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Novices to virtuosos in a year

Fifteen months ago 17 youngsters picked up violins and cellos for the first time. Now there are 95 students at two schools in the music programme and their skills have reached the point where they have been able to stage their first public performance.

The Orokohanga Music Trust programme teaches year four children from Camberley and Ebbett Park schools classical music while also building their confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

Orokohanga was set up by music teacher Ngaire Shand after she saw a television documentary on the value of using music to improve children’s social and mental well-being.

“The children come through the programme with a whole range of skills, social as well as musical, that will benefit our whole society,” says Mrs Shand.

The programme is supported by Hastings District Council and councillor Malcolm Dixon is an Orokohanga trustee. He said there were numerous examples across the world of children from deprived communities benefitting from such programmes.

“It gives them musical skills they might otherwise never have had an opportunity to learn but as well as that there are a great number of other benefits.

“They experience success which lifts their confidence; they work together to produce a finished piece of music which fosters co-operation; and the feeling of achievement they get they will never forget. That brings huge benefits for the children but also for society,” Mr Dixon said.

He said experiencing that kind of success raised children’s expectations of what they could achieve.

The trust supplies the music tutors and the instruments. That was no easy feat, with the trust constantly on the lookout for second-hand instruments they could refurbish and financial sponsorship to pay for the programme. “A number of trusts and Hastings District Council are strong supporters but we really do need a main sponsor or number of sponsors to ensure we can keep this going,” Mrs Shand said.

People with second-hand instruments they would like to donate, or who would like more information on sponsorship should email:

4 October 2017

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