Oasis star helps next generation of guitar heroes

17th April 2015 at 01:00
Celebrity donations fund scheme to engage students in education

Guitar lessons funded with the help of famous musicians including Noel Gallagher are being used to get young people engaged in education in an innovative new project at City of Glasgow College.

Under the scheme, run in collaboration with the Prince's Trust Team Programme and the Guitars4Life initiative, a tutor attends the college once a week to teach the students guitar. The hope is that they will then go on to other courses of study.

Guitars4Life is run by the Clutha Trust, established in the wake of the helicopter crash at the Clutha Bar in Glasgow in 2013, which killed 10 people. The pub was well known for its musical performances and it is this legacy that the trust is attempting to continue.

About pound;6,500 has been raised so far, with pound;4,000 coming from the sale of a guitar donated by Gallagher. A variety of instruments and memorabilia from world-renowned musicians such as Bob Marley, Muse and Spandau Ballet are yet to be sold, with the proceeds earmarked to fund education projects.

Fundraising volunteer Dutch Rukowski said the work was partly inspired by a break-in at the Clutha Bar shortly after the crash, committed by four 16- to 18-year-olds.

Mr Rukowski said: "The owner of the Clutha Bar began to ask himself why they did that. Maybe it was because they had never had anything else to do."

Instrumental learning

In addition to the City of Glasgow College course, the Clutha Trust currently supports another at Royston Youth Action in Glasgow and a number of one-off events and classes.

In the coming months, it hopes in addition to launch a Fiddles4Life scheme. "One of the instruments that young people, especially young females, often want to learn is the fiddle, so we will offer that," Mr Rukowski said. The trust also has plans for a Rap4Life scheme.

Nicola MacTaggart, Prince's Trust team leader at City of Glasgow College and a lecturer on the course, said: "This is an opportunity to engage young people in learning through music. All the students are complete beginners and learning how to play has really built up their confidence and been great for their personal development."

Ms MacTaggart explained that most of the young people had no qualifications. "The learning environment is often quite a negative one, so we try to make it interesting for them. They get to decorate their classroom as well."

The students, who are about to start their sixth week of learning, have already been on a week-long residential course and sampled a variety of other subjects at the college.

"The course is all about using alternative teaching methods, one of which is music, to engage the students. As well as learning how to play guitar, they are taught other skills that will help them to gain employment," Ms MacTaggart said.

"Throughout the course, it's my job to suss out what interests them and to suggest college courses or lines of employment that might be suitable."

The young people will soon be starting work placements in areas tailored to their individual interests, from hairdressing to construction and retail.

In addition to facilitating the lessons and supplying the guitars, the Clutha Trust has also given the young learners the chance to attend gigs at the iconic Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow - something they would "not normally have the financial means to experience", according to Ms MacTaggart.

`I can see a difference'

Clutha Trust volunteer Billy Coyle said he had already seen changes in the young people enrolled on the Guitars4Life course. "They show they care, and they are really appreciative and see this as an opportunity," he said. "You can see the difference in them over the weeks they have been on the course."

Students are referred to the Prince's Trust Team Programme by agencies such as Glasgow City Council's social work department and the 16+ Learning Choices programme, Skills Development Scotland and the Job Centre.

The course has already proved successful in offering young people routes to positive destinations, with 70 per cent of those completing the course going on to enter employment, training or education within three months.

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