The John Lewis Christmas Advert and the Plight of Music Education in the UK – an insight from Millers Music


Here is a powerful insight from MIA Member Millers Music into the importance of children being given the opportunity to learn to play music (highlighted by this years John Lewis Christmas advert). It also includes some thoughts from our industry charity, Music for All. 

Having supported Music Education with a give away of 21 Pianos to schools in the region in 2017 and the largest music lesson on Learn to Play Day 2018 where 240 people learned a musical instrument, Millers are dedicated to the plight of Music Education.

This follows on from our article ‘The gift of John Lewis, Elton John and buying a musical instrument

The John Lewis Christmas Advert always showcases a heartfelt message and this year is no different. Elton John is shown throughout his magnificent career on stage and on tour, but the heart of the advert is the younger Elton – surrounded by his family, performing at school and receiving a piano for Christmas. Musicians throughout the country have known the gift of music for years, but unfortunately, the number of young children learning instruments in schools is dwindling: it looks like that gift may soon be left for only a select few.

Music Education in the UK has been suffering for many years with a lack of resources. Gone are the days when every child received music lessons in school and had the opportunity to learn an instrument. Research from The Musicians Union reveals “families with a total income of less than £28k are half as likely to have a child learning an instrument as more affluent peers with a family income of £48k,” even though both groups show a similar level of interest. There is extensive research into the impact of learning an instrument on a child’s cognitive ability, socialisation and emotional development – with 48% of children with parents who attended university learning an instrument compared to 21% of parents educated only up to secondary school, the disparity of opportunity is clear. Paul McManus, Chief Executive of the Music For All charity believes that “years of budget cuts have created a situation in many parts of the country where learning a musical instrument is the preserve of those fortunate to be able to afford it. Our charity does all it can to help those who do not have access to learning and playing an instrument.”

Millers Music has been supporting Music Education for many years and the feedback from events and giveaways has put everything in perspective for Simon Pollard, MD of Millers. He comments “Music Teachers and Schools in the region are often reaching out to us to
help them with provisions to provide bursaries and instruments to students who have shown an interest in learning an instrument as they simply do not have the resources. The Music Industry needs to lead the charge and we have been campaigning for changes to the English Baccalaureate that has seen a negative impact on the provision and uptake of music in our schools. The Music Industry, musicians and parents must come together and ensure children regardless of where they live or what school they go to have the opportunity to learn an instrument and reap the rewards of doing so.”

The John Lewis Christmas Advert has shone a light on the impact learning a musical instrument can have on someone’s life. Not all those who play the piano will become a worldwide performer but it can improve their health and social interaction skills in ways that
will help them in all aspects of their lives for years to come. Millers Music would like to thank everyone behind the advert for shining a light on the gift of music, and hopes that children up and down the country will be given the same opportunity as Elton John, showcased so poignantly by John Lewis this Christmas.