Turn of the screw

Nottingham Music Hub Want All Local Kids to Make Music

11 March 19 words: Patrick McMahon

Nottingham Music Hub believes that music can make a difference. The registered charity supports young people from across the city, and helps them to develop their musical skills through participation in its ensembles and performances. The scheme was started in 2002 by the City Council and, in 2014, became an independent registered charity. It now runs and supports instrumental tuition in nearly 80% of the city’s primary schools.

This week the charity will hold four short concerts across the city to showcase to the public some of its ensembles. We spoke to one of their team leaders, Helen Murray, about the service and the upcoming performances, called the MAB Week...

Can you tell us about the Nottingham Music Hub and what it does?
We’re a registered charity that provides music making opportunities for young people in Nottingham; we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to make music. We provide a range of groups and ensembles for children and young people so they can make the kind of music they enjoy with their friends and peers. By keeping our ensemble fees as low as £11 a year, we try to make our groups accessible and inclusive. We also hold events and music competitions for young people, and our Robin Hood Youth Orchestra is one of the city’s youth orchestras that performs in cultural events like the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

We start with the beginner Area Bands, which don’t require any grade exams but are designed for children who have completed one year of whole class instrumental learning in their schools. We then have an Intermediate Orchestra that is a stepping stone to our Robin Hood Youth Orchestra. We also have samba percussion groups and “Band Factory”, which caters to our rock, pop and alternative genres.

How does the service make music inclusive?
While the city has a lot to be proud of, like its multiculturalism and impressive music scene, there are a lot of economic challenges: Nottingham actually has the lowest disposable household income in the country. Nearly two-thirds of the children live in households where either no adults work or where the income is low. Keeping this in mind, our music hub has purposely kept the ensemble fees very low. For example, our youth orchestra has an average cost of £48 per person for the entire year. A comparative analysis of eleven youth orchestras in the country shows that the average annual cost is £115! I think Nottingham Music Hub strives hard to be inclusive and use strategies that support the needs of city pupils.

You have a series of performances running this week known as MAB Week. Can you explain to us what this is all about?
It’s a week of performances by our area bands and music School ensembles. The area bands get to perform to family and friends, and the performance counts towards their ABRSM Music Medal qualification. Each concert also features one of our more advanced Music School ensembles, a great opportunity to inspire younger children in area band to continue playing.

And anyone can come along to watch?
Yes, everyone is welcome! The concerts are quite relaxed and informal so it’s a good opportunity to bring younger children along.

What’s it like to work for the service?
We have a great team of people who I love working with. Together we teach in most of the primary schools in Nottingham, where children learn to play an instrument together with their whole class. As well as the day-to-day teaching, we run large scale events such as the Great Orchestra Experiment, Music Camp and our upcoming orchestra tour to Karlsruhe in Germany. A typical day would involve teaching classes in schools, spending some time planning future events and supporting our schools and teachers to give the very best music education to Nottingham’s young people. We end each day with an area band rehearsal which is high energy and great fun.

How can people support the service and donate towards it?
Our website has a link to donate to our charity, either on a regular basis or as a one off. It is also the best time to donate to us because we are in the last four months of our Catalyst grant, which matches all donations.  That means that all donations are doubled by the Arts Council so your support will really have twice the impact! People can also support us through attending our events, donating instruments and spreading the word about the work of the charity.

MAB Week Events Page

Nottingham Music Hub Website

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