I believe it is explained above – the first will be good for children's growing minds and the second for social cohesion and planning.
Music is good for developing minds – this is fact – music can inspire and give outlets to imagination and talents that other subjects might not reach – making music with instruments and voices is an enriching group experience, second to none. Some Muslim parents are asking for their children to be exempted from music lessons as they have an ignorant notion (not supported by more liberal Muslim scholars) that music is "haram" or forbidden by the Koran as something corrupt and orgiastic. If it were simply compulsory in the curriculum such parents would not be able to impose this restirction on their children, denying them understanding and experience in one of the greatest art forms, incredibly important the world over, but utterly a central part of Western Civilisation. This would avoid any conflict between the school / teachers and such parents, and Muslims could not choose which subjects suited their beliefs but would accept that their children had to learn something they didn't understand and might even come to think differently aboput it themselves when exposed to traditional folk and classical styles, realising it's not all sexy Pop and R&B. I aslo believe in scrapping faith schools so that they could not opt out to attend a Muslim school (or Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or whatever). Moreover, I believe there should be restrictions imposed on family size by some measure of not offering anything free (schooling, health, child benefit etc) and applying a tax on the 4th child and beyond. This had been successful in Sin gapore and we have to do something to send a message to certain communities who think God will provide for their brood of 12. I teach lovely Muslim women and this year I had a class of fifteen mothers with more than 100 childcren betwen them giving the women no chance ever to work or study commitedly, for that mattter, and all with the view that they were blessed with all these healthy children, not seeing the connection with living in a first world country, supported by tax payers. Please address this issue or there will be a further resentment towards this community and over the many years I have taught, it isn't through teachers and citzenship classes that these age-old ideas can be challenged and revised, but through legislation. They don't want to break our laws, or the laws of other uropean coutries, which is why many many Muslims with Eurpoean passports are moving to the UK as they see it as more liberal and tolerant. It is fantastic that britain is seen in this way, but we also don't want to be taken for mugs by encouraging this imbalance in our population. A further dire consequence of this is a shortage of school places in areas like Brent.
I know this isn't one idea, but two, basically and both might appear to be islamophobic, but they are not; they are sensible ideas to nudge people into better integration, into controlling fertility as we all have a responsibility to do (what a pity two recent PMs – Blair & Cameron – both feel it is their right to have large families – Diana & Charles were responsible and that family needs heirs!) and to ensure one group of children are not deprived in education and those little Mulim Mozarts are found. I know you want less compulsion from the establishment and take a libertarian stance in principle to education, but we have a social time bomb on our hands (just as Israel does with its orthodox jews who will not do paid work and have a dozen children) which we should take pains to avert in the interests of harmony and cohesion. I do not support the banning of the burkha as this is a woman's (mad) choice, but she has no right to impose this choice or any other religious one on her children.