The recorder is set to be eclipsed by the growing popularity of the ukulele in music lessons at school


For years, the humble recorder has been a staple in elementary school music lessons.

But it looks set to be eclipsed by an old instrument that is enjoying a resurgence in popularity: the ukulele.

According to research by ABRSM – the Royal Schools of Music Review Board – the number of children playing the recorder has plummeted while the ukulele has experienced a meteoric rise.

A survey of adults and children who play a musical instrument found that the proportion of recorder players fell from 52% in 1997 to 28% in 2014 and to just 15% in 2020. In 2020, 9% played the ukulele. as figures for previous years are not available.

However, statistics relating specifically to teaching musical instruments to whole classrooms in schools confirm that it has grown in popularity.

A survey of 476 music teachers teaching whole-class ensembles found that 15% used the ukulele in 2020 – a fifteen-fold increase from the 1% recorded in 2014. This means that the ukulele is now used just as frequently. in ensembles than the recorder, which was also used by 15% of teachers in 2020.

The research also revealed that digital music creation has become extremely popular among young people. Almost two-thirds of children (64%) who had played an instrument reported using some type of digital resource, such as YouTube videos, smartphone apps, and online recordings or lessons to support their learning.

Overall, musical participation is high, with 86% of children and 43% of adults actively playing music.

Chris Cobb, Managing Director of ABRSM, said: “It is up to all of us in the industry to build on this enthusiasm for music now, as well as the tangible energy and optimism in many areas of the world. music education right now, to meet the needs of today’s learners, whether they want to learn in the classroom, in a community hall, or alone at home.

“The reason is simple. Music is about joy, about bonding. Learning to play and sing helps us grow as individuals and as a member of society. Personalized and quality support for learners, wherever they are in their journey, will help them stay motivated, enthusiastic and eager to progress.

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