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This may be a significant part of the answer, along with other provisions planned and already in place:




  • Engage chidren and young people in a morning of expert tuition and ensemble playing on an instrument they can take home

  • See how they become more socially engaged

  • Give them a new sense of purpose

  • Witness the positive effect on their intellectual development (YES – intellectual: not just pleasure, recreational and social – see link to scientific proof below)

  • Dispel the elitist tag that musical engagement has acquired: make it open to all regardless of ability to pay, and regardless of the kind of school they attend


  • Premises

  • Frequency & regularity

  • Professional tutors of one-to-one, small groups, and ensembles

  • Volunteer organisers

  • Instruments

  • Timescale

  • Funding

  • Research


St.John’s Church, hall and AtOne building? The church could be used for ensembles when hall not available on Saturday mornings, eg for WLTDO. If organised independently of the church, hire fees would be payable.

Frequency & Regularity

Once a month to start with, then weekly when it takes off?

My view is that it needs to be weekly for continuity, from the start – but some ensemble activities could be monthly or fortnightly. The goal: a 4-way involvement: instrumental ensemble, vocal ensemble (essential!), instrument lesson, theory/aural class.

Professional tutors

One-to-one tutors, and ensemble coaches: both needed from the start, vocal and instrumental

Ensembles eventually envisaged: 

Kindermusic for 2 to 4 yr olds

Suzuki Violin Class for 2 to 4 yr olds

Orff Instrument Circle for 5 to 7 yr olds (glocks, xylophones etc)

Childrens Choir (8 to 11)

Youth Choir (12-18)

String Ensemble

Wind Ensemble 

Brass Band


Recorder Consort

Early Music Ensemble

African Drumming Group

Big Band Jazz Orchestra

Rock Bands

Any folk/ethnic instrument group based on community demand.

Start-up ensembles (being realistic here!): 

String Ensemble

African Drumming Group 

@One Choir 

(tailor-made to those that turn up? Or set up to anticipate three, advertise in hope, with tutors ready?)

Some tutors associated with St.John’s church could be approached initially.

The best must be sought, through advertising and head-hunting – could include some outstanding recently qualified music students.

Student undergraduate teachers could be included, but only if under a mentoring scheme …. and not because they might be cheaper!

Volunteer organisers

Parents mainly, since they will be required to bring their children and stay with them.

But some concerned members of the community who share the vision might be included.


Need to source from second hand shops, loan schemes, hire-to-buy schemes and donations.


10 years for the full effect to be realised in the community (ie when the 4 year-olds in the Kindermusic class become 14 year olds fully engaged in one of the bands or orchestras, going on courses, attaining leadership potential – and significant reduction in number of young people hanging around aimlessly in the park!)

5 years for the effect to be felt in any real way in terms of quality ensembles, individuals to reach the upper grades

2 years for ensembles to reach a stage where they can perform publicly and attract children and youth to say ‘I want to be part of that’

6 months to become established and for families and all school pupils to know about it


Essential – cannot, and must not, rely on subs or fees, though donations invited from those who can.

Possible sources: 

Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation

Arts Council England

Heritage Lottery Fund

(there are many others!)


Projects up and running:

B&NES Music Hub (fee-paying):

The Big Noise (El Sistema Scotland):

Example of a church-run project:

Scientific evidence of the benefits of musical training for all:




Call a meeting for all concerned.

If interested, email:

07950 583459



These are reflected in the congregation at St.John’s Keynsham, particularly in the choir, which has a huge age gap between the ages of 11 and 26. But also in the bands, where the gap is even wider: only one person under 40 out of a pool of some 24 musicians and singers.

This is being addressed at St.John’s through chorister recruitment (mainly through St.John’s School), and through the choral scholarship scheme, currently being set up.

HOWEVER, there remains the same gap in instrumental ability, reflected in:

  • lack of young instrumental players coming forward when we have and orchestra or ‘Elastic Band’

  • low numbers attaining higher grades, or even Grade 5

  • low instrumental ability among the children and young people associated with St.John’s altogether!

  • low level, (and in some cases total lack of) instrumental provision in schools

This might also be reflected in the low number of instrumental teachers living and/or teaching in and around Keynsham, but easy transport to teachers and music centres in Bath and Bristol would render this as an insignificant factor. However, travel to and from an instrument lesson, with a parent now legally compelled to stay, is a possible and likely tipping point when the enthusiasm wains.

So there is a disastrous lack of higher-grade playing in Keynsham, and with it a low level of excellence among local young musicians. 

This is quite apart from the affordability of lessons, so it is not a social/class factor, no matter how widely it is perceived as such.

In nailing down the particulars of the problem, it would be necessary to gain statistics as to how many children are having school, private and music centre lessons, how many are in ensembles and choirs, and of these, how many are likely to give up after a year, and how many are motivated enough to procede beyond grade 5.

It would also be most enlightening to send a questionnaire to parents of young musicians, asking what motivated them to encourage their children to learn an instrument, and what would galvinise them to encourage their children to make the effort to reach beyond grade 5. So many parents have said to me that they would let their child give up once they reached grade 5, if they didn’t enjoy it. What message does that give to our young as to the vital part musical training plays in our growth as human beings – intellectually, socially and culturally?

In the present cultural and political climate, the expected motivation (based on what I hear very often), is ‘to give them a release’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘relaxation’, ‘channel their creativity’; very few would so far say ‘because it will help them in their maths’, ‘enlarges their intellectual capacity’, or even ‘increases their memory capacity’. As research becomes more publicised in the media, more and more parents and school heads are realising this. I wonder if it will lead to re-diverting that extra money that went to English and Maths, that was originally ear-marked for music and the arts!

Our own education, based on principles of the so-called ‘enlightenment’, has led us to believe, along with the very influential 18th century musicologist Charles Burney, that music is an ‘innocent luxury…… unnecessary to human existence’. This belief, consciously or not, has given many a school head the excuse not to fund music, to close down A-level and even GCSE music provision, and not to push for the government-promised instrumental provision when it doesn’t materialise!!

B&NES Music Hub now has a truly enlightening and potentially galvinising clause in its manifesto for provision in Keynsham (and Bath and the whole of the county):

“…..many are unaware of the numerous recent studies that have shown that regular engagement with music from a young age leads to intellectual, social and personal development. Clear links to language development and the development of literacy, numeracy and concentration and listening skills have been recognised.” 

… from B&NES Music Hub website:

Would that the funds were forthcoming from central government to back this up!

So what are you waiting for?

Let’s meet, discuss, plan, galvinise and activate.

Chris Thomas  04.11.2019

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at

07950 583459


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