P is 18, and is in the midst of taking his A-Levels, which don’t include music. But, dear Reader, we ask that you read on

P was born and brought up in a very musical household. There were two pianos in it, to start with, and his Dad was a professional musician. Music was a feature of every single day in the house - either Dad working up to his next few assignments, or Mum listening to, singing along, dancing to and talking about music of all kinds.

There was a bias in what was heard in favour of classical music, because of his Dad’s job. But many, many other musical genres were also on offer; modern jazz of all flavours and shapes, from Bill Evans and Pat Metheny to the madness of Loose Tubes, Traditional and country music – Alistair Anderson’s Northumbrian pipes to James Taylor. And rap, and EDM, as well as children’s songs, and his older brother’s first forays into finding his own musical preferences.

So P went for piano lessons at the age of six, and by the time he was leaving primary school had passed Grade 4 and was working to Grade 5 standard. He was also well over the Grade 4 theory knowledge.

So you’d think… maybe this is going to continue? Unfortunately not. Like so many other children when they transition to secondary school, P was bored of the exam repertoire, tired of the old fashioned 'working towards exams' structure and generally losing interest in what he was given to play and study. For lots of children, the music used to engage children in both instrumental and school based lessons doesn't marry with their own, fast developing musical tastes.

P voiced his wish to discontinue playing the piano in this way, and thankfully this was recognised as a positive decision on P's part. But the boredom continued, even when changes were made (including finding things he wanted to play, and stopping the exams). He found music lessons at secondary school dull, because he was always the one chosen to keep everyone else in time and 'together' when they were making music. He could hold both a pulse and the key for a whole class, so that was the job he was regularly given. Eventually, he stopped playing the piano altogether and opted out of GCSE Music. So did music making disappear from his life? Not at all... because by that time, he’d received a basic DJ controller and an iPad, and was doing a little mixing for himself.

In his Lower Sixth year, he went home one day and said "I didn’t know you could do Music GCSE and A Level Music Technology without playing an instrument. If I’d known that, I’d have done it". He took his birthday and Christmas money and got an Ableton license, because a friend at his school was doing Music Tech and suggested it.

"I didn’t know you could do Music GCSE and A Level Music Technology without playing an instrument. If I’d known that, I’d have done it"

Now P is thinking about how he can change tack. He spends most of his leisure time making music using Ableton, and a microphone he’s also invested in. He puts it all on Soundcloud is making loads of music. He’s thinking about deferring University and trying to squeeze A-Level Music Tech into a year to give him more choices at this stage in his life; and this is a real possibility as it’s clear that all the Grade 4 theory he learned is still in his head and is applicable to his composition today (so he'll have a flying start).

A Model Music Curriculum that included Music Technology right from the start might have meant that P wouldn’t be in this position today. Read more about YY&M's response to the MMC here, including what changes WE would make...

EDIT: P has studied hard and explored more of his own work... and has landed himself a place to study a music related degree at a top level University. Just goes to show that there are so many different paths into music and higher music education!