Category Archives: Advocacy

Duchess of Kent: ‘My love for teaching music at Hull state primary school’

The Duchess of Kent has spoken movingly of her “love” for teaching at a state primary school in Hull, after ill health forced her withdraw from official royal engagements.


In a touching television interview, the 78 year-old spoke of her excitement teaching music, mostly anonymously, for eight years at Wansbeck Primary School.

The Duchess, whose husband the Duke of Kent is the Queen’s cousin, admitted she got a “tickle” of excitement when she recognised talent in pupils.

Known as “Mrs Kent” to her students, the royal said she was proud to have given some the confidence to go on to university or pursue careers that previously would have been unachievable.

But she said she feared for the future of music in the English school curriculum, which could deprive underprivileged children of valuable stimulation.

She said music was powerful enough to help children climb the virtual “Berlin Wall” that surrounds many council estates across the country. It is thought to be the first time she has publicly spoken of her time in teaching.

In a pre-recorded interview, broadcast on The Alan Titchmarsh Show later on Friday, the duchess also gives a rare insight into her life and discloses that she is an avid user of her iPhone and is a fan of popular music.

After her self-imposed exile from public life in 1996, she agreed to a friend’s request to visit Wansbeck Primary School after they moved to the city.

Upon her visit, the head teacher disclosed that the school was in desperate need of a music teacher, and she volunteered. She was involved with the school for the next 13 years.

“When I was teaching the first thing I began to notice was the power of music as a stimulant to these children to give them confidence and self-belief. I began to see that happen all the time,” she told the ITV1 show.

“Some of the children I taught haven’t necessarily become musicians, but the confidence it has given them, some have joined the Army, some to university, which they might not have done otherwise.

“I have always loved talent, I love that tickle up the neck when you see talent and I began to realise I was teaching some very, very gifted children.”

She added: “I love those children, I loved being there and I love Hull, I wouldn’t have stayed there if I hadn’t.

As a schoolgirl the Duchess learnt to play the piano, the violin and the organ and narrowly missed out on a place at the Royal Academy of Music.

She pursued her passion for music through finishing school in Oxford and held dreams of playing at Carnegie Hall.

Asked if music was underrated in schools, she replied: “Oh my goodness is it underrated. I would love to see one of the arts being compulsory at GCSE level. I think that would be wonderful.

“Someone asked me the other day, why wasn’t music as popular as football and I couldn’t answer at the time because I was nervous but then I realised that music is so much more popular than football.

“There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t tap their feet to music.”

Since leaving teaching, the duchess has launched a music charity, Future Talent, which aims to help gifted children develop their musical prowess, the Daily Mail reported. The charity now works with orchestras such as the Halle in Manchester and links them with primary and secondary schools.

The duchess has three children with the Duke of Kent – George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, Lady Helen Taylor and Lord Nicholas Windsor.

But following the stillbirth of her fourth child in 1977, she suffered recurrent health problems and her withdrawal from the royal circuit prompted claims she had become a recluse.

Public appearances also became rare following her decision to convert to Catholicism in 1994, becoming the first senior royal to convert publicly since the passing of the 1701 Act of Settlement.

Join the fastest growing and most dynamic International Musicians Community – FFM on Facebook

Join Freedom For Musicians at our Facebook Home

Freedom for musicians is an international cooperative for musicians to share and cross promote each other’s work. In our Facebook group you can promote your gigs, products and
services to an international audience. You can also feature on our website

What Freedom for Musicians can do for you:

By joining the Facebook group you are automatically a member of FFM.

You can have your music blog or articles published on the website.

You can have your music videos and youtube channel published and promoted at FFM.

You can list your products and services on our musicians directory and in the musicians market.

You can publish your events and concerts on our Upcoming Events feature.

You can be a featured artist.

You can become an FFM Ambassador for your country.

Music students can featured in our Spotlight.

You can release your digital music via our own independent record label FFM Records.

Come and join FFM’s Facebook community and be part of the fastest growing and most dynamic international musicians network.

