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Page 3 Profile: Lord Lloyd-Webber, composer

Giving something back?

Lord Lloyd-Webber, thought to be worth a massive £620m, has launched a scheme that will give compulsory music lessons to pupils from schools in deprived areas in a bid to improve academic results and combat gang culture. His charitable foundation, in partnership with the Charles Wolfson Trust, will donate £2m over four years to establish the Music in Secondary Schools Trust, which will put violins and trumpets in the hands of thousands of underprivileged children.

A fool and his money…

Believe it or not, a pilot scheme at the Highbury Grove School in Islington has already seen a pupil accepted into Oxford University to study music. Now Lord Lloyd-Webber hopes the initiative could provide a blueprint for other schools around the country. The West End grandee – who has an “undying commitment” to the programme –  believes “this will snowball”. “It won’t just be me, other people will be excited,” he said. If it works he will support similar projects. The first institution on board will be the Lister School in Newham, starting in September. A further two schools will follow next year, reaching over 2,000 pupils.

I’m still not convinced

The Lord insisted: “It’s enormously significant because we’ve seen with other projects like El Sistema [a publicly funded music education programme in Venezuela] what has happened in other parts of the world. Frankly this country is behind in that. It’s time that music in schools is given far greater prominence in schools than it is at the moment.” Former Highbury Grove head Truda White said the programme she set up (in 2006, after seeing the positive effect that classical music had on students at the Kipp Academy in the Bronx) had been an unqualified success. She talked of a number of pupils who had run into trouble with the law and asked: “Could music be the answer to their troubled lives, because gang culture was coming ever closer at that time to our school?” Grades improved, as did attendance, and problems with gang violence receded.

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