Electric Guitar More Popular Than Violin in U.K. Study

Young electric-guitar enthusiasts on the rise in Great Britain.
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Britain’s Music Exam Board reports that electric guitar has overtaken violin on the list of most popular music instruments for children to play.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) interviewed 1,726 children for the study, and found 13% of five- to 17-year-olds play the electric guitar, compared with 12% for the violin. Keyboard maintains its top position on the list at 30%.

Back in 1999, the recorder was the most popular instrument among children aged five to 14, with just 2% of children playing the violin, and 1%, the electric guitar.

There has been a rise in instrumental learning an across the board since 1999, with increasing numbers of children playing a wider variety of instruments, and some children playing two or more.

The study also showed more boys than girls are learning pop-music instruments than girls, and more girls are playing the recorder, violin, and flute.

Some 40% said they made music with friends, 20% had performed to an audience, 12% wrote and sung their own songs, and 20% made music using a smartphone or tablet.

Approximately 76% of children aged five to 14 told the researchers they knew how to play an instrument compared with 41% in 1999.

The figures suggest a music boom, but financially disadvantaged children may be missing out.

Almost three quarters (74%) of children from affluent backgrounds said they had guitar lessons, individually or in classes, compared with 55% of those from poorer groups. Some 30% of children who had never had lessons said they were too expensive, while 40% of poorer children said they had no opportunity to learn at school.

The report calls for funding to be targeted more effectively at disadvantaged learners, with more collaboration between private and state sectors.