Nicola Benedetti hits out at lack of musical education

NICOLA Benedetti has hit out at a lack of musical education in schools, claiming that children are missing out on opportunities for a better life.
Nicola Benedetti said she had heard hundreds of stories about how music had improved peoples lives. Picture: John DevlinNicola Benedetti said she had heard hundreds of stories about how music had improved peoples lives. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Benedetti said she had heard hundreds of stories about how music had improved peoples lives. Picture: John Devlin

The world-renowned Scottish classical violinist, who was born in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, said she had heard “hundreds” of stories about how music had improved people’s lives.

But Benedetti suggested, speaking in a newspaper interview, that some schools are falling short of the mark.

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Her comments come just days before she is to begin a three-day residency in Perth, working with local children and the Sistema Big Noise orchestra from Stirling.

She said: “[Music gives] a dimension to education that tackles people’s internal life rather than just prepares them for a job.

“It may seem airy-fairy and idealistic to even discuss that, but if we are not dealing with your wellbeing, then what are you working towards in life?”

“It’s not some kind of a magic solution, but it helps us deal with the endless list of challenges - emotional challenges, more than anything else - that people experience in their lives.”

She added: “If education doesn’t seriously tackle that, then we have to look at ourselves and work out what our intentions are.

“I could tell you a hundred stories of parents, teachers and children who have told me about how their life has become more enjoyable, just functioning better, since they began.

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“You just think, ‘How many stories like this do you need to hear before somebody says ‘OK, this is something we should be giving to everybody?’”

Benedetti has long campaigned for an increase in musical education for children, she previously spoke out against a spending squeeze on music tuition in schools arguing that such cuts are “catastrophic to our future as a nation”.

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Benedetti regularly takes time out to feed into children’s musical education, even though she has an incredibly hectic performance schedule.

So busy is Benedetti that she has to plan her life two years in advance.

She revealed: “I’ve been putting off speaking to my manager for ages, poor woman, and she’s desperate for me to reply to a bunch of questions about March 2017.

“I’m just looking at it like ‘I do not want to deal with that,’ because I just don’t know.”

Alongside her comments on musical education Benedetti spoke of her worries about playing music with her long-term partner, the cellist Leonard Elschenbroich.

She said: “The fact that we know each other so well and understand each other so much meant that we ended up having to work out a way to slightly distance ourselves from each other on stage.

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“A lot of the time you can over-analyse, become too sensitive to things. I think that can happen when you are on stage with someone you deeply care about.”

Benedetti continues to juggle multiple educational outreach projects having formed associations with education establishments including schools, music colleges and local authorities.

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She has even developed her own education and outreach initiative entitled “The Benedetti Sessions” which aims to give hundreds of aspiring young string players the opportunity to rehearse, undertake and observe master classes.

• Nicola Benedetti is due to perform at Perth Concert Hall on October 23, 24 and 25