Free music tuition offered in schools to ensure no child misses out

  • Video report by ITV Wales Journalist Hamish Auskerry

Free tuition will be offered in schools as funding into music education is trebled by the Welsh Government, in a bid to ensure no child misses out due to financial reasons.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed £13.5 million will be invested over the next three years.

It's hoped the national music service will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households, under-represented groups and those with additional learning needs.

"A lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music."

In order to encourage children and young people to progress with music tuition, the project will offer a 'First Experiences' programme to those in primary schools, with a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions.

Secondary school pupils will benefit from industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries.

A new national instrument and equipment library will also be available as a resource bank to be shared across Wales.

The programmes will be rolled out from September 2022 for children aged between three to 16. In addition to learning to play an instrument, they will be able to practice their singing.

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The National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’ and help schools and settings in their delivery to ensure more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools.

Whether children decide to pursue a career in music or simply play for joy, Head of Music Service for Swansea Council, Karin Jenkins, hope the programme caters to all.

She explained: "It shouldn't be that pupils only learn musical instruments if it's affordable, it should be that every child has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument at school."

Discussing the new funding, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

"Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music.

"We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent."

Wales' Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, emphasised the drive to offer the chance to play an instrument to all children regardless of their background.

"I remember how important it was to me to be able to have music tuition when I was in school and to learn the baritone and to play in brass ensembles.

"I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition - the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills is too often limited by cost and affordability nowadays, so we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people, so that they can learn and experience the joy of music", he added.

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn explained he was proud to be working with the Welsh Government on delivering the "vital service".

"Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills."