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Creating opportunities to shine

6 years ago

In 2012 we began a partnership with the Mayor’s Music Fund, providing scholarships for 12 talented young musicians. Rhian Morgan reports on the impact of our funding so far. 'There are so many things to be happy about when playing music,’ proclaims 11-year-old Esther from Greenwich, in London. Proud of her recent success in Grade 2 Trumpet, Esther says ‘playing my instrument makes me feel I can learn anything. It’s fun to do new things and it’s given me more confidence.’ Esther is one of the lucky ones; she is one of 12 talented young London musicians to be awarded an ABRSM scholarship from the Mayor’s Music Fund. She, like her fellow scholars, was identified as a ‘talented child, aged 7 to 11, who shows significant ability and commitment to learning a musical instrument’. ‘Many families struggle to pay for ongoing lessons,’ says Ginny Greenwood, Chief Executive of the Mayor’s Music Fund, ‘and awarding four-year scholarships gives children the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We also fund partnerships between Music Services and professional arts organisations, giving thousands of aspiring young musicians the valuable experience of learning from and performing alongside top professionals.’

Helping young musicians develop

A survey by the University of London’s Institute of Education identified the problem of large numbers of young instrumentalists falling by the wayside through a lack of money. And so the Mayor’s Music Fund, a charity, was started in 2011 to address the middle ground between group sessions at school and really developing as a musician, with individual lessons and access to ensembles. ABRSM’s contribution of £12,500 a year - from 2012 to 2016 - funds 12 scholarships. All scholars receive up to four years of tuition, supporting sustained musical progress, through their Music Services. ‘The Scholarship Programme offers young people an opportunity to shine,’ explains Lincoln Abbotts, ABRSM’s Director of Strategic Development. ‘At ABRSM we see this as making a real investment in the next generation of performers, teachers, leaders and listeners. We work with a number of organisations around the world which help young people to develop their musical skills in a progressive way,’ adds Lincoln, ‘so we’re delighted to support this great initiative, which provides support for musical potential where it’s really needed.’ ‘These scholars are making outstanding progress,’ says Ginny. ‘One has been accepted to The Purcell School and one has recently auditioned for the National Youth Orchestra, while a handful have gained scholarships to senior schools. We’re also encouraged by the diversity of projects the Fund supports,’ she continues, ‘from Bollywood to traditional brass, Ethno Contemporary to Urban Mix and everything in between. The sheer number of young people taking part in our programmes - 14,000 and rising - is phenomenal.’

Investing in talent

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is hugely supportive of the scheme. ‘There’s no doubt in my mind that learning music has profound benefits for young people as well as for our society,’ he says, emphasising the importance of ‘ensuring every young Londoner has the chance to learn a musical instrument in school, regardless of their family's ability to pay’. He also sees it as an investment in ‘the talent of the next generation’ of Londoners. These feelings are shared by the parents of the young musicians, says Ginny. ‘There is on overriding sense of pride shared between scholar, family and school at having been chosen for this award, resulting in the recipients’ increased self-esteem and desire to be the best they can be.’ ‘It makes me feel special,’ says 10-year-old trombonist Emmanuel from Camden, while for Keiley-Mae, from Hillingdon, the scholarship has ‘given me more confidence because I’ve always wanted to do this’. ‘Many children are for the first time engaging in school through music,’ continues Ginny. ‘There is the knock-on effect of increasing their social and emotional wellbeing and in a significant number of cases an improvement in academic work.’ It’s a marvellous accolade for the scheme but, like most arts organisations, there is constant pressure for more money.

A rewarding experience

Thanking ABRSM for funding the scholarships and underwriting workshops, Ginny says her ambition is now ‘to raise enough money every year to fund at least 100 four-year scholarships, a commitment of £400,000, so that by 2016, 500 students will be benefiting from the scheme’. Every one of the ABRSM scholars was asked to write about their involvement in the scheme, and every single young musician used the words ‘happy’, ‘enjoy’ and ‘fun’. It’s a sentiment shared not only by the children and their proud parents but by Ginny Greenwood too. ‘Children are joyous at the best of times,’ she says. ‘But a child making music is, to me, doubly joyous.’

This article was originally featured in the March 2014 edition of Libretto, ABRSM's magazine.

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We are always interested in hearing your feedback on our magazine. Please contact the Libretto editor to share your thoughts. Lucy North T+44 (0)20 7467 8253

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