Benedetti plans Jamie Oliver-style campaign for music in schools

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NICOLA Benedetti has revealed she is ready to launch a Jamie Oliver-style campaign for music in schools.

The violinist from West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, hinted she may follow in the famous chef’s footsteps by campaigning to ensure all schoolchildren have the chance to perform and listen to classical music.

The 28-year old has suggested in a couple of years she could put her blossoming career to one side to focus on pushing for a change in government policy.

In the past Benedetti has expressed concerns over government cuts leading to instrument lessons being withdrawn from schools.

But now the former BBC young musician of the year revealed that campaigning comes naturally to her.

Speaking to music magazine Gramophone she said: “If I wasn’t a violinist I would be an activist of some kind.

Benedetti has previously spoken out against cuts to music in schools
Benedetti has previously spoken out against cuts to music in schools

“The more you dig with regards to what the impact of music in education could be, the more indignant, absolutely uncompromising and committed you become about it.

“I’m giving myself another two, maybe three years of continuing to stay in this sort of open position.

“Then I think it will be time for me to look at all the knowledge and connections and I’ve gathered and make a much more formal, UK-focused attempt to bring about specific change.”

The Scot, who has performed for queens, popes and presidents, revealed she has learnt a lot from celebrity campaigners such as Jamie Oliver.

Using his popular status, Oliver launched a campaign in 2005 asking for healthier foods to be introduced to British schools.

His campaign was eventually backed by the UK Government who earlier this year introduced “sugar tax” in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.

Benedetti added: “Take Jamie Oliver with his food campaigns. You see the amount of compromising he very quickly gets into having to do when trying to get the government to pass a law.

“It has opened my eyes to see how savvy you have to be in that world to be effective.

“Being idealistic is important because you have a very clear, uncompromising vision, but unless you know how to manipulate a system as complicated as that, you won’t get as far.”

The world renowned musician said she understands that youngsters may initially not be welcome the idea of classical music – but feels it could be highly beneficial.

She said: “It is not OK for a pop song with really inappropriate lyrics to take place of a piece by Beethoven in a class of 12-year-olds.

“We have to be uncompromising in that message and not fall into the trap of having to be popular with kids all the time.

“Education is supposed to be adults who know better saying: ‘Here is what we have decided you need.

“We must not be discouraged by what we see not happening. There are thousands of people making things happen and I meet them all the time.

“What I’m most confident about about is what I love, and am moved by, music more than I ever was.”

Throughout her career, Benedetti has been involved in many music education charities and is on the board of Sistema Scotland – a charity that helps teach youngsters in deprived areas how to play musical instruments.

She has been passionate about music since learning to play the violin at four-years-old and became the leader of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain another four years later.

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