Music tutors have been hailed as heroes for coming to the rescue using online lessons during the pandemic.

The not-for-profit Wrexham and Denbighshire Music Co-operatives moved instrumental and vocal lessons online at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 and have maintained an extensive programme of online lessons ever since, building up to hundreds of lessons a week.

Online tuition will now continue to be offered even as Wales looks forward to the return of socially distanced in-school lessons.

Music Co-operative founder and head of service Heather Powell thanked all the tutors for stepping up to the challenges of maintaining music education over such a difficult period.

She said: “Online learning has been a huge success for us in 2021 with many new pupils engaging in digital lessons.

“At our peak we are delivering almost 800 lessons a week.

“We have delivered lessons across the region and worked hard at further developing our online resource – The tutors have been real heroes.

“They are naturally keen to get back to live lessons where possible, with the use of perspex screens and sticking to social distancing health and safety rules. We encourage as many schools as possible to take up the chance of restoring in-class music lessons through our service over coming months.

“But it’s important to note how much we’ve all learned through this online experience and the value of keeping the provision permanently in our armoury in future.”

Among the parents whose children have benefited from the lessons is Kathy Davies, of Coedpoeth.

The Leader: Wrexham Music Co-operative
James Booth 8 at his home in Coedpoeth has enjoyed the home learning music tuition at home while in lockdown

She said her son Ysgol Bryn Tabor pupil James Booth, aged eight, had his piano lessons online.

She said: “We bought him a keyboard for Christmas after he started piano lessons at school, but then the lockdown happened and we feared he would never get to fully enjoy it. That’s why we arranged online tuition. The keyboard has a piano option and James would set it up at the computer.

“He put his musical keyboard in front of the screen where the computer keyboard would normally go. Then he set the computer camera to face it so the tutor could see the keys. He also had a book with exercises to learn in preparation for lessons. It’s been a great way to boost his confidence ready for when he returns to live music lessons in school.”

Artistic Lead Wyn Pearson, who created online videos to promote the tutoring service said: “Pre-Coronavirus we had already thought about offering online options for students but the pandemic pushed this idea forward immeasurably. We knew teachers and performers could not do their jobs and pupils could not access lessons unless we adapted our service fast.

“We worked all out to provide the best possible online lessons and I think we can be proud of what we have achieved. It is hugely satisfying to know so many people have given us such heartfelt positive feedback.”

The co-operative use Microsoft TEAMS for its online delivery and lots of pupils have continued to sit online exams and take part in music competitions during lockdown.

Heather said: “My own children have continued piano, drum and saxophone lessons online. As a full-time working mum, I know firsthand that this has been hugely beneficial to their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

“Many of our free school meal learners have also engaged with online lessons, and we have also been busy working virtually with young carers and children with additional needs.”