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Big Month of Music

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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Thousands of Midlands youngsters to make sweet music
A concerted month-long celebration of young people's music-making is to take place across the West Midlands during the course of March. More than 140,000 children and young people are due to take part in the Big Month of Music, the largest celebration of young people's music-making in the region. In all, the ambitious project will cover 130 concerts, gigs and events during March, from large-scale, region-wide projects Big Sing, Big Play and Spotlight, to local TRY open days where families can try instruments and find out about local opportunities. There will also be a wide range of concerts and gigs covering an exceptional musical range from jazz to pops orchestras, choir and recorder festivals to orchestral weekends and rock and pop galas. Big Month of Music is the first major project of West Midlands Music a unique collective of all 14 of the region's music services, and the largest of its kind in the UK. The initiative is designed to celebrate young people's musical achievements and inspire and encourage them to continue their musical discoveries by signposting ongoing opportunities.

Severn Arts
Students from Severn Arts rehearsing


Local schoolchildren will be involved in the Big Play, filming One Minute of Music from their First Access music sessions which give all children the opportunity to learn an instrument in a classroom setting. All the 'minutes' from across the West Midlands will then be profiled in a virtual celebration via social media, one after another, throughout the day on Friday 27 March. Meanwhile, young singers from local schools will be part of an 800-strong choir converging on the world-class Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Monday 16 March for the Big Sing. Mentored by Ex Cathedra, the Big Sing brings together youngsters from all 14 regions in a professional-standard concert to sing songs from communities across the world, taken from the British Council's World Voice project. Four regional Spotlight gigs will give young artists and bands the opportunity to come together to perform live in well-known music venues, namely The Coal Vaults, Coventry; Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton; Malvern Cube and Redrum Stafford.

S4E Birmingham
Children from S4E Birmingham


Families are being invited along to free regional TRY and 'come and play' open events to take their musical learning further. They will be able to try an instrument, discover local ensembles and chat to Music Service staff to find out what opportunities are available locally. Meanwhile, a host of concerts, festivals and gigs from jazz ensembles to choirs, symphony orchestras to rock and pop, will be taking place throughout the month to give a flavour of the many ensembles and opportunities young people can get involved in. Last year, the 14 music services in the West Midlands impacted 140,000 children every week, supported music-making in 1,963 schools, loaned 79,789 musical instruments and created 776 events and performances across the West Midlands.

Coventry Music
Coventry Music will also be among those performing


Chris Jones, Chair of West Midlands Music and Head of Dudley Performing Arts, says, "Many thousands of people have learned an instrument, sung in a choir or played in an ensemble thanks to Music Services over the years. By working together as West Midlands Music, the region's 14 music services are able to maximise our collective impact, reaching more children and delivering a consistently high-quality music education for everyone. Big Month of Music is a fantastic first major celebration of that collective impact and of our commitment for the future of the region's music education." The work of West Midlands Music is supported by Music Education Hub funding distributed by Arts Council England. For further details on Big Month of Music and full list of events across the region, visit www.westmidlandsmusic.org.uk
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Why? More than 140,000 school children involved in huge music project
When: March 1 to 31
Where: Symphony Hall, Centenary Square, Birmingham B1 2EA
Cost: Cost of shows varies
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