Birmingham Conservatoire reaches out to children in South Africa

Samson Diamond, Arco ambassador and professional musician

A new crowdfunding campaign to teach under-privileged children in South Africa via video conferencing has been launched by Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University.

Named after the technique of playing a stringed instrument with the bow, Arco is a new international collaborative music project between Birmingham Conservatoire’s String Department and the Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music in Soweto, South Africa.

Birmingham Conservatoire Head of Strings Louise Lansdown said: “Arco is a project of sharing, learning, building and inspiring and one that will be a privilege to be a part of. The impossible is now possible due to the incredible development of technology and we are able forge worlds together around the common denominator of music.

“Initially running for a year, the worlds of Birmingham Conservatoire and the Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music will be inextricably linked via video conferencing and live streaming. This is a true collaborative project and we mean to change the face of music education on our journey - so watch this space!"

The Arco project aims to provide the benefits and life changing inspiration of music to children in the most deprived circumstances. Through music, Birmingham Conservatoire musicians will act as role models for vulnerable youngsters living in poverty and crime stricken areas.

"To bring extra knowledge to our students using technology is a fantastic opportunity to widen the way we educate the next generation of musicians," says Chris Bishop, Director of the Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music. "We hope the Arco project with Birmingham Conservatoire will be the beginning of a long-term, progressive and exciting partnership that will not just bring the world's experts to Soweto, but also bring Soweto's learners to the world."

To take this project to its full potential, Arco needs 150 people to pledge £30 each in the next 30 days to fulfill their goal. This will enable Arco to fund the purchase of instruments, live streaming equipment and the delivery of a music festival at Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music.

Over the coming year, twenty-four students from MIAGI will take part in weekly instrument lessons, via video conferencing, from students and recent graduates of Birmingham Conservatoire. Participants in Birmingham will also gain invaluable experience in teaching, coaching and video skills to help them gain valuable skills for future careers in music. 

"Being a part of Arco is a new and exciting challenge and a journey for me, which I never thought my musical studies would take me on," says Birmingham Conservatoire student Alistair Rutherford. "I cannot wait to get started and give all my ideas and energy to the project."

In addition to individual lessons, the masterclasses, workshops and performances taking place at Birmingham Conservatoire will be streamed live for the students at MIAGI and wider community to enjoy. The project then concludes with a music festival held at the Cape Gate Centre for Music in 2016.

More about Arco

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