Charity offers free music lessons after pandemic slashes provision in schools

A charity will offer free music lessons for all ages and abilities this weekend in an effort to fight the pressures on music teaching caused by the pandemic.

Music for All will host the events on Saturday and Sunday at Croydon Music and Arts Saturday Centre in Shirley Road, Croydon.

Residents will be able to pick an instrument of their choice for their free music lesson.

According to a representative study of 1,000 people, by pollsters Public First, almost one million adults said they took up a musical instrument during lockdown, with many people saying music helped them cope with enforced isolation.

Collage of Learn to Play events (Picture: Music for All)

But a survey carried out by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) revealed that more than two- thirds – 68 per cent – of primary school teachers and more than a third – 39 per cent – of secondary school teachers across the country reported a reduction in music provision including singing, instrument lessons and extracurricular activities as a direct result of the pandemic.

The survey said this drop was caused by inconsistencies in Government guidance for reopening schools and late publication of safe music teaching guidance.

Sonali Banerjee, Music for All’s General Manager, said: “The past few years have been challenging for many and the effects of the pandemic are still being felt, with the music industry being hit in so many ways. 

“Our Learn to Play weekend is needed now more than ever. It extends opportunities to individuals wanting to try an instrumental lesson for free at their local participating venue.”

Sonali Banerjee, Music for All’s General Manager (Picture: Music for All)

In a 2021 report, University of Edinburgh researchers found links between learning a musical instrument in childhood and improved cognitive skills – acquiring knowledge, reasoning and problem-solving -in older age. 

Participants who played a musical instrument earlier in life showed greater lifetime improvement on a test of cognitive ability than those with less experience, regardless of their socio-economic status, years of education, childhood cognitive ability and their health in older age.

Ms Banerjee said: “Through the Learn to Play events we aim to inspire and support as many people as possible in experiencing the unique joys and benefits of learning to play an instrument which could turn into a lifetime of enjoyment. 

“Music-making is a form of self-expression, a therapeutic tool and provides a channel for creative energy.

“At Music for All we make it our mission to support disadvantaged music makers with limited financial resources to access music making, and the Learn to Play events are a fundamental part of this work.”

Pictured top: Children taking part in the Music for All’s Learn to Play events (Picture: Music for All)

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