When I was in reception at Ashmole Primary School, the music education charity London Music Masters (LMM) came in, giving each student in my class the opportunity to learn the violin. Passionate about giving pupils in inner city schools an excellent music education who otherwise would not have one, LMM gave us learning resources, outstanding opportunities to perform alongside prestigious organisations at world-class venues and ensured that we were taught by teachers fuelled by passion and enthusiasm.
At LMM’s core, they act from a place of creativity, patience and care which I believe is why I am still playing the violin today. LMM never forced me to practise, but encouraged me by reminding me of my talent for the violin and how much there is to learn. Whilst they care about improving your musical skills they also want you to have fun, collaborate and, ultimately, be happy. This meant lessons were always well-planned and highly creative. LMM are a fun organisation who have truly instilled in us that we can achieve anything - all it takes is creativity.
I am now studying for my GCSEs, and, at the time of writing this, I’ll be taking my music exam tomorrow. I have achieved a lot since LMM first handed me a violin. Thanks to the charity and their connections, I’ve gone on to play in a pre-concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, where we performed Bach’s Double Concerto in A Minor. I also auditioned for RCM’s junior department and got in, and I am now in my fifth year with them. Not long ago, LMM asked me to return to Ashmole to perform in front of the pupils and the entire LMM team. I’ll never forget this memory, because as I stood there playing I was struck by the fact that I was once one of the young players who were looking up at me, and who are themselves on the cusp of beginning the most transformational musical journey.
Recently, myself and 19 other LMM alumni members led a campaign called #SaveOurMusic in order to celebrate high quality music education. As a group, we devised pop-up performances that we then performed to the unsuspecting public at Portcullis House, King’s Cross and the Southbank Centre. We organised everything ourselves, so it was initially quite hard to settle on one idea as a group. In the end, our music mash-up was a real mix of genres with works by The Beatles, Bizet and Ariane Grande. We wanted to do as much as we could to generate a dialogue about the need for music in schools, so we put our creativity to use and did a photoshoot for use on social media, created vlogs and a ten minute video. We were also interviewed by Scala Radio, and I was able to share with listeners how fun my musical journey has been. Ultimately, #SaveOurMusic was a great opportunity for us to let the public know our view on music education. It was also very exciting; when we performed at Parliament, the MPs were so impressed by one impromptu performance that they took us on a tour of Westminster!
Given how long LMM have been in my life I’ve had so many other memorable moments with them, but one that will always stand out for me was during a violin class. Our teacher would hand out hula hoops for us to put on the top of our violin bow whilst we practised, to ensure we got the right angle across the strings. I remember that every time my teacher gave me a hula hoop, I would cheekily eat it straight away instead of doing the task! Our teacher would also give us tic tacs for when we practiced our vibrato, and I ended up eating them all so he filled the box with grains of rice! They are sweet memories that will stay with me forever, and I am very grateful to LMM for all of the moments with them that have enriched my life and expanded my mind.
You can find out more about the work of London Music Masters here