Express victory as youth music gets a big boost | Music | Entertainment

Under 13s perform their Orrible Orchestras concert at Portsmouth Guildhall in 2022

Under 13s perform their Orrible Orchestras concert at Portsmouth Guildhall in 2022 (Image: Vernon Nash)

The number of National Youth Music Organisations is set to be more than doubled with the creation of eight new centres – taking the total number spread across the country from seven to fifteen. National Youth Music Organisations, which helped launch the careers of a number of international Brit superstars including Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Little Simz, provide opportunities for thousands of young people to take part in making, performing and enjoying music.

The announcement is a victory for the Daily Express’s Strike A Chord crusade which is urging an overhaul of music education to give every child high-quality opportunities to learn an instrument.

From the Cornwall coast up to the northern borders of England, these organisations offer large-scale, inclusive performances, music programmes, residencies, summer schools and workshops, helping to develop their skills, experience, and knowledge of music and supporting them to excel as young creatives.

All fifteen National Youth Music Organisations will receive Arts Council’s funding for the next three years whilst the Department for Education has recognised the outstanding work of the organisations in the programme and will contribute a further £1.5m over the duration.

Established National Youth Music Organisations The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, National Youth Choir, The National Youth Jazz Collective, British Youth Music Theatre, Milap Festival Trust (SAMYO), Music for Youth and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain will be joined by newcomers including a National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain, which gives children the chance to take part in making orchestral music and Open Up Music, which launched the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra and now help schools set up accessible orchestras for disabled young people.

Also included are Awards for Young Musicians, which provides funding and support to young musicians from low-income families, UD, which supports young people to explore Black music and culture, Pagoda Arts, which teaches young people about Chinese music and culture, National Youth Folk Ensemble, which enables young people throughout England to create and perform inspiring new arrangements of folk music.

These are joined by Orchestras for All, which launched the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra, and also works with special schools and Music Education Hubs to set up accessible orchestras for young disabled people and Sound and Music, which creates opportunities for young people aged 11 – 21 to compose and create their own music

The expansion of National Youth Music Organisations will lead the way in developing young musicians and music-makers, prioritising learning and expanding opportunities for young people to be inspired, take on advanced musical challenges, and make decisions about their future education and careers. Alumni of the programme includes internationally-acclaimed artists Little Simz and Ed Sheeran.

Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, said: “High quality music education is an important part of children and young people’s lives, both in and out of school, which is why the Government published the National Plan for Music Education last year and the Model Music Curriculum in 2021. I want to see more young people across the country given the opportunity to make music.

“This is an important step towards the ambition set out in the National Plan, for all children and young people to have the opportunity to progress their musical interests and talents, including professionally.”

Nick Thorne, Executive Director of new-joiner Orchestras for All, said: “Since 2011, we have been championing inclusive music-making throughout the UK and we’re so proud to sit alongside a range of national ensembles and nationally significant organisations. Our programmes will make a significant contribution towards the delivery of ‘The power of music to change lives: a national plan for Music Education’, which will be led by the young people we work with who inspire us each day through their passion, energy and barrier-smashing enthusiasm towards our work.”

National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain

The National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain was founded in 1998, to bring together talented young musicians from throughout the United Kingdom and give them the opportunity to work together and enjoy making music under the guidance of inspiring teachers.

The choir has grown from its original membership of 38, who sang in the Millennium Youth Prom in the Albert Hall as their first concert, to more than 250 members of the Junior and Senior Choirs.

Young singers are supported from ages 8 – 14 to be happy and healthy through transformative orchestral experiences and performances of exceptional quality. The organisation aims to inspire children to be the best musician that they can be, unlock their creative potential and support their wellbeing.

National Youth Choir

Founded in 1983, the flagship National Youth Choir ensemble is widely recognised as one of the greatest youth choirs in the world. Each year prospective National Youth Choir members audition for the chance to participate in a unique and inspirational Annual Programme of training and performance projects.

Current members of the choir re-audition annually to retain their place. It is open to talented singers aged 18-25 and encourages individuals from all backgrounds across the UK, with a particular emphasis on supporting young people who are currently underrepresented in choral music, including those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled people and those from lower-income families.

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Comment by Darren Henley – CEO Arts Council England

National Youth Music Organisations support thousands of young people across the country to make and enjoy music.

Over the next three years these 15 organisations will help young people unlock their passion for different genres and styles, from orchestras to rap, at summer schools and workshops, and by putting on performances.

At the Arts Council, we invest in everyone’s creativity, and that starts from childhood. We know young people are brimming with creative potential, and we want to make sure they all can access the highest-quality cultural experiences no matter where they live, where they go to school, or where they spend their free time.

I am privileged to regularly meet young musicians and creators who are passionate about the music they make and they tell me the difference it makes to their lives.. They are the foundation of the UK’s diverse and world-leading music industry.

I know that readers of the Daily Express support the Strike a Chord campaign, increasing access to music lessons and learning. I’m very proud that more than doubling the number of National Youth Music Organisations means we’re bringing more opportunities to learn an instrument, compose, and make music to even more children. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

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