Investing in children and young people through music is key to their future success
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 October 2015
We have a duty to explore innovative ways of helping young people make music, says Sharon Canavar
The letters are starting to come home asking if my young son Ben might like to learn an instrument at school. They bring back so many memories of whether to choose the flute or the violin; the days of group tuition with the pupil that hadn’t practised, keeping us all on Tune A Day Book One for the whole year and being delighted that my flute lesson clashed with maths, which I firmly believe is the reason I still don’t know my seven times table.
I believe music making is a major part of who we are, and investing in children and young people through music is key to their future success. That’s why it’s so exciting to learn that North Yorkshire Youth Music Action Zone (NYMAZ www.nymaz.org.uk) is not only investigating but piloting new ways to ensure every young person has access to music education, especially in rural areas.
Using Skype, the project has allowed seven primary schools across North Yorkshire to participate in the programme, with 71 pupils taking part in twice-weekly online instrumental lessons over seven weeks. The programme also live-streamed a number of performances from Musicport and Grassington festivals plus a performance from Martin James Bartlett, who featured in the Harrogate International Festivals’ Young Musicians programme.
I know the live experience and one-to-one music tuition is the ideal, but when 17.6 per cent of the population of England lives in areas defined as rural, these opportunities just aren’t available to everyone. That’s why we have a duty to explore other means of reaching children and young people through digital technologies, and the statistics speak for themselves. The cost savings of online tuition would enable a further four full time members of staff to deliver instrumental lessons but more importantly 79 per cent of parents said that without this programme, they wouldn’t have sought out instrumental lessons for their child.
This is clearly an incredible step forward for music education. Music teachers in rural areas could spend far less time on the road between schools and more time teaching, meaning that more children would be able to receive lessons – in particular, those in very small or very rural schools who miss out.
It’s fantastic to see North Yorkshire at the forefront of new technologies in the arts, but it’s even more exciting to ensure that the legacy of music making reaches all children, regardless of circumstance and geography. w
Sharon Canavar is chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals