Free music lessons saved for children

Blackpool Music Service's Music Co-ordinator Cath Anderton (on piano) and vocal tutor Laura Kirkpatrick with the choir.
Blackpool Music Service's Music Co-ordinator Cath Anderton (on piano) and vocal tutor Laura Kirkpatrick with the choir.

MUSIC chiefs in Blackpool say they have saved free tuition for school children after securing a £500,000 Arts Council grant.

Staff at Blackpool Music Service, which is responsible for providing opportunities for children to play an instrument, said they were relieved to have secured the cash which will keep classes going for three years.

The grant of £444,697 will be allocated as part of the Government’s new plan for tackling the “patchy” standard of cultural education.

Music providers, both existing and private, from across the country were invited to apply for cash to become a “music hub”.

And the success of the Blackpool Music Service bid means tuition can continue in schools.

Andrew White, music advisor to Blackpool Council, said: “We are thrilled we’ve been picked to carry on providing excellent opportunities for Blackpool children.

“It means every Year Four pupil will still get free instrument loan and music lessons for a year so they can experience the joy of learning to play.

“We will continue to bring in musicians from around the world and offer them chances to perform in choirs, orchestras and in shows every year.

“We have a great relationship with local schools and securing this bid means we can continue with what we’ve been so successfully doing for the next three years.”

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In January, the Government announced a new strategy called The Importance of Music which changed the way classes were funded.

It brought the Arts Council UK on board with a vision to create the new musical hubs.

Music service providers were encouraged to form partnerships with neighbouring groups to form hubs to get access to more funding.

This has seen 122 hubs formed from 156 music authorities around the country.

But Blackpool’s success in recent years meant the service was determined to stay as a single provider and not join others to form a hub.

Mr White added: “Blackpool is a very deprived area but we have made amazing leaps and bounds and achieved incredible things since we started.

“We have been declared outstanding in reports by the Federation of Music Services and also won the Major Trophy for outstanding work by the National Music Council.

“When we looked at what was expected of hubs, like bringing in professional musicians and other partner organisations, we realised we were already doing it.

“Which is why we chose to stand alone.

“We have always been focused on the needs of our students and we are very excited about the future.”

Music education hubs will be in place from August 2012 when Arts Council bosses will meet with leaders.

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