Covid-19 can’t stop the music for Welsh children with launch of online platform

Covid-19 may have closed their schools but it hasn’t stopped the music playing for children in Denbighshire and Wrexham following the launch on an online music platform.

North Wales Music Co-operative launched Totally Music with the help of a £10,500 award by the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The North Wales Music Co-operative includes two sister organisations, Denbighshire Music Co-operative and Wrexham Music Co-operative, which were set up after funding for peripatetic music teachers was cut. 

Following the launch of Totally Music, peripatetic teachers who would normally tour the region providing singing and instrumental lessons to individuals and groups of pupils in different schools, have transferred their services online.

In just eight weeks they launched the online service – – with backing from the Welsh Government, Wrexham and Denbighshire county councils.

Now they teachers and pupils have come together to offer a face-to-face through the live online platform to provide music lessons from home.

Heather Powell, the head of service in Wrexham, said plans were already underway to launch an online platform when Covid-19 struck.

She said: “We really had to act. As well as lessons we put together a fun-filled package of online music challenges and games for children. Children need no equipment to be able to do many of our sessions thus making it very accessible when in lockdown and at home.

“We are adding more content to it all the time and every Monday we will send out the programme timetable to schools so they can send details out to kids learning at home or use as a quality resource in class.”

Heather added: “The £10,500 grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation means so much to us as it allows us to provide further resources for our pupil on the site.’’

The brass teacher’s life changed six years ago when she was made redundant after council cuts to music provision so launched a co-operative with some colleagues.

She said: “Through a lot of blood, sweat and tears we have made a huge success of Denbighshire Music Co-operative and won a number of awards. It has been an amazing journey for us and our pupils.

“Two years ago, Wrexham Council made the same cut and, hearing about Denbighshire Music Co-operative, they came to us and we set Wrexham up as a co-operative also.

“What followed then was a sharing of office space, resources, music and expertise to get Wrexham Music Co-operative launched.  Some of our tutors now work across both counites, particularly our Welsh speaking tutors whom are few and far between.

“This was a far bigger challenge as Wrexham Council had previously significantly funded lessons meaning little or no cost to parents. We have worked very hard to establish Wrexham school relations and help their 20 redundant tutors and then, Covid-19 hit?”

The rules on social distancing meant the organisation lost all its income with the closure of schools.

Heather said: “We have been working very hard to get kids online but have met with many barriers – safeguarding being the main one, we now have all policies in place to deliver a quality online experience for our pupils. 

“Our focus is on fun, wellbeing and mental health,” said Heather. “It has really been met with huge approval from kids, teachers and parents. We have always been determined to reach out to all kids and not be an elitist service.”

Now they have come together to offer a face-to-face live online platform via Totally Music which they can directly teach pupils who are learning from home.

Professional guitarist Wyn Pearson, the artistic lead of the new website who is also one of the tutors, said: “Totally Music a fun-filled website packed with video tutorials to promote the musical development of our youngsters.

“A project like this would normally have taken several months to complete, if not longer. But we have managed to get it up and running within weeks which is a real achievement.

“We’re all extremely proud of the service and the opportunities it offers to children who may not otherwise have access to music lessons. The aim is to provide access to high quality music resources, with a focus on fun.”

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “Music is not only an important skill, it’s great fun.  By launching Totally Music, North Wales Music Co-operative are giving young people something to do and look forward to.” 

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