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Be careful of culture  because it can be lost

This is the chorus of Umuco (Culture), composed and performed by youth leaders and children in Rwanda.

When war comes, culture is lost. But more: when those who promote and profit from war gain power, culture is attacked and we lose our voices.

The human right to culture (Art. 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is strongly tied to all other human rights. It is culture that lets us lift our voices, tell our stories, sing our truth.

When war has raged and culture is lost, the bringing back of culture is a radical act of peacebuilding.

Please help us bring back culture for those who are bravely turning from war to life.

In today’s global turmoil of war, injustice and climate disaster, we need to remember to hold on.

As 2017 comes to a close, we ask our supporters around the world to hold on to your hope, to your communities, and to us.

Please help us to continue our work in 2018.

Introducing Our New Feature – Spotlight on a Music Student

At FFM, we want to highlight new and aspiring musical talent wherever we find it and where better than the many Music Colleges, Universities and Schools around the world. Our new feature ‘Spotlight on a Music Student’ is an opportunity for you or someone you know to step into the spotlight and share your talent, dreams and ambitions with the musical world.

All you have to do is send us your information, pictures, videos, sound clips and links  and we will compile your feature.

email direct to

Much love and happy music making,

The FFM team

Funding a Fantastic Musical Project

Freedom For Musicians  are raising funds for our fantastic musical friends in Uganda.  They need to buy instruments to continue the fantastic work already being done by the David Kiwana Wind Orchestra.

“We are a starting wind classics band and we intend to give chance to our players to play music and we really need your support for us to do it please what ever you give will help give a chance to one African child a chance to get a chance to play music .
thank you all all friends around the world .
Help spread the word!”
Wodonya Innocent

Innocent Wodonya
Visit Innocent’s Gofundme page by clicking here.

With no public funding, these brilliant young musicians rely on kind donations to buy and repair their instruments. I am raising money to not only provide an equipment fund, but to provide tuition and a professional digital recording which they can sell to provide a small income and sustainable funding. This will be released through FFM Records. Please help us help them with any donation you can manage by visiting Gofundme.
Much love,
Roger Moisan


Introducing Rupert Cheek – FFM Ambassador for the United Kingdom


Rupert Cheek

Rupert Cheek: FFM Ambassador for the UK

Personal profile

I am a musician. Having graduated with a BMus in 2002 I went on to postgraduate study (composition for TV & Film) and performed as part of an international arts event (London, Edinburgh, Berlin) through a connection as University. I have worked as a pianist in primary education, been a drummer in various bands, and accompanied singers and songwriters. I’m also a part time composer and working on a music theatre / musical / opera project in my spare time.

Company profile

My name is Rupert Cheek and I live in London, UK. I studied music for many years; including piano from the age of 5 – 22. I graduated with a BMus and studied TV/Film composition as a post graduate. I loved playing drums in bands and accompanying singers on the piano. I’m organising an arts festival in London to raise money for London’s Air Ambulance and Nordoff Robbins.

Cheeky Promo Arts Festival

I’m very curious and I love asking questions, listening, learning and sharing what I’ve learnt. I relish helping people (musicians, entrepreneurs / startups, businesses) to connect online. I have been an active user of Facebook since 2007, Twitter since 2009 and LinkedIn.

I maintain and develop Cheeky Promo, the music community I established in January 2013. Cheeky Promo is a music promoter based in the UK, working predominantly online to help musicians in any way we can. Particular highlights have included connecting with, meeting, promoting and hearing 2 blind classical pianists from Buenos Aires perform in London, meeting former Freakpower member Ashley Slater and promoting his band Kitten And The Hip. If you’d like some help to promote your music, startup or business, please email

Additional info

@CheekyPromo – 50K followers / Instagram – 4K followers / Google+ community – 4500+ members / Google+ page – 200 followers Facebook page – 2450+ Likes / Facebook group – 540 members / Pinterest – 4600 followers / SoundCloud – 1640 followers Tumblr – 785 followers / Flickr group – 75 members & 1500 images / LinkedIn page – 213 followers / LinkedIn group – 474 members 24k @rupertcheek / 17k connections on LinkedIn / 12k @pianotalent / 9k @CheekyStartups

Visit Cheeky Promo here

“Love People” – 1000 children, 15 different countries, singing for peace and tolerance worldwide


“If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”Jimi Hendrix

Musicians without Borders uses the power of music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war.

