A comprehensive study undertaken by the UK's ABRSM finds shifting trends from traditional to pop instruments


The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music has today published its Making Music survey of learning, progression and teaching of musical instruments, billed as ‘the most comprehensive’ study of its kind ever undertaken in the UK.

The report includes some encouraging findings: 76 per cent of children aged between 5 and 14 say they ‘know how to play’ a musical instrument, compared with just 41 per cent in 1999, and of these 36 per cent are currently having lessons.

However, trends are shifting away from traditional instruments: electric guitar has now overtaken the violin for the first time in the list of the six most popular instruments, while drum kit, bass guitar and electric keyboard have all surged ahead of the likes of woodwind and percussion.

‘Role models are an important factor with almost a quarter of child participants opting to play an instrument after seeing someone else play one,’ says the report. ‘The dominant profile of pop music over other genres in digital and traditional media – coupled with young people’s independent access to these channels – is reflected in the increasing take-up of musical instruments associated with popular music genres.’

The study also suggests that boys and those from poorer backgrounds are more likely to take up pop music instruments, while middle-class families continue to have their children learn brass, string and woodwind instruments in private lessons.

For a full list of statistics visit the Making Music website.

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