Ceredigion is a small Welsh county in mid west Wales stretching from just North of Aberystwyth to Cardigan in the south. Its easterly border is the Cambrian Mountains and its westerly border the sea. Its population is very small, about 60,000 with a school population of about 10,000. We have six comprehensive schools and many small feeder primary schools (many with only two teachers).

We have four full time violin teachers, one part time and one full time cello teacher.

In 2000 we applied for special funding from the Welsh Assembly to run a special String Initiative based on Colourstrings. This fund was called “The Music development fund for Wales”, something similar to the Standards fund you now have in England. Unfortunately this funding has now disappeared but we are still managing to deliver our Colourstrings initiative to our pupils as follows but not in as many schools as we did initially.

Our String Initiative is aimed at children in year 2 (possibly year 1 and 2 in smaller schools to make up a viable group size). Everything is provided free for one year (instruments, books and tuition) and then the schools are asked to support these children through their normal SLA agreement with the Music Service. Each school has a budget for music which they normally supplement by making a small charge to the children so they can buy adequate time for the visiting peripatetic teacher.

In the first year we take groups of up to twelve children in the larger primary schools. They have two lessons per week, one a group lesson of 45mins when much of the Kindergarten work will take place teaching solfa etc (when we had funding this session was team taught by 2 teachers). A second visit of 1 hour and 30 minutes will then be divided between the children as the teacher wishes and in this lesson the violin will be taught in smaller groups. In smaller country schools we take a maximum of six per group and they receive two 45 minute sessions per week.

All the violin teachers are trained Colourstrings teachers and most use it with beginners in schools not receiving the String Initiative.

We also run after school Beginner and Junior orchestras in the north, mid and south of the county. The Beginner ensembles are catering for children who have been learning for one year.

Our String Initiative is now in its ninth year. It was started to reverse the decline of children taking up string instruments and I am happy to say that we now have healthy numbers of violins in our Intermediate and Senior orchestra and our Colourstrings pupils are now feeding through to orchestras at Three Counties and National level (at present I have 4 pupils in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain).

More information can be obtained from Isobelle McGuinness, Assistant Music Service Manager at: . Anyone wishing to come and observe is welcome.


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