Open letter: Create a route back to musical participation

We share the significant concern that an extended ban on amateur music making is being considered, and have put our name to this open letter, along with Fulham Symphony Orchestra and 190 others, sent to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP today

Dear Mr Dowden,

Create a route back to making music again

We are alarmed at reports, including in The Times, that an extended ban on amateur music making is being considered by you and the Cultural Renewal Taskforce. Writing in The Times, Richard Morrison is right to highlight the great anxiety felt by millions of participants in amateur music making in the UK at the prospect of an extended ban on musical activities as a result of a failure to invest in scientific research into their risks and to provide workable guidance. Such research and guidance would benefit all musicians, and there are promising European research projects we can build on.

Amateur and youth musicians derive enormous benefits from singing in choirs, playing in orchestras, bands and other ensembles. The sheer pleasure of participation in music is a significant source of wellbeing and, in an increasingly atomised world, a driver of community cohesion. The music industry is currently being significantly supported by amateur and youth musicians – it is they who are employing freelance professional music teachers, buying instruments, purchasing sheet music, donating to livestreams, donating concert ticket refunds – while other professional fees have disappeared. These groups usually receive no external funding. In normal times amateur and youth groups employ many professional musicians, rent and purchase performance materials, and hire concert halls and other venues. All their professional suppliers will struggle without a return to normality for these groups as soon as possible.

