Front Row Music

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Front Row Music'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 Front Row Music 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

Dave Fidler, Director
Music education in primary
Dave Fidler is an accomplished British singer-songwriter,
who has toured the world as a professional musician.
When he’s not recording or touring, he runs Front Row
Music, a unique music education provider who are passionate
and enthusiastic about engaging children with music. The
director of their Essex branch has played with the likes of Sting
and Jonas Blue and their East London director, Howard Rose,
was a finalist on The Voice in 2015. Additionally, the Front Row
manager in North London is a film director, who has previously
worked on
Holby City
and Dave himself has
performed at Glastonbury more than half a dozen times.
They’ve experienced the excitement that music can bring first-
hand, and endeavour now to share that with young people all
over the country.
At Front Row Music, we’re passionate about providing fun and engaging music
lessons in primary schools. Specialising in guitar, ukulele and keyboard tuition,
we’re on a mission to teach and inspire a new generation how to play by learning
their favouritetunes.
I established Front Row Music in Manchester in 2011. Having become disinterested
in the experience that “traditional” music lessons provided, I decided to teach
myself guitar. I soon discovered that it wasn’t the instrument I found boring, but
the nature of the lessons themselves. I realised that they didn’t need to be like
»Director: Dave Fidler
»Established in 2011
»Based in Manchester with
franchises across the UK
»Services: Music lessons in
»No. of employees: 6 at our
Manchester HQ
»No. of franchises: 9
»No. of tutors: 100
»No. of schools: 150
»No. of students: Over 4,000
Front Row Music
Highlighting best practice
that – they could be fun. I decided to
offer a new kind of musiclessonto
schools in my local area, and the
response was overwhelming.
Since then, our business has grown,
and we have received the Big Venture
Challenge Award. We currently
teach over 4,000 children in over
150 schools across the UK, and have
recently launched our first international
franchise in Cape Town.
I am convinced that our success stems
from our ethos as a company. We
firmly believe that music changes lives,
and we want to share that passion
with a new generation who are at risk
of becoming disillusioned with run-of-
the-mill music lessons. At a time when
the arts are being underprioritised in
schools, we provide vital education
that’s both affordable and enjoyable.
A musical revolution
At Front Row, we talk a lot about a
musical revolution in primary schools.
Our aims are to:
»Offer fun, engaging and affordable
lessons to children in primary schools
»Make our service hassle-free for
school administrative teams
»Hire professional musicians who can
teach and inspire students
»Offer exciting opportunities for
children to perform and record
»Provide regular resources and
feedback for parents
»Continually develop our syllabus to
include current popular music, and
ensure progression
»Give back to the community in
the form of instrument provision,
concerts and sponsorship
Software innovation
As the business began to grow, I soon
realised that I would need reliable
software to manage the administration
involved with our work. I tried a few,
but in the end, decided to develop my
own software application: “Upscale”.
Upscalehas been instrumental
in growing and developing the
business. It’s a secure and efficient
way of automating our timetabling,
communication and payment tracking
alongside other administrative tasks.
It’s allowed us to reach even more
students by minimising the amount
of time we need to keep track
Alongside the development of
Upscale and our unique approach
to lessons, I believe our success
comes from continually looking
ahead and prioritising innovation.
We’re always keen to offer extra
opportunities to children who love
playing aninstrument. We’ve seen
our students perform at festivals, take
part in music therapy-style sessions in
care homes and evenperform on
. Recently, we made it possible
for our students to experience what
it’s like to be in a recording studio,
providing them a professionally edited
audio track and video of their session
to take home afterwards.
Why is music education so
Music is a powerful tool. It’s a hobby
for many, it can become a profession
Learning popular songs
on the ukulele
Children with
real potential
and ability are
giving up on
because they
find lessons
for some, it’s fun, it develops discipline
and social skills and has been shown
to be beneficial for our memory and
mental health.
Unfortunately, many children with
real potential and ability are giving
up on their instrument because they
find lessons boring or uninspiring.
Even worse, some just aren’t being
given the opportunity to learn how to
play an instrument whatsoever. We
want to turn this around and offer
our lessons in as many schools as
possible. One of our key objectives for
the future is to continue our success
in franchising Front Row Music both in
the UK and further afield.
The need for new music
The biggest challenge I can see us
facing in the future is an unwillingness
for schools to change their current
music provider. The reluctance
to deviate from traditional music
education suffocates innovation. In
keeping with this, we have developed
our own unique syllabus and lesson
structure that differs entirely from
traditional music lessons. We engage
with pupils at their level, teach music
they love and ensure that they’re
having fun doing it.
Our tutors are all professional
musicians, who – when they’re not
teaching in schools – are touring,
recording and playing live shows to
thousands of people. That’s the reason
behind our name – we take people
who live and breathe music, people
who are passionate about sharing their
skills, and put children on the “front
row”, allowing them to learn from
the best. I’d hate to think any children
might miss out on this opportunity
because schools are simply refusing to
question the status quo.
Giving something back
We want to give back to local
communities with music. We’ve
already provided sessions in care
homes and are keen to do more.
We’re very aware that some parents
and schools simply aren’t able to
afford music education due to lack
of funding, and we believe that every
child should have access to music;
there should never be a financial
barrier preventing them from learning
an instrument.
We want to see things change – and
while our lessons are reasonably
priced, we would love to be in a
position to provide lessons and
instruments free of charge to those
who can’t afford it.
This is, however, easier said than
done, so we’re looking at ways to
partner with schools and instrument
suppliers to work out how this could
look, and developing a fund which
would allow us to provide high-
quality, innovative music education for
every child – no matter who they are,
or where they come from.
The reluctance
to deviate from
traditional music
Making music fun

This article was sponsored by Front Row Music. 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy