More should feel the magic of music;Opinion;Letter

8th January 1999 at 00:00
I JOIN with Gaby McPhedran in celebrating the success of British youth orchestras (Friday magazine, December 18). If only more children could have such opportunities as those described.

Running a youth orchestra is indeed a hard slog and takes an immense amount of energy and good will from parents and teachers. It also takes money. As a parent who has been involved with the Hackney Youth Orchestra for many years, I know well the anxieties of waiting to see if funding applications have been successful. However, without music classes and instrumental teaching in schools, there will be insufficient players to make up an orchestra.

In Hackney, as in many other local education authorities, music tuition is suffering. My daughter is lucky enough to have violin classes through the youth orchestra and private piano lessons. But, her school has not been able to provide music lessons this year and as a result, she may not be able to take GCSE music.

While I am concerned about my daughter, I am deeply distressed that music is fast becoming the preserve of middle-class children. The membership of our orchestra reflects the local multi-cultural community, but how long will this continue?

I agree with Andrew Sherwood of the Brighton Youth Orchestra that "playing great music changes young people's lives. It's a magic they will never forget". We need to ensure that this experience is not limited to the privileged few.

Amanda Hayes 55 Mapleden Road Hackney, London E8

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