A leading music expert in Huddersfield has voiced fears over the town’s musical heritage.

Simon Jacobs, head of music at Greenhead College, is worried that future generations will not be able to uphold the magnificent musical traditions.

He and the college principal, Anton McGrath, expressed deep concerns as Kirklees Council debates whether to slash funding to the Kirklees Music School centres around the district.

And Mr Jacobs summed it up when he said: “The implications for the future are simple. If we stop getting young people involved in music, in years to come, the music stops.”

Kirklees faces having to make millions of pounds in cuts to its budget and is looking at axing the £300,000 it currently gives the music school.

More than 7,000 students – both schoolchildren and adults – take lessons from 60 teachers.

Based in Huddersfield, the music school has centres at Netherhall Learning Campus in Huddersfield; Holmfirth High School; Colne Valley High School; Mirfield Free Grammar School; Shelley College; Whitcliffe Mount College, Cleckheaton; and Batley Salvation Army HQ.

Spring Concert presented by Greenhead College students in partnership with the Kirklees Music School.
Spring Concert presented by Greenhead College students in partnership with the Kirklees Music School.
 

Mr Jacobs said: “At Greenhead we have a large cohort of students studying music and music technology at A-level.

“This is, in part, due to the hard work that goes on in the seven music centres across Kirklees. These centres are essential for getting younger students enthusiastic and involved in making music.

“Learning to play and particularly how to play within an ensemble are essential in generating enthusiasm when starting to play an instrument.

“If some of these centres are axed I am extremely concerned about the numbers of students who will be getting enthusiastic about music at a young age across Kirklees.

“This in turn, of course, could affect our numbers studying music in years to come.

“Performance and performing within an ensemble are essential skills for young musicians studying at GCSE and at A-level.

“The work of these centres is a fantastic supplement to schools and colleges across Kirklees in helping our students to achieve the very best results in their music examinations.

“Many of our students studying music at A-level decide to pursue music at university or conservatoire level. Last year we had students leaving Greenhead to study at The Guildhall School of Music, The Royal College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire and The Royal Northern College of Music.

“All of these students had been involved with one of the Kirklees music centres at some point during their musical development. That statistic itself should give you a good understanding of the calibre of students being produced under the present system.

“Huddersfield and its surrounding area has a large and significant musical heritage. There is so much music making in these valleys! The implications for the future are simple. If we stop getting young people involved in music, in years to come, the music stops.”

Anton McGrath, principal of Greenhead College
Anton McGrath, principal of Greenhead College

Mr McGrath and Mr Jacobs have sent a letter to Kirklees about their concerns.

Mr McGrath added: “We have worked in other parts of the country where the music centres have not been of the standard of Kirklees (due to funding cuts) and can assure you this has a direct correlation with how successful the students are in schools and colleges.

“With the proposed funding cuts we worry that our young people will lose out on the some of the fantastic opportunities currently afforded to them.

“We also worry for the long term impact this will have upon the musical community in West Yorkshire.”