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Alarm bells ring musical cash register;Digest

MUSIC FOR THE MILLENIUM

As the Schools Prom testifies every November, music is flourishing in primary schools throughout the land - but this usually relies on a tireless, talented teacher and a head with business acumen.

Help should be at hand, however, for those with the will to teach music, but not the wherewithal, as the Government last month announced a pound;180-million boost for music.

David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, and Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, joined forces to double the amount available for music in schools and the community over three years.

The Standards Fund will give pound;150m to support local education authority music services, and the Arts Council Lottery Fund will give pound;30m, granted to the Youth Music Trust, which is chaired by Gavin Henderson, principal of Trinity College of Music.

The money will support musical instrument tuition for pupils; in-service training for teachers; supplying instruments to children, youth orchestras and bands; and advice and curriculum support for teachers.

Local authorities have made bids for two separate funds: a 100 per cent grant, "Protecting LEA Music Services" to those who retained funds to provide music services; and "Expanding Music Services", a 50 per cent grant available to all LEAs that are willing to match the amount to set up or improve their services.

Michael Wearne, chairman of the Federation of Music Services, which represents more than 100 organisations, said it was too soon to know who the main beneficiaries would be, although money would be spread across the age range.

"But all music services are aware of research that showed a drop of 300,000 five to 10-year-olds making music between 1993 and 1996 in lower to middle-income families," he said.

The research, carried out by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, triggered alarm bells in the Government and heralded this announcement.

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