Are certain instruments becoming endangered species? Research commissioned by London’s Royal Albert Hall, which hosts the largest classical music festival in the world, the BBC Proms, has shown that in a poll of 1000 children, only one percent nominated oboe, French horn, cor anglais, bassoon or contrabassoon as instruments that they either play or would like to play. A third of the polled children nominated the guitar, while 15 percent chose the keyboard. The survey also showed that 20 percent of the children who did study a musical instrument were taught via online tutorials.
“Encouraging the next generation to take more of an interest in classical instruments is crucial to their survival,” the Royal Albert Hall’s Artistic and Commercial Director Lucy Noble said. “If more is not done to promote the playing of these instruments we risk seeing them disappear from schools, stages, studios and screen.”
“The future of any instrument is only as strong as the next generation of people willing to learn it,” she said. “It would be a huge shame if any of these fantastic instruments were to become extinct.”
Noble attributed part of the problem to the ways in which children’s experience of music has changed over the last 15 years. “It used to be the case that to experience music one had to see it live,” she told the UK’s The Sunday Telegraph. “However, the advent of online video means that many are watching videos without being exposed to the production behind the music.”
Noble also criticised the UK Government’s policy of making it compulsory for students to take at least one science subject up to the GCSE level, while music and arts subjects can be dropped by age 14, the Evening Express reported.
In The Sunday Telegraph’s report, Noble framed the lack of interest in less well-known instruments as part of a broader environment in which politicians do not place value on music and the arts. “If I was in government, I would ensure it is at the heart of things,” Noble said.