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Don't Stop The Music campaign calls for 'instrument amnesty' to help schools

Donate an instrument to schools and help children to learn music.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 September 2014 at 3.15pm | 28 Comments

Don't Stop The Music, a new campaign headed by pianist James Rhodes, aims to improve provision for teaching music in schools.

Inspired by the notion that every child should have the chance to play an instrument, the campaign coincides with James's two-part Channel 4 series of the same name. The first episode was filmed at St Teresa's primary school in Basildon. Following on from the series, ROH Bridge - one of ten national organizations that work to connect children and young people with art and culture - will be working with St Theresa's and other schools in the area to further their involvement with the arts.

'I want music to inspire brighten, and improve the lives of every child in this country, but today thousands of primary school kids aren't getting the opportunity to learn an instrument,' says James of why he believes the campaign is important. 'I've met music teachers who have as little as £2.20 to spend per child, per year. Others tell me they have a big fat zero. For some children, music lessons mean playing dustbin lids or biscuit tins. We're at risk of failing a generation.'

As well as asking for instrument donations, the campaign also features a petition, lobbying the government to deliver a good music education for every child, regardless of background or ability to pay, as well as the chance to learn an instrument.

Don't Stop The Music follows lobbying from arts organizations on the importance of creative subjects within the curriculum. Many arts organizations, including the Royal Opera House, work with schools and local communities to give them access to all-important cultural activities and learning.

Donate an instrument and back the campaign via the Don't Stop The Music website.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 September 2014 at 3.15pm

This article has been categorised Learning and tagged Bridge, campaign, Channel 4, curriculum, donate, Education, James Rhodes, Music, Oxfam, petition, ROH Bridge

This article has 28 comments

  1. Gary W Moss responded on 12 September 2014 at 6:48pm Reply

    I can remember my Music Master, Ian Bell, struggling hard to keep our attention because most of the lessons had to be oral or written, simply because we had very little instruments....Only the students who showed 'potential' were good enough to play the piano, or indeed even TOUCH the piano! I passed GCSE with a B grade, but I'm convinced my Master could have got me an A grade if I were allowed to play the piano...It seems like Music Classes are still the same: Instruments for the lucky ones....Pen and paper for the students who dont show, erm, 'Potential!'

  2. Peter Regan responded on 14 September 2014 at 3:28pm Reply

    Great idea. But 'amnesty' makes it sound like you've stolen an instrument and now want to give it back but avoid prosecution! Bit offputting.

  3. I think it's a great scheme. My school only had instruments for one thing: marching band, and you paid for your descant recorder. Music lessons were just singing and learning about the famous composers. Recently I heard how some children have instruments lying about the house - a discarded tuba, or a forgotten clarinet...paid for or subsidised by school, but unused because it was "no longer their interest", just taking up space in their home. A shame to hear about Gary's story that despite his good grade, he never got the opportunity to use a piano - so many unused pianos lying around church halls, college buildings, etc (yes, they are jangly and in need of tuning, but still usable for practising scales, chords, the basics of technique). This is a good scheme! It would be great to have a website/app where schools that need particular instruments could get in touch with potential donors to bring the instruments to the music teaching staff. A busy, crowded Oxfam shop isn't really the best place for storing a musical instrument, although it's good that they are offering to help.

  4. Carter Springall responded on 15 September 2014 at 7:18pm Reply

    My 11 year old son is trying to raise money via cake sales for a drum kit for his school, John Fisher in Purley. They have a couple of drum kits but they are very old and sound awful. Carter wants to get more kids involved in percussion as it is so cool and he is sure they would love drums as much as he does ld if they had a good kit. I was wondering if you could suggest the best place to get one for the best price as there are only so many cakes he can make!!!
    PS I think you are doing an amazing thing! Best of luck

    • Linda McCarthy responded on 26 May 2015 at 9:03am

      I have an electronic flats drum kit, good condition as not really used. I would prefer it to be given to those that need it rather than selling it. It would have to be collected and I
      am in Cheam, Sutton. Please let me know if
      this would be of use to you.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 26 May 2015 at 1:17pm

      Hi Linda,

      The campaign is being run in conjunction with Oxfam, so I'd recommend getting in contact with them via


      ROH Content Producer

  5. Manuela responded on 15 September 2014 at 7:40pm Reply

    I found it as a great idea.Music must be accessible to everybody. Could You imagine how many talents are 'hidden' somewhere because they cannot 'afford' music lessons? I think we would be surprised about that.

  6. Mrs Noble-Coles responded on 16 September 2014 at 9:25pm Reply

    Unbelievable that music lessons in some schools still do not exist! Why do people mot see that it is a multi skilled subject?
    I am the music coordinator at a primary school. Each class has a music lesson for 1hour per week where everyone learns how to perform a wide breadth and depth of musical genres on the keyboard. We have a 70 strong choir, 40 recorder players, 60 ukes, and school orchestra and we offer guitar, brass and woodwind lessons as well as a whole school singing assembly once a week. All because the head master understands the value of music. Good for us. Now realise how lucky we are.

  7. ceri smith responded on 20 September 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

    So, you just drop them off at the nearest oxfam? and the manager of the shop sends them to?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 23 September 2014 at 12:27pm

      Hi Ceri,

      Yes, if you drop in at your local Oxfam, they'll have further information.