Our long-term commitment allows our participants the time to develop skills and talents, process grief and loss, and build bridges of reconciliation in societies divided by recent or ongoing conflict. Our professional trainers are specialized in running community music projects with people dealing with trauma, fear and isolation as a result of war and conflict.

We work closely with local musicians and organizations to build sustainable projects in response to local needs. From successful projects we develop models, methodologies and trainings to adapt for other regions.

Musicians without Borders is building a global network of musicians and music lovers who support our work with their time, energy, expertise and financial donations.


“You may be poor, you may only have a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope.”•• Nelson Mandela

Where war has raged, people need everything to return to life: food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine. But more than anything, people need hope. To reconcile, people need empathy. To heal, people need connection and community.

  • Music creates empathy, builds connection and gives hope.
  • Music crosses ethnic divides and provides neutral space to meet through shared talents and passions.
  • Community music-making is a direct and accessible tool for connecting people and engaging and mobilizing communities.
  • From drum circles to choirs to rock bands, music can be practiced by any person at her/his own level regardless of musical skills, whether in small groups or in a setting of hundreds or even thousands of people.

Mitrovica Rock School – In post-war Kosovo, aspiring young rock stars meet across divides at the Mitrovica Rock School, where it’s all about the music.

Palestine Community Music – Training youth and young professionals to bring music to marginalized children in West Bank refugee camps, villages, schools, hospitals and orphanages.

Rwanda Youth Music – Introducing music therapy, training and community music activities to empower youth and children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Community Music & Health (Uganda) – Training youth leaders to use music to address the effects of HIV in young people.

Music Bridge – Bridging divides in Northern Ireland with community music training and activities.

Welcome Notes (The Netherlands) – Bringing comfort, solidarity and hope to war refugees through music.

Soy Música (El Salvador) – Together with Salvadoran music teachers and community leaders, we share tools to provide at-risk children with experiences of safety, inclusion, creativity and joy.

‘We want to be happy’: Iraqi violinist plays in Mosul as troops battle IS

By Ulf Laessing | MOSUL, IRAQ

Amid the bombed-out ruins of an ancient site revered by both Muslims and Christians in Mosul, Iraqi violinist Ameen Mukdad on Wednesday held a small concert in the city he was forced to flee by Islamic State militants.

As Mukdad played scores he had composed in secret while living under the militants’ austere rule, explosions and gunfire could be heard from Mosul’s western districts where U.S.-backed forces are still battling Islamic State for control.

Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under ISIS’s rule for two and a half years where they destroyed his musical instruments, performs at Nabi Yunus shrine in eastern Mosul, Iraq, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed

“This is a place for all, not just one sect. Daesh represents no religion but is an ideology that suppresses freedom,” Mukdad told Reuters, using a derogatory name for the militants. “Everything about Daesh is wrong.”

Mukdad, 28, fled Mosul after Islamic State fighters stormed his house and confiscated his instruments, deeming his music a violation of their hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Memebers of the Iraqi security forces stand guard as Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under ISIS’s rule for two and a half years where they destroyed his musical instruments, performs at Nabi Yunus shrine in eastern Mosul, Iraq, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed

Wednesday’s hour-long concert marked his first return to the city that was overrun by Islamic State in 2014.

Mukdad said he chose the Tomb of Jonas, or Mosque of the Prophet Younis, as the site is known by Muslims, to symbolize unity.

“I want to take the opportunity to send a message to the world and send a strike against terrorism and all ideologies which restrict freedom that music is a beautiful thing,” he said.

“Everyone who opposes music is ugly.”

Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under ISIS’s rule for two and a half years where they destroyed his musical instruments, performs at Nabi Yunus shrine in eastern Mosul, Iraq, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed


Mukdad advertised the concert venue and time on social media, a bold move in eastern Mosul at a time the militants still control the Old City across the Tigris river.

