Indian classical, Bollywood, Bhangra in England’s new music curriculum

London: Indian classical music, Bollywood hits and Bhangra beats are among the diverse musical traditions included in England”s new music curriculum guidance for schools launched on Friday.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the plan for all schools in England is aimed at giving more young people the opportunity to listen to and learn about music through the ages and across cultures.

Kishori Amonkar’s ‘Saheli Re’, Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Indian Summer’, A R Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ and Bollywood box-office hit ‘Munni Badnam Hui’ are among the Indian musical references included in the DfE guidance for schools.

“It is important to recognise that modern British identity is rich and diverse, resulting in communities which celebrate and explore their own specific, localised ‘cultural capital’,” notes the guidance.

“Kishori Amonkar was one of the leading vocalists of Indian classical music in the 20th century. Amonkar’s approach to music emphasised the spiritual as articulated in her statement that ‘To me it [music] is a dialogue with the divine, this intense focused communication with the ultimate other’. Further listening might include performances where the melody is instrumental, such as the music of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar,” it notes.

In reference to composer Lalit Pandit’s ‘Munni Badnam Hui’ from the 2010 box-office hit ‘Dabangg’, the guidance adds: “Item numbers feature in Bollywood movies without pertaining to the plot, and while the protagonist, policeman Chulbul, enters this song the main performer/producer, Malaika Arora, only appears in this number. “

“The song includes many typical features of Bollywood films in its music, dance and colourful visuals,” the guidance says.

The DfE said its Model Music Curriculum has been developed by a panel of 15 music education specialists – teachers, education leaders and musicians from across the UK.

As well as ensuring all pupils can benefit from knowledge-rich and diverse lessons, it is expected to make it easier for teachers to plan lessons and help to reduce workload by providing a structured outline of what can be taught in each year group. Case studies are provided as part of the plan to clearly demonstrate how teachers can combine knowledge, skills and understanding in a practical way.

“After the most difficult of years, it’s time for a musical renaissance across England’s schools and I hope this will inspire a new generation of musicians,” said School Standards Minister Nick Gibb.

“A rich variety of music should be part of the daily life of every school. We want all schools to have a rigorous and broad music curriculum, that inspires their pupils to love music, and stands alongside high levels of academic attainment,” he said.

The aim is for pupils to cover a vast range of genres and styles, from historically important composers such as Vivaldi and Scott Joplin, world-renowned pieces like Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’, Mozart and Bach to The Beatles and Whitney Houston.

Pupils will be encouraged to listen to classical music such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Rock n Roll songs from Little Richard and Elvis Presley, jazz from Nina Simone and modern classics such as Queen.

“Music unites people and communities – and gives great joy and comfort. In schools, it brings together young people through the shared endeavour of whole school singing, ensemble playing, experimenting with the creative process and through the love of listening to friends performing,” said Veronica Wadley (Baroness Fleet), Chair of the expert panel behind the music curriculum.

“The new curriculum, with its year-by-year guidance, is designed to help schools provide high-quality music education for all pupils and reinforces the important role that music plays as part of a broad and balanced curriculum for all children,” she said.The DfE said it has also committed 79 million pounds in the 2021-22 financial year for Music Education Hubs, which provide pupils with instruments to play in class, and 1 million pounds for charities which teach pupils about different styles of music.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage added: “The importance of arts and culture in children’s education cannot be overstated. Music has helped many of us through the challenges of the past year in how it connects, inspires and entertains.

“I am delighted this new curriculum will mean all children have access to a high-quality music education. This will help bring through a whole new generation of talented musicians.”