The Welsh Government has confirmed that investment in key areas of music provision will be trebled over the next three years under its new National Plan for Music Education.
The initial announcement was made on the 17th May by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, with full details released a few days later in a formal document.
Over the next three years it will see funding trebled to £13.5 million with the programmes rolled out from September 2022.
It forms part of the Welsh Government's 'Programme for Government' commitment for the period 2021 to 2026 and is based on recommendations on music education provision that arose from previous reports given in 2015, 2018 and 2020.
Learn to play
The stated aim of the new National Music Service is "to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in schools and communities."
At its launch the Minister stated: "Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument.
I remember how important it was to me to be able to have music tuition when I was in school and to learn the baritone and to play in brass ensembles."
He added: "I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition, the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills is too often limited by cost and affordability nowadays, so we're making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people, so that they can learn and experience the joy of music.
The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world."
Extensive purchasing of instruments has already been undertaken in preparation for the launch, with 4BR understanding that it includes the full range of brass band instruments — including 36,000 pBuzz beginner instruments.
A spokesperson for teh company told 4BR: "Warwick Music Group work with schools and education organisations around the world.
Wales is leading the approach to music learning internationally with such a large investment in funding but also recognising the wider wellbeing benefits of music for children and families post Covid.
The music carousel in Year 3 will see all 7-8 year olds across Wales having a broad introduction to instruments and we're delighted that the Welsh Government have selected the pBuzz to start the brass journey."
Although the announcement has been broadly welcomed by education and music providers, although there has been some concern over the way in which it has been undertaken without a great of analysis into what instruments are required and in what realistic numbers throughout each local authority.
As one business owner told 4BR: "This is fantastic news, but I wish they spoke to us to find out more. We are concerned that this isn't just a three year sticking plaster approach. This needs long term investment year in year out for a generation and more."
The current plan will aim to make access to music education fairer and more consistent, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs.
Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.
The National Music Service will operate as a 'hub', with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service's programmes with a wide range of organisations.
It aims to help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings as well as explore music as a career for study or for life. It will also train music service teachers to help school teachers deliver music activities.
This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talentFirst Minister, Mark Drakeford
A number of new programme initiatives are being launched to do this — from 'first experiences' of playing an instrument of a child's choice, to 'live music experiences' that will hopefully enhance participation in both school and community activities. Ongoing 'music tuition' and 'music pathways' will also be explored and developed.
The new service will set up a national instrument, resources and equipment library to ensure a readily available stock of instruments will be made available to those who need them.
There is also a commitment to help support youngsters in learning music outside school.
A 'Making music with others — music activities and ensembles' programme aims to build connections with groups such as brass bands.
On its launch the First Minister of Wales, which was delayed because of local elections, Mark Drakeford said: "The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I'm delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.
Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music."
He added: "We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these.
This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent."