Last week I had the honor of serving as Co-Chair, with Nicholas Kenyon, of a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar titled, “Instrumental Value: The Transformative Power of Music.”  Nearly 60 people from 23 countries traveled to Salzburg where we met for four days to discuss the ways that music contributes to individuals, societies and cultures.  Participants were musicians, composers, presenters, music educators, policymakers, funders and patrons, neuroscientists, and others who’ve spent a lifetime in the music field.  Lively discussions about the intrinsic value of music, about music and youth development, music and creativity, music and spirituality, and music and the brain occupied us for days and nights, fueled by the beauty of the unfolding alpine spring and by the musical history of the city of Salzburg.

By the end of our session we agreed to issue a statement asserting our shared belief that music “is a proven gateway to engaged citizenship, personal development and well-being” and that “the inspiration and rewards unleashed by music are universal benefits that must be available to all as a human right.”  Here is the full text of our statement, along with the signatories.  Please share it with those in a position to ensure continued access to music education and participation.

“The Value of Music: The Right to Play”

“The Salzburg Global Seminar meeting on The Transformative Power of Music believes that music is a proven gateway to engaged citizenship, personal development and well-being. Only through urgent and sustained action can we foster a new generation of energised, committed, self-aware, creative and productive members of society.

“ The inspiration and rewards unleashed by music are universal benefits that must be available to all as a human right. All children from the earliest age should have the opportunity to:

• unlock musical creativity,

• fulfil musical potential,

• develop musical expertise,

• shine for their musical achievements,

• encounter great music from all cultures, and

• share their new-found skills of creativity, teamwork, empathy, and discipline.

Providing these opportunities should be the responsibility of society supported by the education system, arts organisations, media and funding bodies working together. There are vital needs for:

• music education for all from the earliest age by experienced teachers,

• affordable access to training at all levels of ability,

• supportive communities nurturing children regardless of background – geographic, socio-economic, cultural,

• sustainable financial resources providing reliable support, and

• pathways to pursue excellence.

“Best practice models exist around the world, which show how this can be achieved.

“The future of music education is at risk.  Our youth deserves an immediate commitment to music as part of the core education curriculum.  There must be funding for youth music programs as part of a healthy and diverse society. We call on all governments, politicians, international agencies, educators, funders, and citizens to:

• assert the essential place of music in schools,

• support the development of new pathways for young musical talent,

• ensure that organisations offering these opportunities to young people are sustained and developed, and

• foster co-ordination between private and public agencies for support.”