Michael Cross: The rhythm of life is everywhere

Peterborough Centre for Young Musicians at Ormiston Academy.  Charlie Westbrooke (16)
Peterborough Centre for Young Musicians at Ormiston Academy. Charlie Westbrooke (16)
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For most people music is at the heart of daily life and for the majority of others it plays a regular part of everyday activity. It features on almost every TV programme and advert, is heard in bars and many other public spaces – including lifts. It underscores video games and films, attempts to calm us over the telephone whilst we wait ‘patiently’ for an operator and where would ‘Strictly’ be without it?

Millions of people tune into radio shows and millions more, worldwide, buy, borrow and download music to ease the boredom of long journeys and the daily commute. Music is a welcome distraction from the effort and endless repetition of exercise and routine.

Music entertains, inspires and comforts people. Most of us will have a favourite song or piece of music that is special to us, evoking memories of people and places, playing a prominent role in the milestones of our lives - including of course our funerals.

Music is such an ‘everyday thing’ that we take it for granted. Whilst it would appear that we have a healthy number of musicians – any trip through Peterborough city centre is testament to this – the reality is somewhat different.

True, many young people continue to pick up guitars and drumsticks and, thanks to Mr. Cowell et al, we have a steady supply of vocalists. However, there is a considerable lack of instrumentalists and a growing list of ‘endangered’ instruments.

The number and range of players has diminished significantly over the past 20 years. The 2011 National Plan for Music Education was introduced, in part, to address this decline, providing access, opportunities and excellence in music education.

With funding from Arts Council England, Peterborough’s music education programme is led by Peterborough Music Hub – working with schools, colleges, music educationalists and organisations and professional practitioners.

Locally their work has promoted a programme of Whole Class Ensemble Tuition in schools, supported the work of the Peterborough Youth Orchestra and Youth Ensembles, facilitated workshops and events with companies such as Britten Sinfonia and, this Saturday, will introduce the Peterborough Centre for Young Musicians, offering weekend ensemble sessions at Ormiston Bushfield Academy in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Parents and guardians are vital to the success of these initiatives, encouraging all children to develop a love of and interest in music (beyond playing it through their headphones), keeping music live for future generations. Families should appreciate that the benefits of music education go beyond the fun of playing too, supporting numeracy and literacy skills, aural and listening skills, teamwork and community skills, increasing wellbeing and self-confidence.

The Peterborough Music Hub offers a range of bursaries for lessons and can provide free instrument loan and support through the schools. For more information email: musichub@peterborough.gov.uk visit www.peterboroughmusichub.org.uk or talk to the school music coordinator.

Music is a truly international language – but it needs more individuals ‘speaking’ it.

Book a lesson for your children today.

Michael Cross is PHACE/Peterborough Music Hub Programme Coordinator