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Music is high note in lockdown for students

Posted onPosted on 19th Nov

The number of students learning instruments at a school has doubled this year as they turn to music to boost their mental health during the coronavirus restrictions.

Shirebrook Academy has seen a significant increase in the number of Year Seven pupils wanting to learn a musical instrument this year, with 50 new starters boosting the total number of students taking lessons to 80­ — with plenty more on the waiting list.

The uptake is in defiance of national trends, with a study from the British Phonograph Industry last year reporting a 21% decrease in music lesson availability in state schools over the previous five years.

Adam Case, head of arts at the academy, says that the combination of being in lockdown and seeing music being performed on online platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, as well as TV, has inspired students to learn how to play an instrument themselves.

And he thinks that for many students, being able to learn and play music may well be a way for them to maintain a healthy outlook during lockdown.

He said: “Music has always been a big part of Shirebrook and we recognise that now, more than ever, young people need the creative arts, so the fact that the number of students who have asked to learn an instrument has doubled is really welcome.

“Learning an instrument is an excellent way to support wellbeing and mental health, as well as offering students the means to process the complex emotions that they may be experiencing as a result of coronavirus.”

He added that while guitar has proven to be the most popular, there has been a huge uptake in woodwind and violin – with the school’s peripatetic music teachers now working at maximum capacity and boasting an ever-growing waiting list.

Although the lessons are subject to Covid-secure measures, which include increased distancing, no sharing of instruments or sheet music, cleaning between lessons and ensuring students are taught within bubbles, the school is committed to ensuring that as many students who want to learn can do so at a time when other schools have chosen to suspend music lessons.

Among the music students attending Shirebrook Academy is River Hopkins, who this year became something of a YouTube sensation when his song about Mansfield went viral, while a host of Year Seven students are now keen to become musicians themselves.

Among them is William Ford, 11, who said: “I wanted to try something new and was inspired to learn the violin. I was very pleased when I learned that Shirebook offered instrumental lessons.”

Fellow music student Alexia Corden, also 11, added: “The lessons are fun and are a great way of expressing myself. I definitely don’t want them to end.”

Adam added: “It is promising to think that there’s a new generation of potential musicians and artists, who are beginning to emerge in these uncertain times.

“River joined the school four years ago and showed an amazing talent for music and guitar and has improved exponentially over the years. He is a great asset to the school and we expect big things from him moving forward.

“It makes me proud that pupils are making the best of the situation and wanting to engage with something new and exciting by learning a new skill, which they may well carry with them for the rest of their life — whether it be professionally or as a hobby.”