East Ham MP Stephen Timms supports widening access to music for children in the borough


- Credit: Archant

I attended a concert at Milton Court last weekend.

It’s a fine modern concert hall across the road from the Barbican, and it’s home to the Guildhall School of Music. The concert was the London International Guitar Competition.

Three talented young guitarists, two from Italy and one from Ukraine, were competing for a prestigious prize. Each of them played the same two pieces of music, and, at the end, the judges awarded the prize to Italian Giacomo Susani.

I went because the competitors were accompanied by Newham Philharmonic Orchestra. Its conductor, Matthew Scott Rogers, is a rising star, based at the Royal Opera House, and the orchestra started earlier this year. It is made up of 16 to 25-year-olds. It was brilliant.

It’s home is Newham Music – whose roots are in the old Newham Academy of Music – which was designated Newham’s government-funded music hub in 2012.

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It reminded me how important it is to extend music access and participation to young people. Newham is right to prioritise this in its innovative Every Child a Musician programme, launched in 2010. It provides free musical instruments and free tuition to children in Years 5 to 7 in Newham.

In his party conference speech in September, Jeremy Corbyn announced that a future Labour government would introduce an arts pupil premium for primary schools. This would be a payment to schools, depending on the number of disadvantaged pupils they have, to support instrumental, acting and dance tuition, and help give pupils regular visits to theatres, galleries and museums. Later, the premium will be rolled out to secondary schools too.

The UK has often lagged behind many other European countries on support for the arts and culture. Widening access to music is an important step forward for children and young people in the borough. More from Stephen

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