The biggest gathering of young musicians in the world takes place in Birmingham this week. But is the state of music tuition in this country something to sing about?
Many adults will remember music lessons as a bit of a joke when they were at school.
An hour devoted to messing about rather than listening to a teacher explaining the difference between a quaver and a crochet on a blackboard.
The level of teaching at many primary schools amounted to little more than a class having a few wind and percussion instruments shoved under their noses.
These days many teachers say they have little time for subjects like music as they battle to get children through literacy and numeracy tests to raise league table positions.
As a result, some grumble learning a instrument is confined to the lucky few whose parents have enough notes of the non-musical kind to indulge their middle class passions.
Meanwhile, the Government tells us music is alive and kicking in schools.
So what?s the truth? Are we missing out on a generation of musical talent or is there cause for hope?
Colin Brackley Jones, chief executive of the Federation of Music Services, seems to think the latter.
He claims the country?s network of 150 local authority-run music services including Birmingham?s has never been stronger - thanks to the current Government and in no small part its guitar-strumming Prime Minister.
?There are many schools where learning a musical instrument is provided free of charge for at least some of the time at a subsidised rate,? he said. ?This is largely because the Government has put in the music standard fund.?
The Government has pledged to ensure that every child that wants to will be able to learn to play a musical instrument by the end of the decade as part of its Music Manifesto.
The music standard fund brought in in 1999 pumped about #60 million into music teaching a year.
According to Mr Brackley Jones there are now more than 500,000 youngsters receiving musical tuition in schools.
But that?s still only about eight per cent of all pupils nationally.
And lessons remains largely outside the curriculum, with pupils having to join paid-for music classes during lunch, after school or even the weekends.
Fees vary dramatically. In Walsall, many parents benefit from free tuition for their children. In Birmingham, some pay as little as #35 a term per weekly session, while others might pay around #132 depending on how much additional cash schools can put in.
Parents in Worcestershire face the highest costs, having to fork nearly #230 a term for weekly half-hour tuition.
Such costs immediately price many parents out, especially those with more than one child to consider.
Groups such as Birmingham?s world-famous choir Ex Cathedra are engaged in innovative grass-roots work to get more youngsters tuned into music, particularly those in deprived areas.
The choir recently spent a week working with boys at Benson Community Primary School in Hockley getting them to sing and perform.
Free classical music training is also being offered to inner city black and Asian youths through a ground-breaking scheme run by the Aston Performing Arts Academy.
Nevertheless, things are improving within schools, insists Mr Brackley Jones.
?Music teaching has become a very practical subject in the national curriculum,? he said.
?It is concerned with making sure young people experience what it is like to make music.?
Meanwhile, more 10,000 young musicians, singers and dancers from across the country will congregate in Birmingham today for the biggest youth music festival in the world. The event, which in the past has been held in London, will see more than 300 groups of musicians aged from four to 21 perform.
The National Festival of Music for Youth will take place in Symphony Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire and the CBSO Centre.
The event goes on until next Saturday.