Compulsory Music Education

I went to school in England. My school had many different subjects that we had to study for a long time. There was mathematics, science, English, of course, PE (Physical Education i.e. gym class), and many more. Some subjects like those previously mentioned were compulsory all the way until we finished school. Some, however, were optional until a certain point, so we had the choice to continue studying those subjects or not.

In my school, music was a compulsory subject until a certain point, when we could choose to drop it. Personally, I did decide to drop it.

Honestly, the music classes in my secondary school were not that good. We didn’t really learn to play any instruments, nor did we study much music theory. A lot of the time we just watched movies. I vaguely remember when I first started music classes in secondary school, the teacher said that, as he’d just gotten a new sound system for the room or something like that, that he wanted us to watch the Phantom of the Opera to test it.

At the time, watching movies in class was a nice break from lessons, but I think it would have been a better use of our time at school if we actually learned about music instead.

Having said that, I don’t think music should be a compulsory subject at school. The truth is that learning about music is not a necessary life skill, or even a useful one for most people. If you’re interested in music theory, or play an instrument, then taking music lessons could be a good thing, but for many people I’d say it’s actually a waste of time.

Music theory or learning to play an instrument doesn’t help much in life if it’s not one of your major interests or your profession, so forcing children to spend time studying music seems ridiculous to me.

However, I like the idea of music as an optional subject. If it’s optional, then the people who want to pursue music as a career can take it, and the people who have no need for it can pass it up. Since I wasn’t that interested in music theory, I didn’t continue music lessons and chose other subjects that I was more interested in instead. But I think that all those hours I spent in music class were pretty much wasted, because I didn’t have any real need for them or interest in them, and honestly I barely retained anything from them.

For me, and I imagine for a really large number of people, there are a lot of subjects like music, that we are required to study for a certain amount of time because they’re part of the curriculum. But we don’t retain much from them because the lessons aren’t actually useful for most peoples’ lives. Yes, we get a kind of general knowledge that can be a good knowledge foundation when we head out into the world, but it’s not enough for how much time we spend at school.

What we learn when we’re children can really shape the rest of our lives, so we should be making better decisions about our education system.



compulsory (adjective) – required; mandatory; necessary
drop (verb) – to stop doing something or give something up
vaguely (adverb) – in a way that is uncertain; roughly
pass up (phrasal verb) – to not take an opportunity