‘Music is absolutely essential to our existence’: saxophonist Jess Gillam

11 February 2019, 14:46

Jess Gillam believes every child should experience the magic of music
Jess Gillam believes every child should experience the magic of music. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

Following her moving performance of ‘Love Story’ at the Baftas yesterday evening, the talented musician wrote a passionate letter to The Guardian newspaper

Jess Gillam is one of the most exciting young musicians of today. Last year she became the first ever saxophonist to sign a record deal with Decca, and last night she performed at the Baftas.

Today she published a letter in The Guardian explaining why music is "essential to our existence".

In the letter, she says: "Music is part of the fabric of our society; it sits at the heart of human experience and enriches so many lives. Why, then, is it not central to our education system? This is a question I recently posed to an all-party parliamentary group on music education.

"I am 20 years old and began playing saxophone, aged seven, at the Barracudas Carnival Band in Barrow-in-Furness. The funding for the centre has now been cut. I took part in the primary tuition scheme, aged 11. The funding for the scheme has now been cut. It is a running theme across the country."

The Government has been under fire over the past months for a decline in the number of students studying music at GCSE and A level – something that teachers and music professionals blame on the English Baccalaureate – and reports of music clubs and services being cut across the country.

"Until music is held in the same regard as the 'core' subjects of our curriculum, our society will be worse off.

"We need joy, empathy and hope on this planet more than ever, and depriving children of the opportunity to develop musical skills is to set ourselves up for a fall."

The saxophonist concludes: "Music has changed my life. It is a huge part of who I am. I have learned so much about the world through music and the inspiring figures I have met through it. I feel I have a duty to help ensure that others can benefit from its magic. Let us make it available to every single child."

Find out more about Jess Gillam here >