Redefining Music Education

Reframing the conversation around music education in the UK

CMU Insights has partnered with Urban Development and BIMM on a major piece of new research reviewing the state of music education in the UK. The project will investigate how business and entrepreneurial skills could be better incorporated into the music and wider arts curriculum, and how doing so could help make a stronger case for increased investment in these subjects.

The project was formally launched at the first edition of the Music Education Conference as part of The Great Escape in May 2018. You can download the presentation delivered as part of that conference here. Based on the conversations that occured at that conference, a detailed brief for the project will now be developed, with more information on the next phase of the project appearing here soon.

CMU Insights is currently seeking companies and organisations that would like to contribute to this research as partners, sponsors or participants. For more information email

CMU Insights believes that industry and entrepreneurial skills – and practical careers advice – should be incorporated into the music and wider arts curriculum. Doing this will…

1. Better prepare young people to pursue careers in the music and creative industries.

2. Provide young people with the kind of transferable media, communication and IP skills that are increasingly important in the social media age.

3. Ensure that music education is truly providing the next generation of creatives and business leaders for the music industry.

It is no secret that music education in England is suffering due to funding cuts and the down-grading of creative subjects in the way schools are assessed. We believe that our agenda would reframe the music education conversation with political decision makers.

Because by more closely allying music education and the music industry, any investment in the former will become an investment in the latter. Our agenda creates an economic as well as social and cultural case for increased funding in arts education.

However, achieving our agenda requires answering three key questions.

1. What industry and entrepreneurial skills should be taught?

2. How do we make this happen – given many schools are already struggling to deliver the current music curriculum? What resources and support would schools and teachers need and how can we secure it?

3. How do we get everyone’s buy in to this agenda – including educators, the industry and government?

Phase one of ‘Rethinking Music Education’ will consider four topics. This work will then inform the debate at The Education Conference in May. They are as follows…

1. What do we even mean by music education?
We will review the education services provided by schools, music hubs, music schools, colleges, universities, conservatoires, and industry-led career, education and apprenticeship initiatives.

2. What jobs are available in music?
The role of the performer in the music industry is the very visible tip of a giant iceberg of economic activity. We will look beneath the surface at the many creative and commercial jobs available, and consider how music educators could better inform young people about all the opportunities out there.

3. What skills do music industry employers need today?
We will ask labels, publishers, promoters, managers, marketers and digital music companies what they are looking for when recruiting new talent.

4. What knowledge do artists need to succeed?
We will ask music makers – artists, session musicians, songwriters and record producers – what they wish they had known when starting out their music careers, and what practical skills you need to make a living out of music today.