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Funding for training our future musicians

Children at three more schools in the region are being offered free music tuition, thanks to a new grant given to The Wairarapa Youth Orchestra.

Created in 2021, the youth orchestra facilitates accessible music tuition for Wairarapa students, including transport options and tutelage from retired and active industry professionals.

The grant – for over $35,000 from the Creative New Zealand General Arts Fund – is going towards tuition for the remaining school terms this year and has also helped launch a scholarship lesson programme.

Orchestra founder Caitlin Morris said she and the team behind the orchestra had worked really hard to get to this point.

“It’s taken a long time to get to the stage where we could apply.”

To apply for Creative NZ, Morris said they had to show a successful track record, with support from
local organisations.

“So many people have helped us and been incredible since we launched the programme,” Morris said.

“There’s about a one in four chance of getting the grant if you’re eligible. So we were very lucky.”

The new scholarship lesson programme now has a total of 22 students enrolled and receiving free lessons on a variety of woodwind, brass and string instruments.

During a recent roadshow, Morris and the team visited Carterton School, South End School and Featherston School, promoting the new scholarship lesson program made possible with the new funding.

Morris said they had been overwhelmed with the response.

“It’s shown us the real need for affordable, accessible music lessons in this region,” Morris said.

“These lessons are free, and they’re provided with an instrument for free. We really need these opportunities for kids.”

Envisioning later being able to extend the service Wairarapa-wide, Morris said they needed to make sure they had adequate resourcing in place to cater for higher demand.

“We decided for the scholarship program we would target primary schools, because there aren’t as many opportunities for those children,” Morris said.

“One of the biggest barriers are tuition fees.”

“We have amazing tutors, many of whom are local music teachers, very experienced musicians and industry professionals including some New Zealand Symphony Orchestra retirees and current players.”

Noting they were needing to repair a few instruments, and ongoing programme costs, Morris said they had also launched a givealittle page.

“We’re always trying to think of ways we can fundraise and apply for grants, that’s how we survive.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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