A recent study performed by the Musicians’ Union (MU) in the UK found that families with a household income below £28,000 (around $36,000) are half as likely to provide a child the opportunity to learn an instrument as families with household income of £48,000 ($61,600 or more). Because childhood interest in learning an instrument is the same, it is strictly for monetary reasons that children from lower income families are not able to learn an instrument. About 41% of these families say lessons are out of their budget. Many of the children from poorer families will attempt to learn on their own but this often leads to incorrect posture, wrong technique, and frustration.
The MU General Secretary states, “With certain children priced out of learning musical instruments, we may well only be hearing the songs and sounds of the affluent in year to come. Those from poorer backgrounds will, unfairly, be increasingly under-represented within the industry.”
The children not learning instruments are also missing out on other positive effects. After their children began lessons, 47% of parents say they saw more confidence in their child, 42% say their child had better concentration, 35% reported their children to be happier overall, and 30% showed higher levels of self-discipline and patience.
We see similar disparity in the US as the cost of music lessons increase and household incomes remain low for many families.