Sand band backs Princes Charles’ ‘more music in schools’ drive
GUITARS On The Beach (GOTB), the record-breaking event which draws hundreds of guitarists to play together on the sand in Lyme Regis, has launched a drive for more music to be taught in schools.
Following a ‘music matters’ call by the Prince of Wales, organisers of the popular annual seaside play-along are leading a local push for more young people to be taught to play the guitar.
And thanks to the generous donation of 11 guitars by Guildford-based Anderton’s Music Company, one of the main sponsors of this year’s event, now a new generation of guitarists will be able to join the giant band on the sand next June.
GOTB organisers were inspired to act after Prince Charles spoke out against the lack of music education in schools.
The Prince of Wales said: “I am one of those people who believes in the importance of arts and music education in schools. People forget or may not realise what an enormous contribution the creative arts makes to the whole economy. It’s immense. So we certainly shoot ourselves in the feet if we ignore it altogether.”
Now GOTB organisers have provided nine instruments to Lyme’s Woodroffe School in the aim of starting up a guitar class there.
The guitars were received by head of music Jon Cullimore, who was told that if students learn to play well, then GOTB will give them a slot onstage at next year’s event.
GOTB chairman Brian Street said: “Like Prince Charles we’re keen for more youngsters to learn to play music and now, thanks to this kind donation from our sponsor, we can help make that happen.”
Mr Street, a former Woodroffe School pupil, added: “We especially hope that students who have never played guitar before will be inspired to become good enough for us to add them to the line-up of the bands playing at next year’s Guitars On The Beach.”
GOTB has also given a guitar to one of its biggest supporters, 15-year-old Joshua Denning, who has collected donations for the free event every year since it began in 2013.
“Josh is a local lad who is very proud to be part of GOTB. For years he has raised money for us by walking around all day collecting donations,” said Mr Street.
“Whether it rains or shines on Guitars On The Beach, Josh is always there with his collection bucket and over the years he has personally raised hundreds of pounds for us. He also does the same for other events in the town including the carnival and Lifeboat Week.
“We think he’s brilliant and it’s because of the work of great people like Josh that our show can go on.”
The final beneficiary of the guitar give-away is blind guitarist Nick Dixon from Colyton, who received a guitar worth at least £1,000, also donated by Anderton’s and presented by GOTB organiser Niall Squire, leader of the Funkin’ Skunks band who performed at last week’s event.
Mr Street explained: “Anderton’s kindly gave us a prototype Chapman guitar which they said they wanted to go to a worthy cause, and we can’t think of anyone more deserving than Nick.
“His mum phoned me three years ago and asked if I could teach him to play guitar. But after the first lesson I realised this wasn’t going to be straightforward, as he couldn’t see the fret wires it was very difficult to tell him where to put his fingers.
“If you look at a guitar neck you can see there are dots or inlays to indicate frets 3,5,7,9,12. As Nick couldn’t see these, I asked him if I could file notches in his guitar’s neck at these position and this modification allowed him to find his positioning.
“I then was able to teach him some simple chords and then some simple songs. He obviously practises and works hard and now he’s picking things up pretty quickly and enjoys playing a good selection of songs including Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’.
“Nick comes to Guitars On The Beach every year and as he often jokes about how I ruined his old guitar, we thought he deserves this new one.”