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HistoryHistory of the
County Music Service

Bedfordshire Music (previously known as the Bedfordshire Music Service) began in 1967 when the then Music Adviser, Roy Rimmer, acting on the work of his predecessor, Fred Stevens, formed a Youth Orchestra and Concert band, and was able to appoint three peripatetic teachers to work in schools. At that time, the majority of the Orchestra and Band came from outside the provision of the Music Service.

Over the following years, staffing grew and pupils started to emerge from the LEA schools. When Michael Rose took over the Service in 1972, he inherited a staff of about 20 and a fairly healthy Orchestra and Band.

The 1970's were years of comparative expansion and wealth with staffing levels steadily growing. Luton became part of Bedfordshire in the last but one re-organisation of local government which produced a new set of opportunities and challenges. We welcome the close co-operation that has come at this level of activity with Luton and Milton Keynes following the most recent re-organisation.

During the last twenty years, the Service has steadily grown to produce the breadth and depth of talent and provision that is now apparent. Much of that development was consolidated in the 1990s when Ian Smith became the Head of the Music Service.

The actual teaching of children has changed much over the years. Individual lessons were the norm in the early days, even for beginners, and the starting age was around 11 years or older. Change has been gradual and in the right direction; string players now normally begin at the age of 7, and wind and brass players at 9 years of age.

After years of decline in Music Services nationally, Bedfordshire has managed to maintain its tradition of excellence and opportunity, symbolized by the County Youth Orchestra winning a prestigious Sainsbury's Award which culminated in the recording of the Concert at The Royal Albert Hall on 11 April 1999 by Classic FM.

There are still uncertainties about the future despite the fact the Government has raised Music Services to the top of its own political agenda.

In April 2003 the new partnership of 'Bedfordshire Music' was launched between Bedfordshire County Council and Bedfordshire Music Trust. Their vision is to help people at all stages of life to participate in and enjoy music, reaching their full potential in developing musical skills. Bedfordshire Music will work with schools and the community to deliver and support music education in its widest sense.