07583 544110 enquiries@glasburyarts.co.uk



Harps in Schools – A short new film


The film will feature Catrin Finch, Head of Harps at the Royal Academy of Music and comedian Jo Brand. They will describe how Glasbury Arts, a small charity in Mid-Wales, set up an experimental project within Gwernyfed High School our local secondary school to provide FREE harp tuition to students with an emphasis on those whose parents cannot afford to pay. Also in the film are students and parents talking about what the project meant to them. To view the film, go to: glasburyarts.co.uk/film

Glasbury Arts is now asking for help to secure the Gwernyfed High School programme for a further three years, to expand the programme to two or three more primary school’s schools plus a special school for children with a variety of educational needs. In addition, Glasbury Arts wants to secure the future of its international harp summer school in which young people from the Harps in Schools programme, receive a free place. The combination of these two programmes provides a unique opportunity for young people to experience the pleasure and satisfaction of a playing a musical instrument something which is commonplace where parents can afford to pay.

Why is learning to play a musical instrument important?

When Glasbury Arts started out in 2015 to raise money to provide free harp tuition in local schools we undertook an extensive review of international research literature on the effects on young people when they learn to play an instrument. The findings in summary found that: in addition to developing musical skills, it also increases confidence, a sense of wellbeing, develops educational capabilities, intellectual ability, and fine motor control. All of this improves ability in school core subjects, so yes, it is important.

Given its so important, why is free music tuition not funded by the state in the same way as maths, science, English, languages, geography, history, the visual arts or sports?

Funding for State schools to provide free music tuition for young people ended in the   early nineties when the UK Government removed music from the core curriculum and with the funding, and most, not all, local authorities completely cut the funding. Today, whilst a few Local authorities provide some funding, most do not and if a state school wants to provide music tuition, in the main have to charge parents resulting in the majority of young people not even considering learning to play an instrument because their families cannot afford to pay.

When it comes to playing the harp, the national instrument of Wales, it has an effect on our culture and at the moment keeping this instrument alive is dependent on parents affording to pay upwards of £1500 a year plus the cost of a harp, which is financially beyond the means of the majority of parents.

It took Glasbury Arts five years to raise enough money to set up a free harp tuition scheme in Gwernyfed High School which began in February 2020 only to close five weeks later when the first pandemic lockdown occurred. It was eight months before all but one of the young people came back to tuition and in the meantime, having raised enough money to provide them all with small starter harps which turned out to be a game changer when a second lock down occurred six weeks later.

At the beginning of what was an experimental project we invited the Mid- Wales Music Trust to carry out an independent evaluation little knowing what was ahead of us. When their report was published in July 2021 it showed that despite the trials of the pandemic most of the group had developed a better sense of wellbeing and increased their confidence something that was not necessarily seen amongst young people during this period.

We want to start additional programmes in local primary schools with the aim long-term to enable children who want to start free tuition and assuming they continue onto secondary school at Gwernyfed High School, can go forward to GCSE and A-Level music focused on the harp. Catrin Finch, Principal Harp at the Royal Academy of Music in London and a patron of Glasbury Arts has described what we are doing as the ‘beginning of a music service’ in our part of Wales.

The Welsh Government has launched a National Schools Music Strategy with the aim of providing music tuition to all children in Wales and whilst we applaud their ambition and support the small number of local developments; to reach a stage whereby all children can have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument in school, because of a limited availability of funds, unless there is a change of gear, achieving that goal is a decade or more away.

Can you help?  Please have a look at the film “Harps in Schools” about our work made by award winning cinema photographer Richard Greatrex and his team. Anyone who would like to donate can do so by using the link that will be on screen or send a cheque made out to Glasbury Arts Ltd 5 Twin Oaks, Glasbury–on–Wye Powys HR3 5PE.

Thank you.

Glasbury Arts Trustees