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Are opportunities to excel in music limited by postcode and middle earners income?

(41 Posts)
teabiscuit22 Fri 23-Oct-15 10:41:21

My son, is now 10 and currently Grade 6 on violin and 4 on piano. When he started playing we did not expect him to play so well. We live not far from Newcastle, however his music tuition is becoming prohibitively expensive and we feel that there are very few financially supported opportunities for musicians up here.
We are in the process of considering secondary schools and would like him to go somewhere where he will meet other excelling musicians. But no schools which place great importance on music education, particularly private schools have a music scholarship. Durham and Edinburgh are too far away. the Sage has music programmes but we will not be eligile for much if any financial help as technically we earn too much even though we don't really as we are middle income earners.
I am so disappointed with our private schools and lack of opportunities they provide for not so rich but not so poor state school children who are musical.
Up here it sometimes feels like there are opportunities but only if you are well off making playing orchestral instruments for the rich or supported poor only.
We really wanted to join the NCO but with the orchestras taking place down south again it is all prohibitively expensive.
Where can middle income earners turn for help with financing music?

dodobookends Fri 23-Oct-15 12:23:18

Have you heard of the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS)? It provides funding for talented musicians and classical dancers to attend schools suited to their talents, and funding is based on a sliding scale according to parental income.

teabiscuit22 Fri 23-Oct-15 12:58:32

Thanks dodobookends. yes I have heard of the scheme but we will not receive very much through this, unfortunately as we are possibly just over the threshold of this actually making a big difference.

Mistigri Fri 23-Oct-15 16:08:57

I agree it is very unfair that ability to access music training is so dependent on income.

However I'd be interested to see how much this affects outcomes as most young kids who do music at school and play in orchestras will eventually drop out - often I get the impression that music is seen (by parents) as a passport to good schools and isnt necessarily viewed as a worthwhile activity in itself (my piano teacher friend in London reports a lot of pressure to get young kids through grades so they can get into the right schools - she hates it).

Most of the professional musicians that I know started later - my daughter's former piano teacher who has a formal music education and is a working composer only started playing piano in his teens (much like my own dd who is 14 and has been playing for less than 18 months) and my other very musical friend (who has worked as a composer, used to teach at music at degree level, and plays in a well regarded jazz band) only started to learn an instrument in his late 20s!!!

Ubik1 Fri 23-Oct-15 16:09:26


ReallyTired Fri 23-Oct-15 16:21:32

That is really hard and unfair. Have your contacted your council's music service to see what they offer. (Sorry if that is a silly question.) My son is doing a one day singing/ composing course through Hertfordshire music service for free next week.

I agree its unfair that its always the squeezed middle who lose out. My son wants both singing and guitar lessons and I can't afford both.

AllTheToastIsGone Fri 23-Oct-15 17:57:20

I'd agree. I was asking some questions on another thread about nco and got some really helpful replies. Then I went and looked up the prices on their website. It's over 1k! The bursary support cuts out at 59k gross. The thing is that when you have several kids how much can you justify spending on a hobby for one of them. I think I will keep paying for private lessons and look out for a local orchestra.

Abraid2 Fri 23-Oct-15 18:04:14

*I am so disappointed with our private schools and lack of opportunities they provide for not so rich but not so poor state school children who are musical.
Up here it sometimes feels like there are opportunities but only if you are well off making playing orchestral instruments for the rich or supported poor only.
We really wanted to join the NCO but with the orchestras taking place down south again it is all prohibitively expensive.
Where can middle income earners turn for help with financing music?*

Thing is, pretty well all those bursaries come out of the fees of other middle-earning parents. We barely managed to keep paying school fees during a period of redundancy and low earnings. I got fed up with being approached from the schools to contribute to bursary funds when I could barely manage to keep my own children in private schooling, including music lessons. Some schools like Eton have huge foundations; many others do not. They rely on fee income. That's me and other parents like me! And we are very stretched.

balletgirlmum Fri 23-Oct-15 18:06:08

If you're above the MDS income limit you're not what I would call a middle earner though I appeciate everyone's circumstances are different in terms of outgoings.

We have a very small mortgage for example.

M4blues Fri 23-Oct-15 18:13:00

I disagree, balletgirl. I would say that 59k is smack bang middle earning territory. 2 people earning just under 30k is def in the middle bracket.

M4blues Fri 23-Oct-15 18:14:14

Sorry came on hear to sympathise as I don't have anything constructive to add. I hope someone can point you in the right direction for a bit of help soon.

Robertaquimby Fri 23-Oct-15 18:51:26

Scotland has four specialist music units attached to state schools. Some kids board, others are day pupils. It is all free. Kids do very well eg Royal Academy, Royal College etc. Entrance is on aptitude rather than the level they have achieved and they can apply any time throughout tbeir school career.

Kids come from England so might the Edinburgh one be an option for your son, even whrn he is a bit older?Think it is Broughton High. Glasgow one is Douglas Academy.

Agree about orchestra fees. Looked at NYOS for my son but it is the price of a family holiday so he is not auditioning

balletgirlmum Fri 23-Oct-15 19:34:04

On £59k you would get considerable help on MDS

balletgirlmum Fri 23-Oct-15 19:39:50

I don't know how many other dependent children the OP has but with no ither dependent children on An income of £60k you'd havecto pay around £6,700 per year including boarding.

With a couple of dependent children the contribution would be around £5000

Full fees at Chethams is nearly £32,000 including boarding.

