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16:11 UK time, Monday, 12 November 2012

My partner is refusing to countenance us meshing our surnames of Clarke and Brown together should we ever get married... No fun.
Prospective Clown, Reading

I thought parlours were things that only spiders had these days, but for your parlour game, my wife's maiden name is Davies, so meet the Wavies!
Phil Warne, Nelson, NZ

Who to replace "Dickens of the Day"? (Friday Letters) Why, H.P. Lovecraft, of course! "...the suddenness of his motion dislodged the waxen mask from what should have been his head." Indeed.
Rob, London, UK

Just a thought. This headline: "Dad builds video baby monitor" should more accurately read:
"Man buys camera and downloads software".
Alex, Bishop Auckland

Angus Gafraidh of London, I can beat you. I have been appearing as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol -The Musical" all week. Bah humbug!
J. Paul Murdock, Wall heath, West Midlands, UK

In my career as a music educator for over 50 years I have frequently noted significant parallels in the teaching and learning processes of both mathematics and music. Both are obviously concerned with patterns and patterning. Both are hierarchical in acquisition. Both have two performing media.

In mathematics education, the aural (listening) and oral (speaking) processes of memorising and calculating numbers, their functions and their correlations are basic to any progression of learning. The calculator, an instrument, can facilitate access to exciting opportunities in the worlds of mathematics and science, but only when the necessary basic skills have been acquired.

In music education, the aural (listening) and oral (singing) processes of memorising and recognising musical sound, its functions and its correlations are basic to any progression of learning.

Musical instruments, applied appropriately, can open doors to new and exciting opportunities in the world of music and our surrounding culture.

In most of our schools, common practice in music teaching is to reach for an instrument first, rather than to ensure the development of basic music skills through use of the singing voice and inner listening. Consequently, it is not unfair to describe many of our young instrumentalists as "mute musicians", able to operate an instrument without experience of the necessary musical basics.

Therefore, the government's wish to limit the use of calculators in the teaching of mathematics from 2014 has my support. But is it not time for the secretary of state for education and his civil servants to correct the anomaly of encouraging the use of musical instruments before children in class have acquired the essential music skills? When will we understand the distinction between music-making and music education?
Michael Stocks, Kirkby Lonsdale UK

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