Music school celebrates 10 year milestone

John Shaw (top left) with youngsters at the launch of the Give Us A Tune campaign
John Shaw (top left) with youngsters at the launch of the Give Us A Tune campaign
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A Blackpool school dedicated to providing low-cost music lessons to struggling families is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Blackpool Music Academy on Waterloo Road was founded in January 2006 by former businessman John Shaw and his friend Jim Lomas to provide high-quality music lessons to residents at a minimal price.

Since then the academy has come a long way from its humble beginnings, with student attendence more than tripling in the last 10 years.

Academy chairman John Shaw said: “When I first started the school it was meant to be just a small group of people getting together. I had no idea how big it was going to get.

“We started out with around 20 students and one tutor. Now I teach around 100 students each week. We must have taught around 800 different people over the 10 years.

“We now have 10 tutors –that’s one new tutor each year.”

Mr Shaw initially set up the music academy to appeal to disabled would-be musicians after a back operation meant he had to use a wheelchair.

He said: “At first we only taught keyboard to older disabled people. After about six months we brought in guitar and drum tuition for the children .

“Now we teach piano, flute, clarinet, saxophone, violin, singing, and music theory.

“I’m now hoping that we can reach out to youngsters who have found themselves going down the wrong path and show them that there is a better way to go through music.

“We’ve also started doing home visits for people who can’t get out of the house.

“I think we have created a real legacy here in Blackpool. and we’ve done well to stay open during the recession. I hope we will be here for many years to come.”

Blackpool Music Academy timeline

2006: Blackpool Music Academy is founded by John Shaw and Jim Lomas in Springfield Greenlands Methodist Church

2007: The academy becomes a registered company

2011: The academy relocates to Waterloo Road in South Shore

2012: The academy is awarded a grant from the CITA trust for £19,000 to carry out refurbishments and install CCTV

2015: The academy’s ‘Give Us A Tune’ campaign attracts donations of second-hand instruments - including an electric keyboard from the Pet Shop Boys.