Pop stars back schools music drive

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The Independent Online

Pop stars went back to school today to urge youngsters to pick up an instrument and become the chart toppers of the future.

They added their voices to the scheme launched by Schools Secretary Ed Balls at Twyford CE High School, in Acton, West London, today.

Mr Balls and musicians including VV Brown, Killa Kela and Jamie Cullum took over classrooms at the school in a 'lesson' being transmitted live to thousands of pupils across the country, as part of The Year of Music programme.

The event is also being supported by Lily Allen, guitarist Slash, N-Dubz, Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden and X Factor star Dannii Minogue, plus many more.

Violinist Vanessa Mae said learning an instrument can be extremely rewarding.

"It's incredibly simple if you're a kid, or even an adult, and you want to learn an instrument, you just pick it up, and try it.

"Music is a wonderful, wonderful profession to be involved in. It's basically a hobby that you can treat seriously," she said.

MOBO nominees N-Dubz added determination is the key: "If you do it yourself, and write it yourself, like we wrote a song today, in four months' time thousands of people are going to be listening to it and singing along to it. How about that?

"If you put your mind to it you can do anything you want. Look at me, look at him, we came from nothing. You can do it too. Put your mind to it, brother, sister."

Allen, who has enjoyed chart success with her albums Alright, Still and It's Not Me, It's You, credited social networking website MySpace for her fame.

She said: "I started working on my music when I was 15 years old and then obviously MySpace came about and I started putting my own music online.

"I didn't have many friends on MySpace at the time and then I started doing these mixtapes which were my songs mixed in with other people's songs.

"I got about 200 of them printed on CD and I was sending them out to people who wanted me to."

Mr Balls called on schools and local authorities to make a major effort to get more young people into music, so that by 2011 more than two million primary school pupils will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

He said: "I want to create a generation of talented performers who can sing, dance, play instruments and fly the flag for Great Britain.

"Music is at the very heart of British popular culture - it's what kids talk about, it's what they aspire to.

"It's fantastic that TV talent shows like X Factor attract millions of viewers each week, but young people need to know that they can only become stars by mastering the basics when they're young and by learning about a range of music - from classical to country. This is exactly why we need world class music education in schools."