Essex Music Service has a team of over 300 music tutors, delivering individual and small group instrumental lessons to students in schools throughout Essex. Any instrument can be catered for, with lessons currently being provided on all orchestral instruments, guitar, keyboard and voice. In addition to these lessons, many key stage 2 students receive whole class instrumental lessons through the Music Service’s ‘first access’ programme.

Students are encouraged to further their instrumental skills at one of the weekly music schools hosted around the county where players can develop ensemble skills, meet other like-minded musicians and take part in regular performing opportunities. For more information, please view the ‘ensembles’ and ‘Music Schools’ area on the homepage.

Teachers are encouraged to enter pupils for instrumental exams providing pupils, parents and schools with recognised accreditation. Schools are provided on request with a termly report for each student, providing value feedback and targets for parents and students.

The Music Service can offer quality assurance through its programme of continual professional development and monitoring for all staff. Staff work within statutory guidelines set out by the local authority.

For more details on putting Instrumental Lessons into your school, please email

New statement from Charly Richardson,Music Service Lead Officer, with approval by County Councillors and Essex Music Education Hub’s Oversight Group:-

From April 2018 there will be a rise in the hourly charge for peripatetic vocal and instrumental music tuition from £28.00 to £30.00.  This charge is usually paid for by parents/carers, but is sometimes partly or fully funded by schools, and also covers services which are bought-in by schools.

All services offered by Essex Music Services and Essex Music Education Hub (including individual and small group tuition) are heavily subsidised by our Music Hub grant which comes from the DfE and is administered by Arts Council England. This grant is used to support work with young people aged 5-18 in all Essex schools.

In Essex for many years the hourly charge has been significantly lower than other areas. If you include on-costs and backroom costs, at £30 the new hourly charge is still subsidised by around 11%.  £30 per hour is very competitive nationally (with some services charging well over £50).  £30 is the minimum charged by services in the East, with others charging £33, £34 and £40.

This price rise will make the service more sustainable as historical low-charging is balanced out, and will mean that –subject to similar levels of core funding- we will not need any further large increases. Instead we will be establishing a 1.5% annual increment in the charge from April 2019 (i.e. April 2019 the charge will rise to £30.45, April 2020 to £30.91).  This annual increment is significantly below inflation and simply allows us to cover annual increases in on-costs and backroom costs, allowing more funds to be channelled into developing new and innovative ways to deliver the Core and Extension Roles laid out in the National Plan for Music Education.

Our ever-increasing offer for schools, academies and Free Schools includes First Access (Whole Class Instrumental Tuition), CPD & training, school improvement work, ensembles and community music schools, digital learning resources, and much more.  A PDF outlining all our services is attached, and please do have a look at our new website.

This charge will also apply to specialist services bought-in by schools such as First Access (first term free for all KS2 schools), SEND, Technology and in-school Ensemble provision. As we pay a higher rate for this specialist work, the £30 charge is still heavily subsided at 24% (not including backroom costs).

As a national leader in musical inclusion, we work hard to ensure that we can work with all young people, regardless of their circumstances or characteristics.  Of course we do not want this price rise to decrease accessibility for disadvantaged groups, which is why we offer tuition vouchers covering 66% of the cost of tuition for low-income families.  The recommended practice is then for schools to use PPG money to make up the difference, and this has been adopted by many schools across Essex.  From April 2018 we are raising this threshold to £22,000.  We also offer young people from low-income families a 50% reduction in instrument hire charges and offer bursaries to make our county ensembles and choirs more inclusive and accessible.

In partnership with the Virtual School, since April 2017 our entire offer has been 100% free for all Looked After Children, children subject to a Special Guardianship Order, Child Arrangement Order, or Children adopted from care. This exciting offer will be maintained.

We hope that you have seen the huge change in the service in the last few years. We believe that our offer is not only more diverse, but also of a higher quality.

The benefits of receiving tuition through Essex Music Services include:

  • A heavily subsidised, quality-assured service. Our tutors are observed yearly by our mentors under a ‘Quality Learning Framework’ developed with Trinity College London.
  • Highly-trained music tutors who have continual access to a ground-breaking programme of quality CPD opportunities.
  • Rigorous recruitment, safeguarding, conduct policies and pre-employment checks, with regular Level 2 Child Protection training for all tutors.
  • All traded income is invested back so we can offer more to our schools and communities.

This is also a good time to remind you that in April 2018 we will be introducing a new browser-based system which will streamline administrative processes for schools, parents and the service. More information on this will be coming shortly.

I understand that this price rise may cause challenges for some, however I hope that you can see that this is necessary to keep improving and expanding our offer and reach.  There are many exciting opportunities underway and on the horizon, and I look forward to our continued work together.

Charly Richardson

Music Service Lead Officer