It’s a common thought in education that many of us who are now dedicated to passing on our love of learning can look back in our past to a teacher or event which provided the inspiration. In my case, there were two factors which were pivotal and made me want to teach music from an early age. The first was an incredibly talented and dedicated music teacher, Philip Moore who donated prolific quantities of encouragement and time and who first gave me a rather smelly and rusty trombone to try out at the age of 11. He ran a school wind band, orchestra, a recorder group and a choir which all helped students develop musical skills. The second factor was the York Music Centre. Wandering the corridors, you swam through a wonderful ocean of sounds; some of it in tune and some not so much, but all of it enthusiastic, joyful and carefully nurtured by the skilled and dedicated teachers. Beginner groups streamed into Youth Orchestras, Senior Bands, County Band and for some, National Youth ensembles. 35 years later and I’m still in touch with many of the friends I made there on Saturday mornings.
Back to the modern world and many children face huge challenges in their daily lives yet the power of music to transform remains as strong as ever and it is our duty to ensure that young children have the same opportunities that we did. Within LMEP, we recognise that there is still a way to go until there is genuine equality of opportunity for all children in Leeds and to this end, we have funded two exciting new posts in the ArtForms management structure for a Choirs Coordinator and an Ensembles Coordinator. Our vision is to create a network of beginner music groups and choirs in all areas across the city, to gift the chance for all children to take part in social music making, to learn and develop new skills, make lifelong friends and cultivate a lasting love of music. Many of these groups will exist already in schools and music centres and some will be new groups supported by ArtForms, schools and hub partners. ArtForms will provide CPD, resources and expertise throughout the networks. Most importantly, with the financial challenges we are facing today, where those beginner ensembles are run by ArtForms, children will be able to join and attend for free!
We are very excited to see these plans develop and to make the most of it, we will be working in partnership with schools. If your school has an ensemble or choir that you would like to be part of the network, please contact us for further details (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will be supporting partners with network meetings, CPD, resources and opportunities to join special events and concerts. If you are a music leader in school and have been thinking of starting a new choir or band, now is the perfect time! Please let us know and tell us how we can help and support you.
No matter how society changes around us, the power of music to put smiles on faces, improve wellbeing and transform lives is not going to change; in fact, it’s more important than ever!
Lee Muncaster – Senior Curriculum Leader, ArtForms