'Major blow' as summer music lessons cut by college

Hundreds of children will miss out on music lessons due to cuts proposed by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The cuts will affect 340 students, five salaried staff and 122 others that dedicate their time to teaching on the weekends.

One parent described the plans as a "major blow to Wales" and said the cuts would stop a generation of children being inspired.

The Royal Welsh College, in Cardiff, says it is still “fully committed” to providing opportunities in music and theatre for young people, despite getting no funding for their youth services from Welsh government.

Dr Jun Zhang
Dr Jun Zhang, who has a daughter that attends the college, hopes they will reconsider the proposals [BBC]

One parent said young children who loved learning instruments with their friends at the college were "heartbroken" about the news.

Dr Jun Zhang, who has a six-year-old daughter that attends the classes, said she was in "disbelief" about the news and hoped they would reconsider the proposals.

"I think our children's future and their development through the nurturing of the college is invaluable - I don't think money can compare, you can't buy it.

"Many children and families will be affected by this."

She said the effect was "huge" as many families could not afford private tuition, a quality instrument, or did not have access to instruments due to home schooling.

"These children have been there for many years, had the same teacher, and have progressed in this environment, and they have enjoyed the world class facilities, but all of that is going to be taken away in September.

"How do we tell our children? Many parents have not broken this news yet, the children who have received the news are heartbroken about it."

Sayan, whose daughter Rini attends the college every week, said the cuts would stop a generation of children being inspired and were a "major blow to Wales".

She said pupils at her daughter's school did not have access to a lot of instruments and the college allowed Rini to try out different ones.

"When she's at the college she is seeing other people playing instruments, she's seeing different kinds of instruments, and at that age she's inspired, and that's what you want from an institution."

The college said it recognised the concern the announcement would cause for staff, students and parents.

It said it was "very conscious" of the need to make some difficult decisions, to ensure that it is "ready to meet the challenges of the coming years".

"We recognise that we have a responsibility to offer vibrant experiences into professional training that reach young people from diverse backgrounds.

"Not just from the Cardiff area but throughout Wales, and to embrace the Welsh language.£

The Welsh government said it “fully recognises” the financial pressure higher education institutions in Wales are under.

“We also recognise the value and importance of music education.

"Our £13m National Music Service gives every three to 16-year-old the opportunity to play a musical instrument, sing, and make music.

“The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama remains a key partner in the delivery of the National Plan for Music Education, in particular providing learners with opportunities to progress in playing a musical instrument or singing."