A route back to broad musical participation is urgently required.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Alexander OBE; Chief Executive & Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain • Matthew Altham; Musical Director, Pegasus Choir • Beti Lyn Alwyn-Jones • Diana Ambache; Director Ambache Chamber Orchestra • Keiron Anderson; Musical Director Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra Phoenix Concert Band • Hazel Anderson • Michael Armstrong • Irene Auerbach • Philip Austin; Librarian, London Phoenix Orchestra, The Rehearsal Orchestra and Philharmonia Britannica • Martin Baglow; Chairman, The British Association of Barbershop Singers • Caroline Balding • Sally Beamish; composer • Quintin Beer; Freelance Choral Conductor • Lucy Bell • Dr David Blazey; Independent Consultant • Gill Blazey; school music teacher • Steve Block; Former Music Advisor, London Borough of Enfield Founder, West London Sinfonia • Laura Bookbinder LLCM ALCM; freelance and peripatetic teacher of woodwind • Stephen Bradley; Musical Director – Luton Concert Band, Conductor – Luton Concert Orchestra • Laura Bradshaw; Trustee of the Natural Voice Network (NVN) • Cathy Phillips Brady; Freelance Creative Producer • Jack Bridger; Musical Director, Porthcawl Community Orchestra • Peter Britton • J M Britton • Viv Brown; 1st Violin, Solihull Symphony Orchestra • Alice Brunton; Treasurer North East Early Music Forum and committee member Northern Praeclassica choir • Nancy Buchanan; Haydn Chamber Orchestra • Jean Buck; Member of Nonesuch orchestra and The London Chorus  • David Burgess; Director, Apollo Fundraising • Tim Burnage; Music Teacher, Huntington School • Ian Burrell; Hon Treasurer, Hereford Musical Theatre Company, Adult Volunteer Singer, Academia Musica Choir, Worship Leader, Hereford Baptist Church • Amanda Butler; Manager, London City Orchestra • Gary Carpenter; Professor of composition RNCM & RAM, Ivors Academy director  • Phil Castang; Director of Creative Learning and Engagement, Bristol Music Trust • Elizabeth Cave • Nicola Chessum • Neil Chippington; Chair, Choir Schools’ Association • Sam Coates; Director of Music – Graveney Trust • Dr K Coope; Committee member, and past Chair, Huntingdonshire Philharmonic • Emma Cordell; Chair, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra • Tim Costen; Treasurer, Bloomsbury Chamber Orchestra • Nic Cottham; Trustee, Take Note Concert Band Essex • Helen Creedy; Exeter Symphony Orchestra Membership Secretary • Elizabeth Crew; player and Chair of Nailsea Concert Orchestra • Kenneth Crookston; CEO, Brass Bands England • Eric Cross; Emeritus Professor of Music & Culture, Newcastle University • Noa Davies • Lisa Devlin; Clarinettist, life-long community musician, secretary of All Saints Concert Band • Marc Dooley; Music Director, Fulham Symphony Orchestra • Jonathan Dove CBE; Composer • Steve Dummer; conductor Horsham Symphony Orchestra • Liz Dunbar; Director of Music Huntington Secondary School, York • Leslie East OBE; Chair, Association of British Choral Directors • Barbara Eifler; CEO, Making Music • David Evans; Chair, Solihull Symphony Orchestra • Anne Fairbank; Assistant manager HARROWMUSICSERVICE • Sue Fletcher DipABRSM; Director of Blooming Flutes Flute Choir • John Forte; Chair Torbay Symphony Orchestra • Tom Fowkes; Musical Director, The New Tottenham Singers • Marion Friend MBE; Chair Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra • John Gibbons, BEM; Music Director of Ealing Symphony Orchestra, Northampton Symphony Orchestra, St Albans Chamber Choir, Clifton Cathedral Choir • Alan Grant; Chairman, Insurance Orchestral Society • Dr James Greener; Chair of Nonesuch Orchestra, and Manager of Ealing Symphony Orchestra • Louise Greene • Sally Groves • Jayne Guest; Jayne Guest Music • Tom Hammond; Co-Artistic Director, Hertfordshire Festival of Music • Paul Hannon; Bass Clarinet, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra • Patrick Harrex; Musical Director, Brighton & Hove Arts Orchestra • Helen Harrison; Music Director Blackpool Symphony Orchestra, Preston Opera, Lytham St.Anne’s Choral Society • Richard Heason; Director – St John’s Smith Square • Philip Hesketh; Music Director West London Sinfonia  • Jane Higgins; retired conductor Southampton Youth Orchestra  • David Hill; Musical Director of The Bach Choir • Barbara Höfling; German Choir of London • Chris Hopkins; Music Director of the Orchestra of the City • Sarah Hull • Fenella Humphreys; violinist • Martyn Humphreys • Andy Jackson; Director The Cobweb Orchestra • Matthew Jelf; Director of Music, Chichester Cathedral Choir School & Artistic Director of Brighton16 Chamber Choir  • Rosemary Jiggens; string ensemble coach, Highgate Strings Club • Robert Johnstone; Music Director Colne Endeavour Band • Outi Jokiharju; Development Officer, Rehearsal Orchestra • Tim Jones; organiser, Farnborough Winds • Carys Jones; Nonesuch Orchestra, committee member • Lindsay Joyce-Blank; Secretary, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra • Dave Joyce; Musical Director Sheffield Youth Big Band, Trombonist Keith Peter’s Big Band • Vivien Karam; Chair, West London Sinfonia • Russell Keable; Music Director, Kensington Symphony Orchestra • Vicky Keane; City of Derby Youth Orchestra • Simon