New figures reveal instrument crisis

ABRSM exam figures fuel fears that some instruments could die out because too few people are learning them.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music reports that only 379 tuba exams were taken in 2009, making it the least popular instrument. The euphonium was second to last, with 651 exams.

These figures are poor in comparison with those for more popular instruments such as the piano, which attracted 124,090 exams in the same period.

In an article in The Classic FM Magazine, journalist Iain Rushworth investigates whether or not some instruments are in danger of dying out. He quotes Richard Crozier, the director of professional development at the ABRSM, as saying, “Certainly lessons are more readily available for instruments such as the piano and violin, and potential players don’t have so much exposure to lesser-known instruments.”

Rushworth cites Karen Geoghehan as an individual who is bucking the trend. On her third album as a solo bassoonist, she says:

“The violin always seemed like a bit of a chore to me, and I really wasn’t very good at all. But everything seemed very natural with the bassoon, so it quickly replaced the violin!”

To read the full article, and many others, look out for the jam-packed December issue of the Classic FM Magazine, out soon.