      ROH Content Producer

  8. charlotte responded on 25 September 2014 at 11:17am Reply

    i think this is great, as my children go to a very good primary school but there are no music lessons unless you pay for them at school privately, but how does a child know they wnat to play an instrument if they have never seen/touched/tried one beofre. Do you knwo of any companys that will bring instruments to the school for the day for the kids to try as I am sure our parents association would pay for them ?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 25 September 2014 at 3:11pm

      Hi Charlotte

      Don't Stop The Music would probably be best-placed to answer this query as it's their campaign. You can find out how to contact them at


      ROH Content Producer

  9. jane ward responded on 25 September 2014 at 11:50am Reply

    hi we have a customer that has a piano free to a good home but will need collecting as she is an old lady and cant move the piano would you be interested kind regards jane

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 25 September 2014 at 3:09pm

      Hi Jane,

      If you speak to your local Oxfam, they'll be able to advise about this.


      ROH Content Producer

  10. Amy skaife responded on 8 October 2014 at 8:57pm Reply

    Have a sames piano going for free if wanted to collect it??
    Need re tuning

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 9 October 2014 at 12:12pm

      Hi Amy,

      Do contact your local Oxfam, who are partnering with James's campaign. They'll be able to help.


      ROH Content Producer

  11. Penny lythgoe responded on 16 October 2014 at 10:21pm Reply

    Fantastic. Come and see how Guernsey operates a wonderful music service all children have opportunity to learn an instrument - are tested for type of instrument from 7 years old. 800 children attend the music centre orchestras and bands each Saturday. It follows through into adulthood with orchestras, bands, choirs etc. not bad for population of 70,000.

  12. Brenda Doyle responded on 21 November 2014 at 2:53pm Reply

    Can you tell me where I go to track my instrument I donated ?

  13. J McMeeking responded on 18 January 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

    Donated an alto saxophone via Oxfam
    shop in Alnwick,Northumberland last
    year but have not received any news of
    what has become of it since.
    Would just like to know if the instrument
    has found a happy home !


  14. Olwen wilson responded on 14 May 2015 at 1:51pm Reply

    Hii I was a teacher for 40 years during which time I taught music.I loved it and believe it helped many children in many different ways.It makes me so sad and angry to think music is now being squeezed out of curriculum. So it is great to hear what you are doing to address this. Good luck !
    Olwen Wilson

  15. Maggie Parker responded on 1 September 2015 at 6:30pm Reply

    Oxfam stopped receiving instruments a long time ago - I have a Spanish guitar with solid case which I would love to donate but there doesn't seem to be a a way anymore - any suggestions? thanks

  16. James responded on 23 September 2015 at 5:34pm Reply

    I am trying to donate a piano and think kids should have a right to a piano. But there is no organisation facilitating it. Even my local council says "call around local schools yourself we are too busy". There is no one interested in actually taking in and parcelling out instruments.

  17. Barry Driver responded on 13 May 2016 at 3:35pm Reply

    Hello My Barry,

    I just noticed your instrument amnesty, I have a piano who needs some TLC and a new home.

    If is happy to collect for free

  18. Tricia Burnham responded on 9 July 2016 at 10:23am Reply

    With her permission, we donated our daughter's violin in 2014 and in October 2015 I emailed dontstopthemusic to ask what had happened to it as I had heard nothing more about it. I have still heard nothing and the website doesn't seem to have been updated for some time. Is this project still running? And, if not, what has happened to the instruments?

  19. Roy Skelly responded on 2 January 2017 at 10:13pm Reply

    I have a Regent Clarinet which I would like to donate to a School or Youth Orchestra. The instrument is untested but appears in good order. Will need collecting I live in Gerrards Cross, Bucks.

  20. Nicola Bailey-Wood responded on 24 July 2017 at 3:25pm Reply

    My daughter has just completed her grade 7, and is now working towards grade 8 on pedal harp. We are a family who do not have the means to purchase a pedal harp without financial assistance, having looked into it, financing a harp seems almost inpossible.
    Up until now Alys has benefitted from harps on loan from a number of different societies, and she currently plays an errard kindly loaned by a friend. As she now embarks on grade 8 she is applying to do an undergrad. degree in music,on pedal harp, in Bangor university.
    She desperately needs a 47 string pedal harp which is suitable for her current level of achievement, and to allow her to take her studies further. We do not have the funds to provide this.
    Would you be willing to publish this letter, or at least our information on your website, as a request for help from any one who may have such an instrument to loan.
    Alys has played for 3 years in Royal Welsh College conservatoire, and is a very active member of Dynamic Harps with Shelley Fairplay. She also attended the Claire Jones harp school in Cardigan.
    She plays for local school and county orchestras and is about to play for the national scout and guide symphony orchestra. She is a talented young lady, who deserves a chance to continue her studies with a suitable instrument, Thank you for any support you can offer, Kind regards, Nicola Bailey-Wood

    Sent from my HTC

  21. Julie Wilson responded on 22 January 2018 at 5:23pm Reply

    I have a Wurlitzer upright piano to donate. It is in imaculate condition and was originally purchased in about 1970.

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