I am writing this article having just been appointed as an Ambassador for The Benedetti Foundation, a role I am very much looking forward to! The Benedetti Foundation, set up by violinist Nicola Benedetti, aims to unite those who believe that music is an integral part of education, by sharing the best examples of musicianship and teaching through workshops, performances and other events. This organisation's ethos and ambitions are truly great, the desire to be fully inclusive whilst maintaining the highest standards, is something I have always believed in.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, classical music has become more accessible to the majority of people, due to its availability online, and for free. This momentum has allowed us to start to break down the barriers which cause classical music to be considered “elitist”. This crucial step in the development of our art, and following the pandemic, will allow us to return to live music making quickly and without losing momentum.
But there have been, and still are so many obstacles which causes music making to be inaccessible to so many young people. The main issues being money and location.
Community music making in the UK is not supported by the government. There is limited funding available for it and so organisations must rely on charitable organisations or private individuals. This means that a large portion of the UK's adult population are not able to take part in activities which have been proven to have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.
Now whilst many of the world’s greatest musician’s have benefitted from the excellence offered at the UK’s top conservatoires, "normal" music education in the UK is a poor offering to what is available in many other European countries. Music as a subject within schools is grossly underfunded and undervalued in the UK and so encouraging children and young people to take up the profession is extremely difficult without the support of outside organisations.
But unless you live within close proximity to a major city and/or have several thousands of pounds to spare each year, accessing these additional opportunities can be difficult. This posses a threat to the sustainability of live music, both for performers and audiences.
It is at this point that I am inspired by the infrastructure of my new country - Sweden. Here music, culture and the arts are funded and endorsed by local and national government and the Kulturskolan (Cultural School) provide an obvious space for creative learning at a reduced rate (approx £180 per term for 40 minutes principal study, 20 minutes second study and 2 hours of ensemble per week - and even less for preparatory courses). This allows children and young people, whatever their background the opportunity to access quality education from an early age.
Music of all kinds, including classical and orchestral music, is an expression of emotion and self. Music unites us in a way that only art can - it is a universal language and one that speaks to everyone. It is therefore a crucial part of our society.
As a musicians, I believe we have a collective responsibility to educate, inform and inspire the rest of the world, and particularly young people who are the future of our craft. Art in any form is continually evolving and so to abandon the educational element of our profession, is to limit its sustainability.
This is why I am so excited to be working with The Benedetti Foundation this year and to be starting my journey as a teacher and educator!
(If you would like to know more about my work as a teacher, or even book a lesson, check out the "Teaching" page or message me on the "Contact" page of my website. I am able to teach all levels of cello and music theory as well as beginner piano and violin.)