Centre for Young Musicians

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Centre for Young Musicians's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Centre for Young Musicians is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Geoffrey Harniess, Head of CYM
Accessible and progressive excellence in music
education for London’s schoolchildren
The Centre for Young Musicians, based at Morley College in
Lambeth, has provided access to high-quality progressive
music training to thousands of talented children in London
and beyond for over 50 years. Geoff Harniess, the head of the
centre, tells the
that many of those children have gone
on to enjoy successful careers in music and the performing
arts; CYM alumni include jazz musician Django Bates, global
DJ Jax Jones, Britain’s Got Talent winner Tokio Myers, JB Gill
of JLS, composer Jonathan Dove, Music Director and principal
conductor of the London Chamber Orchestra Christopher
Warren-Green and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s principal cellist,
Tim Walden.
Everyone who visits CYM on a Saturday is immediately struck by the energy and
sense of community that pervades the centre. Every week, more than 400 young
musicians between the ages of five and 18 take part in a diverse range of music
programmes that cover genres and topics including classical, jazz, composition,
music technology, gamelan, song writing, folk and musical theatre.
Excellence and access
Since 2009, we have been a division of the Guildhall School, and a Centre for
Advanced Training within the government’s Music and Dance Scheme – or
MDS – since 2007. Our students are from a vast range of socioeconomic and
ethnic backgrounds and, because we are committed to a guiding principle of
»Head of CYM: GeoffreyHarniess
»Established in 1970 as part
of Inner London Education
»Based at Morley College,
»Services: Instrumental and
vocal training
»No. of students: 400 weekly,
and over 200 holiday course
»A division of the Guildhall
»A Centre for Advanced
Training within the
government’s Music and
Dance Scheme
Centre for Young
“excellenceand access”, over 50 per
cent of families receive some financial
support for their child to attend CYM.
Much of the money for bursaries is
raised by our affiliated charity, the
Foundation for Young Musicians.
Other awards come through the MDS
and the Guildhall School’s widening
participation scheme, with vital
funding for projects and endeavours
such as instrument purchase and repair
coming as a result of the fantastic
work and support of the parents’
group, the Friends ofCYM.
A diverse musical offering
Performance really is at the heart of
our work, and we have over 90 group
activities taking place each week.
In recent years, this has led to CYM
students performing with English
National Opera, the New Vic Theatre and
the National Theatre, and with artists
such as Rod Stewart, Rufus Wainright,
Aled Jones, Saint Etienne, Josh Groban
and many more. Every Saturday, we also
hold lunchtime concerts that feature
both students and visiting artists.
In addition to the Saturday Centre,
we also manage the London Schools
Symphony Orchestra, the London Youth
Wind Band and the London Schools
Chamber Orchestra. These ensembles
meet during the school holidays and are
attended by many non-CYM students as
well as those from our Saturday Centre.
The LSSO is one of the country’s
foremost youth orchestras and performs
three concerts in the Barbican Hall each
year, featuring internationally renowned
conductors and soloists. Both the LSSO
and the LYWB also undertake foreign
tours each summer – a fantastic musical
and social experience for over 150
children that are involved. Destinations
have included Japan and Argentina
alongside numerous European countries.
All of this activity is co-ordinated by a
small management and administrative
team during the week; each Saturday,
however, our team expands massively
to accommodate more than 90
members of teaching and pastoral staff.
CYM students benefit from tuition and
advice from some of London’s most
successful and experienced professional
musicians, a number of whom are
former CYM students themselves.
Opening new avenues
The benefits of studying music are well
researched. It can lead to improvement
in language and reasoning,
mathematical ability, memory, co-
ordination, self-confidence and
self-worth, emotional development,
cultural awareness, creative thinking
and team work – all qualities of great
value in everyone’s life and any career.
In order for any child from any
background to become a truly skilled
musician, there has to be a clear
and affordable progression route for
them to follow. We are the only pan-
London organisation that provides
such opportunities based on musical
potential at the point of entry, whether
that be at the age of seven or 17.
Our intake includes those who wish
to make music their career alongside
those who will comprise future
audiences and become members of
amateur groups.
We have had particular success
supporting children who decide that
they wish to pursue their musical
The LSSO performs
three times a year at the
Barbican Hall, working
with internationally
renowned conductors
and soloists
Everyone who
visits CYM on
a Saturday is
struck by the
energy and
sense of
that pervades
the centre
Highlighting best practice
There is no way my parents could have provided by
their own means the thorough and inspiring music
education I received at CYM. Luckily they had the
foresight to send me to an inner London school,
making me eligible for the programme. This excellent
training built a very strong foundation for my life in
music, and my attitude to teaching, practising and
performing is all informed by my early years at CYM,
for which I am eternally grateful.” – Django Bates
CYM is one of the only places to offer such diversity
in music and give young people the opportunity to
try everything from classical to jazz.”
– JB Gill, JLS
studies further in their later school
years. Many of these students do
not actually come to the centre until
years 12 or 13; conversely, to broaden
our reach to include all school age
children, we introduced our Primary
Years Programme in 2016.
At the behest of Professor Barry Ife,
former principal of the Guildhall
School, and in response to the National
Music Plan, we have been established
in Norwich, Taunton, Saffron Walden
and Peterborough. These centres, based
on the London model, continue to grow.
Rarer than ever
Our mission is to provide opportunities
for children from all backgrounds to
enrich their lives through music – either
professionally or otherwise. Partnerships
with Southbank Centre and the English
Folk Dance and Song Society help us to
achieve this aim time and time again.
As a division of the Guildhall School,
we are working ever more closely with
Barbican Creative Learning and Junior
Guildhall. This includes being part of
an exciting new partnership with the
National Open Youth Orchestra.
Providing these opportunities,
however, is not always as easy as it
might sound. With more and more
emphasis being placed on STEM
subjects, alongside the adoption of
the English baccalaureate across the
country, progressive music provision in
state schools is under increasing threat.
We are already seeing the percentage of
students educated in the independent
sector attending leading music
conservatoires become worryingly high,
which is only additional ammunition for
those who declare classical music to be
inaccessible and elitist.
Since the introduction of whole-class
tuition, and later the National Music
Plan, most primary school children in the
state sector have been given access to
some instrumental experience. One-to-
one lessons are essential for progress to
high levels, however, and they are, of
course, far more expensive. Much as the
government funding given to music hubs
is appreciated, it cannot alone sustain
the excellence that is recognised in the
UK music industry in the long term.
Celebrating milestones
We and the Guildhall School will
continue to advocate for substantial
financial support for London’s less
well-off children to achieve their
dreams and aspirations, no matter
what musical sphere they may be a
part of. Our CYM@50 celebrations in
2020, followed by the LSSO@70 the
following year, will provide a real point
of focus for that advocacy.
In order for any
child from any
background to
become a truly
skilled musician,
there has to be
a clear and
route for them
to follow
Children can reach their
musical aspirations,
whatever their chosen
route may be


This article was sponsored by Centre for Young Musicians. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister