Pupils learn new instrument for less than £2 a week in Cambridgeshire

PUBLISHED: 16:06 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:06 01 August 2019

School pupils in Cambridgeshire have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Townley Primary School in Christchurch, Wisbech, has seen 24 of the school’s 93 pupils learn string instruments. Picture: TOM KIRK

School pupils in Cambridgeshire have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Townley Primary School in Christchurch, Wisbech, has seen 24 of the school's 93 pupils learn string instruments. Picture: TOM KIRK

Archant

School pupils in Cambridgeshire have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument for less than £2 a week through a new programme.

School pupils in Cambridgeshire have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Townley Primary School in Christchurch, Wisbech, has seen 24 of the school’s 93 pupils learn string instruments. Picture: TOM KIRKSchool pupils in Cambridgeshire have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Townley Primary School in Christchurch, Wisbech, has seen 24 of the school’s 93 pupils learn string instruments. Picture: TOM KIRK

The project, called 'Overture' has been running at 12 schools across the county over the past few months.

It means that schools can set up weekly, half-hour sessions for small groups of around 10 children aged seven to 11.

They can then learn using a particular family of instruments - such as strings, woodwind, or brass.

Schools are provided with support from an expert tutor, the instruments for the course, and any other learning materials required.

Pupils can also form their own ensemble, and put on live performances for parents, teachers and their friends.

It has been developed by Cambridgeshire Music, a county-wide service which runs music lessons and projects for people of all ages.

Townley Primary School in Christchurch, Wisbech, has seen 24 of the school's 93 pupils learn string instruments.

Headteacher Maria Higgins said that it had "completely changed" the way in which they were able to deliver music at the school.

"This is an area where quite a lot of families cannot afford to pay for music lessons," she said.

"Many of our pupils are on free school meals and it would be difficult for them to get involved in music outside school."

"Overture has transformed the experience we can offer and the children have been able to learn an instrument, learn to read music, and play together as an orchestra."

The project is currently supported using public funding by Arts Council England for the first two terms, during which time schools pay just £6 an hour.

After that, they can opt to continue at a rate of £18.75 per session.

As a result, more than 200 pupils across Cambridgeshire have been able to learn a musical instrument - many of them for the first time - through the Overture programme during 2018.

Matthew Gunn, head of Cambridgeshire Music, said: "We have found that this is a system that really works for schools.

"There are several cases like Townley where a school has not had any instrumental teaching at all, and now has an entire class or year group playing instruments.

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"We already know that learning an instrument can play a hugely beneficial role in a young person's development, and through projects such as these, we hope that every school will be given an affordable way to make that happen."

Further information about the Overture project is available at www.cambridgeshiremusic.org.uk/pages/discover-music/tuition/overture.html

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