27 March 2017
THEY say your true supporters come out of the woodwork when times are tough.
And that was certainly proven in the case of Stratford Music Centre.
Having been established and successful for four decades – opening-up music, dance and drama tuition to thousands – the curtain looked set to go down for good in 2016 when Stratford Music Centre found itself without a home.
But then came a huge wave of support from students, past students, parents and the wider community too, all calling for the centre to be saved.
And their pleas were heard.
Within weeks, Stratford-upon-Avon School came forward and offered the Music Centre the perfect home, where 174 students of all ages are currently taught and tutored with classes every week.
Established 44 years ago, Stratford Music Centre was originally run by Warwickshire County Council, separating from the local authority and going its own way in 2002.
Amid a highly competitive market of often very expensive music and theatre classes, it offers something quite unique.
For a start, age is no age barrier. Current students range from the 4-year-old learning piano to the 84-year-old also learning to play.
Secondly, there’s no commitment pressure. You can try your hand at the trumpet, or guitar, or at choir, musical theatre or rock school, and if you decide after a couple of lessons that it’s not for you, you can stop (perhaps having a go something else instead.)
Lastly, it really is affordable - and flexible too. Tell the music centre your budget and they will tell you what is possible, with the Town Trust’s funding also helping to fund tuition for families facing hardship.
“It’s very flexible and very varied – and that is so important,” Musical Director Steph Watson said.
“And we make sure we get to know our students and match them with the right tutor, so everybody gets the most out of it.”
Both Margaret and Steph have been working for Stratford Music Centre for many years.
Margaret became involved when her children were students – popping in to help with admin initially, and later taking a bigger and bigger role.
Steph was a student 44 years ago when Stratford Music Centre first began, learning the cello.
When she moved back to Stratford and her son enrolled, she was recognised and asked if she could help-out.
“And here I still am,” she says.
“Because the atmosphere is amazing; we have wonderful tutors, wonderful students and wonderful support.”