Thousands of kids lose out as London music course goes bust

Thousands of kids lose out as London music course goes bust


norman lebrecht

June 15, 2020

Bird College School of Performing Arts has shut down the Bexley Music Hub, leaving thousands of children without tuition.

The hub was funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education. Its closure was announced without warning.


  • gareth says:

    I have fond memories of singing lessons/masterclasses at one of their premises, a former school, then known as “The Bexley Academy of Music”. This was long before it was subsumed into Bird College in 2007, so I’m glad it continued to provide musical education for more than two decades after I’d left, even as I’m saddened to hear of its closure.

  • Fact Checker says:

    Hi, I’d like to correct this. Bird College as a whole has not closed down, they have just dropped the music service. The Musical Theatre side of the establishment is remaining.

  • will says:

    Very bad news indeed.

  • Susan Keeling says:

    The rest of the email went on to say:
    “The pandemic has had a significant effect on the college as a whole and we are working continually to mitigate its impact. However it has had a disproportionate and catastrophic impact on music services, and it is this ‘final straw’, in terms of funding, which has led us to this situation… There was nothing anyone could do to lessen the impact’.

    I’m just a parent of two children who benefit from this music hub so I don’t have in-depth knowledge of the financial situation. However, it strikes me as not quite right that the pandemic be cited as the final straw when the teaching staff were furloughed (with the idea, surely, that businesses are saved and jobs not lost) and no activity (lessons, ensembles etc) taking place. I don’t know what happens to Arts Council music hub funding during this period of enforced inactivity but I don’t suppose they’re simply waiting for music hubs everywhere to go to the wall. What’s more, once schools etc do eventually reopen and return to something approaching normal, music lessons will re-commence. Pupils can’t wait to get back to their instrumental lessons. Moreover, the anticipation of the precious ensembles starting again, and being reunited with their musical friends, is what has been keeping many of the kids going during these difficult times.

    What’s particularly distressing in all of this is the ‘goodbye and thank you’ tone of the approach from Bird College. Had we, as a community, known of the impending dangers (if indeed the finances were already so precarious before Covid-19), we could have acted sooner. Who knows, maybe we could have raised enough funds to keep things going for a little bit longer until a new way of working could be found. To me it rather feels as if this was a good time to dump the burden of the music service.

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  • Julius Bannister says:

    A great shame. The College was founded in 1967 by Wagner expert Dr. Rudolph Sabor; he was a student of Furtwangler. The College was not about turning out professional musicians, although it has done this remarkably well but, rather, well-rounded members of society.