New music charity set to help primary school children

Free music lessons will begin this term for 24 primary school pupils in Oswestry, thanks to a charity set up in response to dwindling numbers of state school entrants into the town’s annual Youth Music Festival.

BORDER  ALAN FOGARASY COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR 02/02/18.Schools taking part in the Oswestry Youth Music Festival which took place at Holy Trinity.  Porthywaen Junior Ensemble made up of various schools.
BORDER ALAN FOGARASY COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR 02/02/18.Schools taking part in the Oswestry Youth Music Festival which took place at Holy Trinity. Porthywaen Junior Ensemble made up of various schools.

Festival organisers said as the event grew they had been disheartened to see fewer young people each year who had benefited from learning an instrument at state school.

To try and reverse the trend, a new charity was launched to give the gift of music to local children who may otherwise have been unable to access tuition.

Set up in 2019 by former town councillor and festival committee member Mike Coppock, Music Matters in Oswestry and the Borderlands (Music MOB) has now raised enough funds to launch its free lessons.

Festival organiser and charity trustee Sue Turner announced the good news at a meeting of Oswestry Town Council on Wednesday evening, while giving a talk to councillors about the plans for next year’s festival, which had to be cancelled this year.

She said: “Music is very important for young people and It’s a shame that in so many state schools at the moment, because of funding, music has taken quite a hit.

“Although the festival has evolved we have noticed in recent years the entries from state schools have gone down and those from private schools have gone up. The charity will help fund children in state schools who can’t normally access music lessons.

“We are now at the stage where we have got enough funding to pay for 24 local children in state primary schools to start learning a variety of instruments. Maybe next year in the festival we might see some of them in the beginners’ class.”

The Youth Music Festival was lauched in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the event has grown to offer more than 80 competitive classes. It attract over 1,000 entries each year from across Shropshire, Cheshire and Mid and North Wales.

This year's event will run from March 2-6, with sessions in the Hermon Chapel Arts Centre, Christ Church and Holy Trinity Church. Professional adjudicators judge categories from choirs to orchestras and instrumental soloists to vocal groups.

“The standard of the performances is fabulous, and some of the children go on to become professional musicians," Sue said.

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