Lee • Alex King; Chair, Salomon Orchestra • David King; Treasurer, Thames Valley Early Music Forum • Sharen Kingham • Sarah Kuzan • Dr David Lancaster; Director of Music, York St John University • Jerry Lanning; conductor and arranger • Lucy Le Fanu; Patron, W11 Opera for Young People • Nicola LeFanu; composer • Louise Lingard-Snape • Claire Loftus; Chair of Sale Chamber Orchestra and City of Manchester Opera • Graham Longfils; Leader 3 Worcestershire Orchestras • Philip Mackenzie; Director of the Mozart Symphony Orchestra • Ross Macrae; Trustee of the London Gay Symphonic Winds  • Quentin Maxwell-Jackson; Chairman, Easter Orchestral Society • Lesley Mcalpine; amateur clarinet player • Nicola McDonnell • Bridget Merchant; Chair, Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra  • Gabi Mills; Dartmouth Orchestra publicity manager • Ian Mitchell; clarinettist and Director Gemini • Alice Monk; General Manager, Music Industries Association and Music for All Charity • Alex Murchie; Secretary to the Trustees, Opera Sunderland • Freddy Naftel; composer, teacher and percussionist • Thomas Neal; Director of Music, New College School, Oxford • Tom Newall; Musical Director Salford Choral Society • Anne-Marie Norman; Administrator, Rehearsal Orchestra • Dominic Nudd; Trustee Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra • Eamonn O’Dwyer • Margaret Oliver; Chair of Trustees: British Kodály Academy • Mike Oswald • Emma Palmer • Roxanna Panufnik; Composer • Lev Parikian; Artistic Director, The Rehearsal Orchestra • Ben Parry; Artistic Director, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain • Helen Paskins  • Andrew Passmore • Rosy Payne • Adam Payn • Heidi Pegler; Association of Teachers of Singing • Mark Pemberton; Director, Association of British Orchestras • Lis Peskett; Freelance musician and teacher • Nancy Philbin; Chair, Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers • Nick Pitt; Secretary Fulham Symphony Orchestra • Jeremy Polmear; Artistic Director, Oboe Classics • Harry Pope; President King’s College London’s Modern Music Society • Robert Prizeman; Director, Libera • Manvinder Rattan; CEO Sing for Pleasure • Sophie Raven • Brent Read; Director of Music. Humberside Police Concert Band • Rosemary Read • Gwyn Rees; Band Manager Markham Main Colliery Band • Peter Reynolds; Chair, London Gay Symphony Orchestra • Steven Roberts; Chair, The British and International Federation of Festivals • Sharon Robinson; Chair, Fulham Symphony Orchestra • Jenny Robinson; General Manager, City of London Choir • Ruth Routledge; Music Director of Pram Chorus, Night Chorus, Little Village Voices • Anna Rowe; Arts consultant • Derrick Rowlands; Executive Member Welsh Association Male Voice Choirs • Jonathan Sage • Emily Saunders; Chair, Forest Philharmonic • Samir Savant; Festival Director, London Handel Festival • Judith Sawyer; member of Hereford Musical Theatre Company • Tessa Sayers; Chair of Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir • Matthew Schellhorn; Pianist • Ben See; choir leader, singer, composer • Tom Service; Chair, Contemporary Music for All • Peter Seymour • Dr Áine Sheil; Head of Music, University of York • Jill Shepherd; Yorchestra (York’s Holiday Orchestra) • Chris Shurety MBE; Director Contemporary Music for All • Natalie Simmonds; Wandsworth Music  • Lynfa Sioufi • Roland Smith; Musical Director, The Winkleigh Singers and Devonshire Company of Singers • Mark Sproson; freelance choral director • Dr Martin Suckling; Composer, Senior Lecturer, University of York • Professor Catherine Tackley; Head of Music, University of Liverpool • Dr Christopher Tarrant • Valerie Taylor; Musical Director, Vocal Dimension Chorus • Nicholas Theobald; Committee Member, Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra • Phillip Tolley; British Choirs on the Net • Erik Tomlin; Chair of London Gay Symphonic Winds • Jo Towler; Music in the Round  • Nigel Tully MBE; Executive Chair, NYJO (the National Youth Jazz Orchestra) • Michael Turner; Music Director – Bloomsbury Chamber Orchestra, Music Director – Oswestry Sinfonia, Assistant Conductor – Phoenix Singers (Shrewsbury), Conductor – Shropshire Youth Orchestra, Conductor – Shropshire Training Youth Orchestra • Neil Valentine; Creative Director, University of Winchester Music Centre • Mandie Vider; Music Educator • Gemma Wareham; Cellist, Berkeley Ensemble and Director of the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra • Tristan Watson; Performance and Workshops Coordinator, Leeds College of Music • Judith Webster; Chief Executive, Music for Youth • Caroline Welsh; Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra • Hilary Davan Wetton; Music Director, City of London Choir • Adrian Wheeler; Chair, Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra • Rob Williams • Dorothy Wilson-Longfils; Chair, Redditch Orchestra • Ian Wilson; Teacher of Music & Music Technology at Huntington School, York • Chris Woodhead; Chair and Secretary Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra • Elizabeth Worth; Musical Director of Belvedere Concert Band, Poplar Singers, BCE and EASRC • Simon Wright; Conductor Leeds Festival Chorus & York Guildhall Orchestra • Daniel Wright; Musical Director of Framingham Earl Singers and Teacher of Music