More needs to be done to support young people in learning to play a musical instrument otherwise music education risks becoming something that only children born to wealthier parents can afford.
That’s the view of the organisers of the North Wales Blues and Soul festival, which takes place in Mold from 3rd-5th August 2018. They have decided to back the national Music for All charity. It provides instruments and lessons for young people who wish to learn – or keep playing – but cannot afford to do so.
“There have been some government support packages but the reality is that austerity and education funding cuts bite harder in some regions than others,” says Charlie Broadhurst of Event Sound Ltd, who created the festival with Mold Town Council. “We want to do our bit to provide practical support and hopefully also some inspiration to young people.
“Our audience is made up from people from all over the world but the mainstay comes from Wales, the North West and the Midlands. These are places which have produced some of the world’s most influential musicians, from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Joy Division right up to the Stereophonics today. We are music people and not politicians but I do think it would be wrong to assume that our music heritage can just take care of itself. There is definitely a debate to be had around whether there is enough funding focussed on disadvantaged learners. Playing a musical instrument is life enhancing – and sometimes even life changing – but it’s getting out of reach for a growing number of children.”
Dave Hill, of Mold Town Council, said the festival will raise funds for the charity by donating a percentage from ticket sales and having ‘bucket-shaking’ fundraisers there among the crowds on the day. “We are arranging for award-winning harmonica player Liam Ward, who is performing at the festival, to run a harmonica workshop in Mold itself for young people interested in taking up the instrument,” said Mr Hill. “We are also going to talk to schools from across Flintshire and encourage entries to take part in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition prior to the big event.”
Paul McManus, Chief Executive of Music for All added: “We’re delighted to be working with the North Wales Blues & Soul Festival. Making music really changes lives and it also has a huge range of benefits for younger people. Research shows that playing a musical instrument can help at school with better concentration, creativity and socialisation, leading to improved self-esteem and self-discipline. We want as many children as possible to enjoy these benefits and the support of events like the festival really help us to make this happen.”