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Music matters so let's have action

PUBLISHED: 23:36 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:47 05 July 2010

"IF music be the food of love, play on" is a well know Skakespeare phrase and ANDREW KITCHEN, Waveney District Council's arts and heritage manager, puts the spotlight on music and how it influences, stimulates and encourages people's development … particularly the young.

“IF music be the food of love, play on” is a well know Skakespeare phrase and ANDREW KITCHEN, Waveney District Council's arts and heritage manager, puts the spotlight on music and how it influences, stimulates and encourages people's development … particularly the young.

MUSIC matters - and most people hear some music every day even if they don't want to.

The host of good reasons for listening to music and additional skills acquired in learning to play or sing are legendary.

But opportunities for live music making, learning, playing and appreciating are scarcer than they have ever been for most people.

Gone are the days, for most folk, of gathering round the piano as a family to sing and play together - somehow, neither pub karaoke nor “singalong” to Abba songs in the cinema, don't quite compare. Even teaching music in schools at all levels is a variable, despite the demands of the national curriculum - albeit some do terrific work.

Fortunately in this area there are choirs and choral societies of fine repute and musical theatre, amateur and professional, caters well for enthusiastic audiences. But watching is very different from doing as members of successful local orchestras, bands and enterprises will endorse.

Suffolk County Music Service does stirling work in providing some youngsters with musical instruments, training and performance opportunities and other agencies supply music learning experiences - often without fuss or publicity.

The education team from Aldeburgh, for example, have been providing opportunities in Lowestoft, sponsored by local businesses, for some years. Lowestoft's resident orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, do more than play at the Marina Theatre - musicians have undertaken inventive “outreach sessions” in various venues for several years and always offer a free open rehearsal for parties of school children just before every Marina concert.

And when it comes to rock music, Waveney Amplifier, funded by Suffolk and Waveney Councils among others, attract almost 100 young people three nights a week in Halesworth with additional and developing sessions in Lowestoft. This is much more than playing loudly - organising, budgeting and promoting concerts, recording, writing music and teaching others are all part of the work undertaken by the young players.

And 2013 (beyond the Olympics) sees the centenary of one the world's greatest 20th century composers, Benjamin Britten - born and bred in Lowestoft. Already the internationally renowned Britten- Pears Foundation is planning a series of events and education projects to run locally over the intervening years (in association with Waveney District Council's arts and heritage service).

Some have suggested this might be enough music input - but the potential is bigger and the involvement possibilities wider. Not everyone of every age has access to music making - and that's the real challenge.

Recently I wrote about a funding bid for music making. That didn't work but the aspiration continues. Several organisations, schools and music makers and teachers made contact wanting to help. They joined the organisations listed above in the hope of improving local provision. I am now keen to hear from yet more.

And practically we want to organise a collective brain-storming session very early in the new year of all interested parts - and follow up with real action.

Let's put our heads together and make music - because it matters. But first I need to hear more than music - I need ideas, possibilities and promises now, please.

Contact me at Andrew.kitchen@waveney.gov.uk Town Hall, High Street, Lowestoft, NR32 1HS.

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