Wednesday, 12 September 2007

We Are The Music Makers

The Arts Council UK has announced a loan of up to £2,000 for talented but hard up young 'uns and families to buy musical instruments. The project, entitled "Take It Away" is designed to give talented or interested kids the chance to own their very own instrument.

The opportunity for young people to express themselves creatively is often cited as a route away from the boredom and peer pressure which can lead kids towards troublesome behaviour and drug use. However, the prohibitive cost of musical equipment and lessons often discourage children (and the parents who pay for them) from taking them on. Many urban musicicans and MCs are outspoken about the role music played in their formative years. Most recently Skinnyman, aka Alex Holland, denoted music as his way out of poverty and the violent Leeds estate he grew up on, with his album Council Estate of Mind.

Still, the money is just an interest-free loan; families that can afford to spend up to £2,000 on their child's hobby will apply.The Arts Council, I think, are trying to replicate the remarkable success that Venezuala, and now Scotland, have had with providing at-risk young people with music lessons: . The Simon Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, which takes on street-kids and gives them lessons, mentors and tutors, is a shining example of the way that music can transform lives. There have been a few staggering successes that the AC would like to replicate: Gustavo Dudamel, the 26-year old golden boy of the Venezualen project, has just been appointed musical director of the LA Philharmonic. And the 17-year old bassist, Edicson Ruiz
hired by the Berlin Philharmonic; a world-class musician, straight out of the ghetto.

Will this initiative be succesful? The Arts Council tell me that over 400 people in the first month have taken up the offer of an interest-free loan; only time will tell on this one. Music shops in the area who are taking part in the scheme are below:

Spectrum Music Ltd
144 Bury New Road, Whitefield, Manchester, M45 6AD
tel: 0161 796 0843
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 9.00am-5.30pm
Instruments supplied: Guitars, Strings (bowed), Woodwind, Brass, Pianos (acoustic and digital), Electronic keyboards, Percussion, Computer based products, Tuition area

The Music Box
174-176 Market Street,Hyde,Cheshire,SK14 1EX
tel: 0161 366 5037web:
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.00pmSaturday 10.00 - 5.00
Instruments supplied: Guitars, Strings (bowed), Woodwind, Brass, Pianos (acoustic and digital), Electronic keyboards, Percussion, Studio/practice room, tuition area

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