There is a significant body of evidence about the benefits of music teaching. When we were first established, there was little recognition of this, and music had virtually disappeared from local schools' curriculums. Now it has come back, which we applaud; however, we believe we still have much to offer.
In particular, we are working on structured activities in small groups of up to 20 (larger groups are split between staff for part of the session) with closer adult involvement than is possible in school. There is greater scope for individual creativity than in the classroom. All our children and young people are with us because they want to be, so there is no issue over discipline or boredom. What we do is driven by the children and young people themselves and their parents, in a way that is not possible in a school setting where a curriculum must be followed (though we do keep in mind the national curriculum and key stage approach; we also subscribe to the approach of Every Child Matters . At the end of every term, we put on a show, so every child receives regular positive feedback and applause, with a real sense of achievement-this also is unusual in a school setting. And our atmosphere is totally unlike school!
The low cost of group sessions (and our flexible attitude to charges) puts us in reach of every child. We also loan instruments to our members to make these instruments accessible. While we would not claim to be drawing in young people who are already being involved in anti-social behaviour, we believe that by giving our children confidence and skills which stay with them for life, together with positive interaction with adults, we may help them to resist negative pressures in the future.