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A study commissioned by Youth Music and carried out by Birmingham City University has investigated how a change in music education can improve the attendance of struggling students.

974 students aged between 11 and 15 participated in the project, called Exchanging Notes, which replaced the classical music found in the music more commonly found in the curriculum with electronic, grime and hip-hop.  Composers like Mozart were replaced with contemporary artists like Stormzy.  Participants were also able to engage with the music industry and local musical projects.

163 of these pupils had their attendance and grades monitored throughout the project.  The study revealed that those who were at risk of expulsion at the beginning had attendance levels of around 95% at the end.

The study also suggested that performance in other subjects, such as English and Maths, improved along with music.  The project could highlight how an enthusiasm for one subject might generally improve motivation for all studies.

Youth Music has since announced that it would like an “urgent” transformation in the way Music is taught in schools.  It feels that content should be “more relevant and inclusive” in order to maximize the positive effect the subject can have on students.

Music applicants might reflect on the value of studying classical music, whilst Education applicants might think about how changing the curriculum to make it more inclusive – and more contemporary – could affect the performance and enthusiasm of pupils.

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