A PROJECT aimed at increasing interest in people learning to play a musical instrument in Montgomeryshire includes a competition to involve the whole family.

The project is already providing free stringed instruments on loan and lessons for children who are now being encouraged to teach a simple piece of music to a parent, video it and post it on Facebook to try to receive a goody bag and be pictured in a future edition of the County Times.

The competition is set up by busy local violin teacher Sarah Barnwell via her own Facebook page to which entries should be made with the closing date now extended until the last day of this school term.

This is the next stage in the project organised by Montgomeryshire Youth Music (MYM), a charity promoting group music with ensembles for young people aged eight to 18 in a wide range of instruments.

With support from Powys County Council, MYM has found children responded overwhelmingly to Sarah’s offer of violin demonstrations and lessons in an effort to create new players.

Sarah was a professional touring violinist for many years. Her performing career included playing with rock, folk and jazz bands in several countries.

When she recently decided to teach full time locally, Sarah was shocked to discover that the schools have had little strings tuition for many years. In order to encourage children to play, she visited schools and played a range of music which the pupils were surprised to hear on the violin. This proved to be inspiring and hundreds of children signed up for a free trial lesson.

“It came as a shock to discover I would be attempting to deliver hundreds of free taster lessons! At the end of the process, I had around 70 new pupils, which was fantastic! Some of them have already gone on to take exams in classical violin with the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. Montgomeryshire Youth Music have been fantastically supportive,” said Sarah.

MYM are working hard to promote stringed instrument playing in schools with further projects planned this term.

New players will have the opportunity to experience the fun of playing in a group by joining String Team, members of which usually go on to play in the Youth Orchestra. Any child interested in learning an instrument should contact MYM at montgomeryshireym@gmail.com.