Meet the grants provider: Music for All

Find out more about the charity’s work to support music in schools

In the past five years, state funding for music in schools has fallen by a fifth. That’s a shocking statistic, but it’s one that schools forced to cut back on music provision will recognise all too well. As a result, many thousands of school children do not have the opportunity to learn an instrument or to explore their creativity through music-making – something the charity Music for All urgently wants to redress.

‘There is a huge and growing need to improve children’s access to music-making and music education,’ says chair of trustees Tony Followell. ‘Music education plays a vital role in the development of children, not just in relation to learning music but to their creativity and emotional and mental health and wellbeing. What’s more, the ability of music to promote positivity and social cohesion is evident everywhere. Research from Glasgow Caledonian University has shown that for every pound spent on music education, society gets ten times the value back. So, nurturing and developing a talent pool for the future should be a no-brainer.

However, music provision in schools varies widely across the country, says Followell. Scotland has introduced free school music lessons and Wales is budgeting £4.5million a year for its national plan for music education. Provision across England is extremely patchy, and it remains to be seen what effect the new National Plan for Music Education will have.

As its name makes clear, Music for All aims to give everyone the opportunity to learn and enjoy music. And with the need to improve children’s access to music lessons becoming more pressing, the charity has focused more of its resources on increasing funding for schools. Indeed, in the last three years approximately 60% of the charity’s community awards have been given to schools and educational establishments, both to help purchase instruments and support music provision. ‘Instruments within a school are nearly always widely used, with at least three groups of more than 30 pupils likely to play them,’ says Followell. ‘We offer grants of up to £2,500 and we’ll often fund low-cost starter instruments, such as ukuleles or starter trumpets.

Previously affiliated to the Music Industries Association (representing instrument manufacturers), the charity became independent last year in order to focus on supporting music education and to run an ongoing advocacy campaign demonstrating the value and far-reaching benefits of music. By adopting a more entrepreneurial and streamlined approach, Music for All has boosted its funding base from private individuals, trusts and foundations in order to grow and diversify its work.

The charity is supported by many high-profile sponsors and ambassadors, including patron Jools Holland and well-known bands and musicians such as Snow Patrol, Gareth Malone and Jamie Cullum. Followell himself has worked as a senior BBC producer and director of music programmes, while three new trustees with wide-ranging music backgrounds recently joined the board to help deliver an inclusive agenda. They include Ishani O’Connor, who worked with Europe’s first majority black and ethnically diverse professional and youth orchestras.

Schools can apply for funding online at and there is an ongoing schedule of grant rounds.

  • Although the Music for All grant is no longer available, you can find many similar funding opportunities in the FundEd grants database, which is regularly updated.

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