The EMI Music Sound Foundation renamed the Universal Music UK Sound Foundation as it turns 21

Budding musicians at the Rowlands Gill Primary School, one of the Foundation’s beneficiaries

One of the UK’s most important music education charities, the EMI Music Sound Foundation, celebrates its 21st birthday by notching up a number of milestones. The most impressive of these is that it has reached £8 million in donations, grants and bursaries aimed at improving access to music education for young people. More than 10,000 children have benefited from the charity’s work, whether for the purchase of musical instruments and equipment or for music lessons. The Foundation has supported 26 secondary schools, investing a total of £2.4 million. An additional 200 children are supported through the  charity’s Hardship Fund, ensuring that they have access to music lessons. To mark the 21st anniversary, on top of their yearly awards of £6000, each of the 26 sponsored state schools received an extra £5000 in funding for 2018. Now that the EMI Group is owned by Universal Music Group, the charity has recently changed its name to Universal Music UK Sound Foundation. 

Sir Paul McCartney, commenting on the bursary support received by the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, said: ‘On behalf of our students, from Liverpool and beyond, we are grateful for these awards which help make what can be impossible, possible.  The Universal Music UK Sound Foundation is enabling many worthy students to learn, despite financial handicaps.’ Fellow supporter Yoko Ono added: ‘For so many young people, music is an incredibly important lifeline. I am delighted to have supported the Foundation for 20 years and to have seen the positive impact it has made to so many schools and individuals through the power of music.’

One student, 22-year-old Natalie, who received a bursary (one of 600 offered across 11 music schools and colleges) and subsequently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, recalled the importance of the Foundation in her own life: ‘Both my parents are deaf but my mum does enjoy watching me play … I think perhaps if they weren’t deaf it would have affected the journey because they never forced me into anything – anything I did was because I enjoyed it and I wanted to do it.’ New bursaries have also been granted for three Master of Arts (MA) in Music Education through partnership with the UCL Institute of Education (IOE).