I have just finished working in Kuwait and I am reflecting on the successes and weaknesses that I encountered in this very large British international school.
One of the biggest successes was the National Anthem Bands. By law, every child in Kuwait must sing the Kuwaiti National Anthem before starting lessons. We went one better and got many children to play the national anthem on their instruments. This meant that every child brought their instrument to school every single day and practiced at least something. A few teachers got this to become a more dedicated practice time and one managed to get the carpentry team to install outdoor music stands so woodwind pupils could practice. The band was also something that the children could join when they had made some good progress on their First Access instrumental courses in recorders, violins, clarinets and trumpets.
I wish in the UK we could emulate this and go back fifty years and insist all children sing the National Anthem of Great Britain. However, it would probably end up in riots in Scotland, Ireland and Wales so I can understand why it will never happen! Nonetheless, it is getting worrying that so many children don’t know the words of their own National Anthem. It seems the only ones who do are football fanatics.
If we could emulate this idea from Kuwait, I am absolutely certain it would improve performing standards in Britain. There are instruments in the UK and there are children who have the desire to play them but we need to provide simple ensembles that don’t take up too much time as children are very busy with many different activities through the week. The biggest fear is it would become yet another chore for music teachers to grind through. But the principle is a good one. Every child bringing their instrument into school every day and practicing every single morning. Most music teachers would be delighted with that.
And if they can do it in Kuwait, why can’t we?