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Banker's orders

Free workshops and subsidised musical instruments are on offer to schools thanks to a high-street bank's exciting new initiative. Dorothy Walker reports

A group of young musicians from Bristol have been the first to benefit from a pound;10 million scheme designed to inspire musical creativity in schools around the country. Students from Hengrove Community Arts College had the chance to work with visiting musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the first of 350 workshops being run this year by Note for Note, a fund-raising initiative from Lloyds TSB.

Launched in February, the programme invites the bank's customers to donate from their accounts to schools of their choice. Schools can use the funds to buy creative workshops and Yamaha musical instruments at discount prices. Donors can also give to a Music Boost Fund, which supports special schools and those facing challenging circumstances.

Lloyds TSB will match donations to the tune of pound;10 million over the next three years, with its funds being used to subsidise offers. This year, free Guildhall workshops will be offered to 300 registered schools, and popular music education specialists Access to Music will run 50 free events in special schools.

The one-day workshop at Hengrove was held in May for 22 GCSE music students from Years 10 and 11. The theme was Bring Your Own, and the young musicians improvised on instruments of their choice, including guitars, drums and keyboards. The whole group collaborated on a composition that was performed for fellow pupils at the end of the day, earning enthusiastic applause.

Headteacher Stephen Murtagh says: "The students really enjoyed it and felt they learned a great deal. All had different musical interests and abilities, and the day gave them a rare opportunity to work together as a group. The workshop staff pulled everyone together as a team very quickly.

Three musicians from the Note for Note scheme worked alongside our music teacher. We can't usually field that level of expertise, and the experience was very positive."

He adds that working towards the 30-minute performance was not only exciting, it gave pupils a new perspective on music: "It does strike me how few young people have been to a live music performance. So much of their music is recorded, and they watch their music idols on TV.

"Some are planning to do music A-level at the local college, and they were interested in how the workshop leaders got into the music profession. They saw that professional musicians aren't just those they watch on TV - there are others working at a more local level."

He says: "We are strong in the arts, but we are not as strong in music as we would like to be. We would certainly like to follow up with more workshops."

Three other types of Guildhall workshop are on offer. Students can create soundtracks for films and computer games; they can look at the technicalities and components of rhythm, using music from around the world, or they can explore ways of making sound with the body, manipulating the sounds with the help of music technology.

* Schools can buy from a range of 59 Yamaha instruments, available at subsidised discounts of 15 to 35 per cent.

Tel: 0845 9400400 www.lloydstsb.comnote_for_note.asp?link=side_navigation

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