Skip to content

Music education in rural areas in jeopardy….BUT decent broadband is the answer

8th March 2017


  • Virtual music tuition can fill the gap for remote schools but relies on superfast broadband
  • New report supports findings of “The State of Rural Services 2016”, published earlier this year by Rural England

In a new report launched today, youth music development charity NYMAZ spells out how digital technology could revolutionise the way schools provide music tuition. But it warns that poor broadband in rural areas is limiting young people’s access to equal life opportunities.

“We’re adding our voice to the growing campaign for better broadband in the countryside”, explains Heidi Johnson, director of NYMAZ. “ Children in rural areas are missing out because it can be too expensive and time-consuming to provide them with a well-rounded music education offer. We have worked with schools across England to identify a high-quality, cost-effective way of offering remote instrumental tuition and live-streamed professional performances to pupils in isolated areas. Yet, there’s still one big sticking point: reliable, superfast broadband access.”

NYMAZ has partnered with UCan Play, the University of Hull and Music Education Hubs to develop Connect: Resound, an action research project exploring how technology can enable better and broader access to music education.  The focus is on live, online learning, where pupils are connected with instrumental teachers virtually but in real time.  The project also provides enrichment opportunities, for example, schools can tune into live broadcasts of music performances from the likes of The Hallé Orchestra, as well as interviews with bands such as Hope & Social regarding their careers in music.


Heidi Johnson, director of NYMAZ, continues: “Music Education Hubs serving areas with a large rural population are hindered by cost, transport and logistical barriers. By incorporating the Connect: Resound model of virtual tuition into the weekly schedule, teachers could spend less time travelling and more time teaching.”

Echoing the findings of Rural England’s report published earlier this year, “The State of Rural Services 2016”, NYMAZ’s Connect: Resound project highlights that dependable broadband access is vital if children in remote locations are to have equal life chances.


David Inman, director of Rural Services Network, emphasises, “ The Rural Services Network feels that broadband is both a massive opportunity and a potential serious divide for rural areas. Strong future proofed telecommunication and broadband links are essential for ground-breaking innovations to become a reality. The alternative is that we risk remote areas becoming ‘not spots’: what hope does that give our young people? We feel strong connectivity for all is vital.”


Leah Swain, chief officer of Rural Action Yorkshire, comments, “Rural Action Yorkshire has been championing the need for reliable and superfast broadband for all rural communities across Yorkshire for the last four years. The NYMAZ report shows once again how key it is – not just for our businesses – but to also give young people equitable access to education opportunities. Providing music education in rural areas is a real challenge due to sparsity of the population, distances to travel and therefore additional cost. Being able to offer live, online learning, where pupils are connected with instrumental teachers virtually but in real time sounds a fantastic way of getting more pupils engaged in music. We need to start planning now how to ensure we have 100% coverage of superfast broadband.”

The Connect: Resound model makes use of Skype software but emphasises the necessity for additional audio-visual equipment (see Notes to Editors) to ensure a richer experience for teachers and pupils – for example, better quality sound and the ability to have multiple camera angles and close-ups.


Dr Jonathan Savage, managing director of UCan Play adds, “ UCan Play has been delighted to support this project with innovative approaches to live streaming featuring affordable, reliable and robust technology from our key partners such as Roland UK. Moving forward, we’ll be exploring new solutions that build on the latest technology and the simple yet powerful controls that they offer for sharing audio and video online. “


Following a successful pilot in North Yorkshire in 2014/15, Connect: Resound rolled out its approach to four additional areas, working in partnership with the local Music Education Hubs – Cornwall Music Hub, Cumbria Music Hub, Durham Music Service (lead partner in the Durham and Darlington Music Hub), and East Riding of Yorkshire Music Hub.  This phase has been supported by public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the JP Getty Jnr Charitable Trust.

Download Project Report


Notes to editors

About Connect: Resound

For further information on the background to the Connect: Resound project:
Schools and teachers involved in the 2016 phase of research were provided with an online teaching kit, supported by training, which comprised:

–       Internet-enabled computer

–       Roland VR-3EX audio-video mixer/streamer

–       3 x video cameras

–       1 x full sized tripod, 2 x desk tripods

–       1 x wearable clip on microphone (for teachers)

–       1 x condenser microphones (matched pair) with stands

NYMAZ is a youth music development charity which advocates for the benefits of participatory music; calls for better support for rural music provision; and supports the sector through workforce development. We believe that all children and young people should have access to high quality music making opportunities, no matter their circumstances or geographic location. We also believe that music can change young people’s lives – raising aspirations, enabling personal and social development and of course bringing fun and enjoyment through creative expression. Operational since 2001,we are a strategic partner of Youth Music, one of only 13 in the country, working to create a musically-inclusive England. NYMAZ is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee.


About UCan Play

UCan Play and has undertaken a range of research in partnership with companies and various universities across the country, including Roland UK, Sound &Music, Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan University, RNCM, and the University of Cambridge. Our most recent project was a case study within the celebrated Listen, Imagine, Compose project run by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.


About University of Hull

The University of Hull was originally established as University College Hull in 1927, before becoming England’s fourteenth university upon the grant of a Royal Charter in 1954. Today the University is a vibrant and ambitious institution with more than 16,000 students from over 100 countries. Its six faculties offer teaching and research across a wide range of disciplines, including health, business, social sciences, the performing arts, education, science and engineering.

Connect via Twitter: @UniOfHull, Facebook:, or you can download the app at