My dd is at a different school where there are not enough places to go around. She's on a bursary & we pay about £9,500 per year not including boarding.

11112222 Fri 23-Oct-15 19:54:01

have you looked around for local grants? There is often money available for music courses or equipment. Music is expensive. Have you asked at CHeethams what fee's you would be expected to pay? You may be pleasantly surprised.
Good luck.

teacherwith2kids Fri 23-Oct-15 20:05:52

Are you already doing everything that your local Music Hub / ex county music service is offering?

Northumberland one is here but there may be others locally depending where exactly you are.

In our area, they are surprisingly poorly publicised, but once you are 'in' you realise that there is a whole network of groups - DS started with jazz. stumbling into it via a week's course one summer holiday, but now also does one of our county music centres, and could do woodwind ensemble too - 3 groups per week, year round, for under well £150 annually, and with progression from junior ensembles up to high quality senior orchestras.

yeOldeTrout Fri 23-Oct-15 20:06:12

It's the same for most talents, really?? Nothing special about music, methinks. Affluent parents get to help their kids more than poor parents can. Was ever thus. My neighbours never go on holiday & scrimp by rest of the time so that their son can do footie academy (very mad). Others make huge sacrifices on small incomes (e.g. Lewis Hamilton).

AllTheToastIsGone Fri 23-Oct-15 21:36:17

I just wanted to say that when I said the bursaries cut out at 59k I only meant the nco. Only I got it slightly wrong and it is 57k. Also looking again on their website the courses for the younger children are cheaper than the older ones.

I do think though that music has is something that is much easier to access if you are well off. The only school music lessons available in my area are short group ones. So unless you had a parent who taught you how would you reach the necessary standard anyway for something like the nco without parents who could afford private lessons?

Katymac Fri 23-Oct-15 21:48:43

TBH at least middle income children get a possible chance at playing & creating music or participating in dance

If your income is below £20K you have almost sod all chance of even affording lessons

The MDS and later the DaDA are very good sources of funding - but by the time they are useful a child would have already missed years of potential training, during which children from more average earning have accessed lessons

inHiding4now Sat 24-Oct-15 21:22:27

yes - for the Saturday music courses (like Junior RAM, Junior RNCM etc etc) the fees are about £3000 - and if you want a bursary, you must apply and then any scholarships will be based on your income. If you are over the magic MDS scheme number of £59,000 (?) then you will probably pay full fees.

Tuition for the specialist music schools, (Purcell, Chethams, Wells, Menuhin or St Mary's), is sliding scale (based on your income) IF your child gets an MDS grant (which is based on two auditions). If you around the £57,000 mark then you might not pay very much (the fees are usually listed on websites of these schools). HOWEVER - once you turn your kid over to one of these schools, you don't have much say in what's happening with his/her music and sometimes the academics aren't very good.

Some music services are excellent - but I'm guessing that Northumberland has had loads of cuts. So - you are correct teabiscuit - it's really tough out there...and bloody expensive too. Probably one of the best things you could do is to get him through his grades with high marks .. this lends credibility to any sort of financial requests you might make based on his talent. This also means getting him through the grade 5 theory and working hard on the aural portions of grades 7 & 8 - cuz they aren't easy unless you have perfect pitch. (And if your son is already so advanced then it is quite possible that he DOES have perfect pitch - do you know?) As for NCO - this isn't necessarily everything it's cracked up to be. Have you looked at ProCorda North? this could be really enjoyable for your son...

in terms of private (independent) schools, then it's quite possible that he could get a scholarship from an independent ... if it's a local (to you) place, it would cover his music lesson fees. If you send him to a boarding school - there are quite a few that have excellent music programs (Uppingham comes to mind.. but there are many more) and would probably give you a lot of scholarship for a grade 8 fiddle player... so - get that Independent schools handbook - and start checking things out.

Music education is an investment.... it will enhance your child's life when he is older... one of mine has started uni - and absolutely loves the orchestra and other musical activities that are open to all of the students. It was the same for dh - he says he would have had no social life at uni had the orchestra not existed.... life is different and better when one has these 'special' interests... don't give up on helping your son!

Best of luck!

Moominmammacat Sun 25-Oct-15 04:28:42

Perfect pitch can be a pestilence. It does not suggest advanced skills and it's not that useful for aural!

inHiding4now Sun 25-Oct-15 10:24:41

Moominmammacat - oh ... I didn't know you have perfect pitch?

ReallyTired Sun 25-Oct-15 12:08:44

Extreme perfect pitch can make life difficult to function. I met autistic children with perfect pitch who are driven up the the wall because the electric lights are buzzing (very quietly) out of tune.

There is absolute pitch and relative pitch. Absolute pitch is the sense of pitch you are born with and relative pitch is learned. I think that having an excellent sense of pitch is an advantage as a musican especially if you are playing the violin. I don't think that perfect pitch is essential. There are professional musicans without perfect pitch.

pigsinmud Sun 25-Oct-15 15:04:55

Dh is a pro musician and he does not have perfect pitch. We think 2 out of our 4 dc do and it happens to be the 2 that find learning an instrument relatively easy.

pigsinmud Sun 25-Oct-15 15:10:48

I agree with Katymac though. Middle income earners have more music/dance opportunities than those on a low income. Your ds can still make great progress in music. He doesn't need to go to a top music school. Dh made music a career and he went to a crap comp and was only average in his teens.

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