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History of the Music Education Council

The Music Education Council was formed in 1975 just before the invention of the first Walkman...

The UK Council for Music Education was formed in 1975 as a registered charity with the following aims:

  • To bring together and represent all those concerned with music education and training

  • To review and shape policies at all levels and to collate information and promote action


The charity has continued to carry out these roles ever since, albeit in various guises and formats.


There are few records of the first eleven years of activity, but we do know that UKCME held an executive meeting on 18th September 1986 with a full council meeting taking place on 30th January 1987.   The minutes of both meetings refer to UKCME meeting in a “new form” on these dates. Over 30 representatives attended on this occasion representing Conservatoires, Further Education Colleges, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the National Association of Youth Orchestras, the Musicians’ Union and the Orff and Dalcroze societies to name but a few.

From the early minutes it was noticeable that UKCME did not support the creation of a confederation of arts associations but supported the new HMI report “Music 5 – 16” and put pressure on exam boards to change A level specifications to make it a natural follow on from the new GSCE. The council was also active in seeking out groups representing “non-Western musics” to become members. 

Moving into the 1990s UKCME began discussions with the Arts Council on their policy towards Music Education and there was also a burgeoning interest in Music Technology and pop, rock and jazz examinations.

In 1993 UKCME faced the question of its relevance to the sector and felt it needed to act as a “co- ordinating body which represents the co-operation between its constituent members,” and at which time UKCME became the Music Education Council. 

In 2021, after the Covid Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, MEC reassessed the changing music education landscape and once again adjusted its focus, seeking to bring expert voices together with a wider perspective of the music education sector and to ask difficult, complex questions about the evolving role of music education in society. MEC’s seminars went online and addressed issues as wide-ranging as changes within Higher Education, arts venues, professional ensembles and the role of artificial intelligence.

MEC has continued its role in providing policy advice to government, most recently during the development of the 2nd National Plan for Music Education, published in June 2022.

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