This article examines the perceived and documented problems of school music, particularly at secondary level, through a study of young people's music in and out of school. Four issues are explored: teachers' approaches to music in school; pupils' levels of engagement in musical activities in and out of school; pupils' attitudes to music in and out of school; and pupils' aspirations in music. A Pupils' Music Questionnaire was administered to 1,479 pupils in Years 4, 6, 7 and 9 (aged 8–14 years) from 21 schools in England; Teacher Interviews were conducted with 42 head teachers and teachers responsible for music in all these schools; and follow-up Music Focus Groups were conducted with 134 pupils from the original sample. In contrast to earlier research, both teachers and pupils across the sample demonstrated very positive attitudes towards music, whilst also acknowledging constraints on good practice. Music listening formed an important part of pupils' lives, but music making was more prominent than suggested by previous research. Commitment to musical activity seemed more robust out of school than in school, and it is suggested that involvement in musical activity may be transitory for some children and adolescents.
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