The West Norfolk Academies Trust is expanding an initiative to encourage more talented young musicians after securing a grant with royal connections.
The project enables students in the Trust’s six primary schools who show an aptitude for music to begin tuition on an orchestral instrument. But thanks to the grant of £2,000 from the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association charity fund, this is now being expanded to also include all primary schools which feed into the Trust’s high schools.
It means more than 200 pupils will have the opportunity to learn, with over 20 schools now participating. Rob Galliard, director of primary music at the Trust, explained the initiative first began in 2019 to build on the current practice of giving children in primary schools one term's experience of playing an instrument.
He said: “We use the same whole class opportunity but, after a term, select a group of pupils who show an aptitude for music to begin tuition on an orchestral instrument. Of those who started in 2019, nearly 50% are still playing and beginning to join bands and orchestras.”
The scheme began in the Trust's six primary schools - Clenchwarton, West Lynn, Snettisham, Heacham Junior, Walpole Cross Keys and Gaywood. It is now being extended to those primary schools that feed into the Trust's high schools: Springwood, Smithdon, St Clement's and Marshland.
The Royal Warrant Holders’ Association charity fund is established by companies which hold royal warrants and specifically helps small local good causes with grants of up to £2,000.
The funding - which is the second donation received by the Trust - will be used to purchase more instruments for use in lessons and practice at home, including ‘rare breeds’ which have a shortage of players such as bassoons, french horns, oboes and violas.
The instruments are provided free of charge to the children and the cost of the lessons is less than £2.00 per week.
Beginner orchestral instruments cost at least £150, rising up to over £1000. Once established the children are encouraged to either buy or hire their own instrument. The Trust advises parents on a suitable instrument and is usually able to acquire an instrument below list price.
Mr Galliard added: “Playing a musical instrument is both a physical and an intellectual activity and children of primary age can develop their motor skills together with their increasing ability to read and memorise.
“We provide opportunities for the children from different schools to come together and this develops their social skills. There is nothing better than making music with your friends.
“There is a shortage of players of some orchestral instruments - mainly because of their cost. These are known as rare breed instruments and we have purchased bassoons, french horns, oboes and violas for use in our primary schools.”