A MUSICIAN wants to transform schoolchildren into an orchestra for a new Channel 4 documentary.
Classical pianist James Rhodes – dubbed the musical Jamie Oliver – is on a mission to give children across the country the chance to learn to play an instrument, and is launching his revolution at St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, in Elsenham Crescent, Basildon.
He is hoping a class of 22 Year 5 pupils will go from seeing music lessons as a luxury, to being inspired by them.
The programme is being produced by Jamie Oliver’s production company Fresh One, and aims to do for children’s music education what the chef did for school dinners.
Mr Rhodes, 39, said: “They’re such great kids. They’re really dedicated and have been staying after school to learn.
“Music doesn’t really feature in their curriculum at all, so they are starting completely afresh.
“Basildon is ground zero for us. I’m hoping the orchestra will be a big hit across the country, and my music revolution will have a huge response nationally.
“I want to get us back to how things used to be, when it was normal for children to learn music at school.
“We need to put down the games consoles and fast food, and pick up instruments.
“Music really inspired me and I know it can do the same for the next generation.”
Mr Rhodes and his production team filmed a scene for the Great Instrument Amnesty at the Echo offices in Chester Hall Lane, Basildon, this week.
The classical musician was 14 when he first discovered his love for the piano, before taking a decade-long break from music when he was 18. He returned to the industrywith a bang, and has gone on to carve out a successful career as a classical pianist, which has seen him perform at Cheltenham Music Festival, Latitude Festival in Suffolk, the Melbourne Festival in Australia, the Royal Albert Hall and other venues across London.
The first challenge of his musical revolution is to equip the St Teresa’s pupils with recorders, trumpets and violins.
They are currently having to practice with homemade equipment, so Mr Rhodes is calling on the people of south Essex to donate any orchestral or acoustic instruments which are lying around unused.
The budding orchestra will be in Basildon’s Eastgate Centre from 11am on Saturday, to gather support for The Great Instrument Amnesty.
The programme is due to be televised on Channel 4 in September, Anyone who can help should call 07763 398781 or visit facebook.com/jamesrhodes instruments