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Last year, for the third time, Hertfordshire's music service was voted a winner in the National Music Council awards. Every week, 24,000 pupils, 17 per cent of the pupil population, receive vocal or instrumental teaching. An army of 600 peripatetic staff (not full-time) tours the county to teach children in schools. There are seven music centres and 15 Saturday-morning schools.

One reason music is so popular in Hertfordshire is that a lot of musicians workng in and around London live locally. In addition, Harpenden is home to the National Children's Wind Orchestra.

As well as the traditional music combinations - the county's youth symphony orchestra has just issued its second CD - there are music therapists (four work in special schools), a gamelan Indonesian orchestra that introduces pupils to the spiritual side of music and, through the Ravidassia centre in Hitchin, Indian tabla and dance.

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