UK Music calls on government to recognise impact of music on wellbeing

UK Music’s chief executive Michael Dugher has appealed to the government to recognised the ‘transformative’ effect music can have on mental health and to the development of young people.

Today (Monday) Dugher gave a keynote speech at music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins’ Social Value of Music conference, where he outlined the importance of music to society.

He highlighted that UK Music’s Music By Numbers report – published on 20 November – revealed the UK music industry now contributed a record £5.2 billion a year to the economy, but also stressed that the benefits of music were wider than its huge financial contribution.

Michael Dugher said: ‘It’s clear that, economically, music in the UK punches well above its weight but this is only part of the picture. The value of music goes way beyond all the pound signs and the piles of economic data.

‘The economic value of music is inextricably interlinked with the critically important social value of music.’

He also underlined findings from the Cultural Learning Alliance, which found that exposure to music enhanced cognitive abilities by 17 percent, while pointing to a study in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine which revealed 96 percent of patients had positive responses to music therapy.

In advance of the General Election on 12 December, Dugher urged the next Government to launch an inter-departmental strategy on music and health to focus all the social benefits that music can bring.

He added: ‘This is a vitally important area and something that I and my colleagues at UK Music have already been talking to the Government about. It would be key in mapping out how we maximise the benefits of music for everyone. Rhetoric needs to be matched by action…including on funding.’

In his speech, Mr Dugher referenced the impact of music on health and wellbeing by emphasizing that evidence from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing that music therapy reduces agitation and the need for medication in 67 percent of people with dementia.

He also pointed to Government estimates that arts participation rates in England result in NHS cost savings of £168.8m due to reduced GP visits.

Dugher commented: ‘We all know from personal experience how a particular piece of music can calm us, can lift our mood when we’re feeling down or depressed, can help us celebrate and feel good, can give us pause for reflection triggering memories and experiences that define our lives.’

‘All the evidence suggests that children who are engaged in their education through music, and similarly through other subjects like drama and sport, do better at core subjects like Maths and English.’

For more information about the work of Nordoff Robbins, please visit nordoff-robbins.org.uk.