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Do music teams work most effectively?

england-football-teamThe world cup continues to chug on, and recent England results have highlighted the importance of playing as a team to achieve excellent results. We often believe only SPORTS teams work well in teams, and there is no doubt that there are some exceptional TEAMS. However, there are many team building skills that are acquired by participating in music.

On Saturday, I was involved in the organisation for an outstanding concert given by the Mid-Hertfordshire Orchestra. I am a trustee of the Mid-Hertfordshire Music Trust. One of the conductors was a recipient of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; the other conductors and tutors, distinguished musicians. The orchestra were made up of school children who performed a variety of classical orchestral pieces to a great standard. Their skill in performing the work as well as working as a team was to be applauded.

Opportunities like this are partly funded by the local authority, who assist in running local music services. But experiences and nurturing talent, like they do at The Mid-Herts Music Centre, relies on fees from parents, a team of volunteers and a dedicated team of talented teachers who go above and beyond their job descriptions.

The skills that the children develop are not JUST musical skills, but a variety of life skills that make them more employable when they join the workforce. The children learn to be part of a team, to communicate verbally and non-verbally. They listen, they watch, they work towards a joint task. They have great time management skills; and they work towards deadlines. What fantastic opportunities these activities provide these students.

I am sure some people are thinking: these are privileged students, living in Hertfordshire. Whilst I agree that the standard of living for many people is higher than some other parts of the country, the orchestra does not, by any means consist of ‘privileged’ children, and a  number of people living in Hertfordshire struggle financially with the high property prices. These activities are supported by parents that make the choice to pay for this activity over going on holiday, or buying a new coat.

Music provides invaluable experiences and develops skills for students, to prepare them for the workplace, yet more and more, in this country, music and the performing arts are being seen as a luxury expense, that only the rich pay for. The Music industry generates nearly £4 Billion pounds in revenue each year. This doesn’t include tourists that buy tickets to see our world class orchestras, opera and ballet. Yet the Government is currently recommending that local authorities cease funding of music services, which will mean that fewer children will have expert visiting teachers to lead singing, bands and concerts in school; that parents will have to pay, and many children will not have the opportunity to develop invaluable skills acquired through performing with others.

This country believes sport is the way forward. Of course for health reasons we must all exercise more, but the health benefits of singing with others is well documented. BUT given the risible performance of the England football “Team” who in my opinion did not demonstrate performing as a team, we as a nation need to consider other ways of developing good team practice. And music is the way forward.

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