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Hitting the right notes

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A new music education initiative is taking Gloucestershire schools by storm and has seen communities come together to make it happen for the benefit of our county’s young musicians.

The Brass Foundations programmes brings live music-making into schools in the form of free of charge brass workshops, providing children with the opportunity to play a range of instruments.

Now Paul McLaughlin, Gloucestershire’s very own Youth Development Brass Specialist, is working with local schools, brass bands, and music-lovers to collect instruments that will enable his work in schools to continue.

Since the scheme began this time last year, Paul has delivered more than 50 workshops across 30 schools, reaching over 1800 children in the Gloucestershire area. So far 15 instruments have been donated or loaned by bands and individuals. Gloucestershire Music kindly loaned 90 PBuzzes for summer term workshops as well as over 25 instruments for this term but more will be needed to ensure that every child has the chance to play one.

Paul commented: “I need to say a huge thank you to everyone who has kindly donated instruments so far. Most recently Sandhurst Silver Band, who generously loaned us a number from their storage. The instruments were sitting around unused and unloved, which just doesn’t make sense. Now they have begun their new lives at Field Court Primary School Brass Band Club in Quedgeley, Gloucestershire.”

Other instruments have been placed into the hands of 47 Year 7s from Severn Vale School, where Paul has worked with the school’s music department to run a dedicated Brass Day, offering pupils the chance to hear from professional musicians as well as have a go themselves.

Richard Johnson, Head Teacher at Severn Vale, commented: “The children just loved the visits from Paul. Actually being able to have a go on the instruments is great – they are truly fascinated by the sounds and shapes of the whole brass family. And the rewards of performing music together as a group are enormous. Plus, they’re learning to work together, and developing a range of other transferable skills too. It’s a thumbs up from us and we’re looking forward to continuing our participation in the programme.”

In fact, Paul believes that musical performance can act as a bridge between primary and secondary education, easing the transition through shared extra-curricular provision across different schools in the area. Churchdown Village Junior School (pictured) is the latest to start an after school club thanks to the programme, where further donated instruments will be put to good use. Children will then be given the chance to hire an instrument and opportunities to continue their musical learning will be provided by Gloucester Music service.

Activity will provide a pipeline of young talent to ensure a sustainable future for our country’s beloved brass bands. “The local bands have been great and really keen to support the programme,” Paul commented. “Bands such as the brilliant Gloucester Excelsior Band, and many more. Supporting the programme means they are ultimately investing in their own future, as well as giving back to the local community.”

The Brass Foundations programme is the flagship education programme of Brass Bands England, the national association for brass bands. Do you have instruments that you can lend or donate? Please email info@bbe.org.uk or visit brassfoundations.com to find out more about the programme.

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