7%|
|I don't know||11%||10%|
2023 Music for Youth Proms
On 14 & 15 November, over 3,000 young musicians from across the UK will perform live on-stage at the Royal Albert Hall for two unforgettable nights of music in the biggest and most exciting Music for Youth Proms ever.
The theme for the 2023 Proms and now a national campaign is titled ‘A Thank You Note’. It celebrates the life-changing impact of music teachers and how music unites us all. Musicians young and old, famous and emerging, will come together to thank the music teachers and mentors who have inspired them.
Discover the RPO's 2023–24 season in Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall.
The research was conducted by Sego Research among a nat rep sample of 818 parents of children aged between 6-15 in July 2023, and among a nat rep sample of 802 parents of children aged between 6-15 in May 2022. Both surveys were conducted online.
More information or to arrange interviews contact:
Guy Bellamy / Jim Follett - elephant communications
Tel: 07766 775216 or 07908 551571