Soldiers guarding the venue, which lies near the ancient Nineveh ruins, at first refused access after the boom of a nearby rocket rang out, saying they could not guarantee the public’s safety. They later relented, and troops joined the applauding crowd.

Ameen Mukdad, a violinist from Mosul who lived under ISIS’s rule for two and a half years where they destroyed his musical instruments, performs in eastern Mosul, Iraq, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed

“The performance was like a dream,” said Tahany Saleh, who as a woman was forced by the militants to cease her university studies.

“I wanted to come to give a message that war has not stopped life in Mosul,” she said. “You can see all this damage but still we still want to be happy, we want to listen music.”

Under Islamic State rule, entertainment was banned. But in defiance of the militants, Mukdad continued to play at home alone or quietly with a dwindling circle of fellow musicians, closing windows to avoid detection.

“I stopped playing because I was too afraid but Ameen kept going,” said Hakam Anas, one of his friends who founded a musical club with the violinist. “We tried persuading him that he could get easily killed, but he kept playing.”

One night the militants raided Mukdad’s house, taking his instruments and vowing to punish him. He escaped to Baghdad where he still lives.

In a sign of how nervous Mosul residents remain six months into the military operation to flush out Islamic State, just 20 people, mostly young men, attended the concert.

“This is what we young people need,” said Abdullah Thaier.

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; editing by Richard Lough)

Be empathy. Be hope.

We drove out of the crammed city, past polluted rivers, on dirt roads through dried-out palm forests, to a small school in the woods. Gang territory.

A few weeks ago, I traveled with one of our trainers through El Salvador to plan a project with UNICEF: strengthening children’s resilience in a country that has suffered from war and its successor—gang and criminal violence—for many decades.

Against a hopeless context—dislocation, poverty, decades of unprocessed trauma, lack of economic or social perspective—we met them: Pablo, a young violinist, who returned from exile to start a children’s orchestra in his native town. Sister Peggy, whose Center for Art for Peace brought life back to an empty city and made it safe. Mia, a musician who has taught generations of young Salvadoran artists to teach children in their own communities. David, Gabriel and Cecilia, who bring children to their cultural center in the woods, to draw, write, make music, and learn about their indigenous heritage.

They remind me of the words of a dear, wise friend: where empathy is lacking, be empathy. Where hope is lacking, be hope.

In a world dominated by violence and hopelessness, we are reminded that in every dry jungle, there is an oasis of hope. As musicians, we are lucky to have the greatest tool for empathy and hope: music. We are proud to join with other musicians without borders, to support their work in bringing empathy and hope through music to the children of El Salvador.

In peace,

Laura Hassler
Director & Founder
Musicians without Borders


The Music Fund for Cuba: Who we are

Who we are

The Music Fund for Cuba is the only UK registered charity which supports the development of music, arts and culture in Cuba.

Working with partner organisations on the island the Music Fund has already distributed tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment to children and young people in music, arts, dance and special needs schools.It also raised £350,000 for the renovation of the Miramar Theatre in Havana.

The Music Fund for Cuba was established in 2001 in memory of British singer Kirsty MacColl who was inspired by Cuban music in her last album and loved the island, its culture, and its people.

Cuba is renowned for its cultural traditions. Its music, art, and dance are enjoyed by people around the world. Budding artistic talent is nurtured and encouraged within the country’s free music and arts schools which are open to all.

Sadly this heritage and the development of future talent are hindered by a lack of access to basic equipment and materials that we in richer countries often take for granted.

Violin strings, paper for music scores, reeds for woodwind instruments, ballet shoes, paints and other small but essential items are all in short supply. One of the  main reason for these shortages is the continuing economic blockade of the island by the United States.

The Music Fund for Cuba aims to help nurture new talent by providing much needed support and equipment for children and young musicians, dancers and artists throughout the island that may otherwise be denied.

By supporting  this vital work, you can help  to keep alive Cuba’s rich cultural heritage and nurture a new generation of talent.

Please make a donation today.