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Chase and Status to open free London music school

TINA HART
Chase and Status

Duo Saul Milton and Will Kennard, known as Mercury-signed act Chase and Status, are to open a free, east London-based music school.

The Sunday Times reports that the two are in advanced stages of planning the project which is set to cater for students aged 16-19 with courses from music performance to music technology - but also focuses on getting them to pass Maths and English at GCSE level.

Based in Tower Hamlets, one of London’s most-deprived boroughs, The East London Academy of Music is a Brit School and BPI-supported project and is due to open in September 2014.

Kennard said the idea came about a decade ago as he dropped out of university and became a teacher, TES reports he said: "I spent two years teaching a BTEC to kids who were like me in wanting to get into the music business. It was a real eye-opener because they were incredibly talented - more talented than I was - but because of the difficult backgrounds they had, they struggled to make a success out of it.

"I just saw it as a terrible waste of talent. There were kids there who had taught themselves how to play every top 40 hit on the piano, but they didn't know what C major was. I realised that what it came down to was that the opportunities simply weren't available to them as they were to me, coming from a nice middle-class background with a very supportive family behind me. They didn't have that to fall back on like I did. I just saw it as unfair and a terrible waste of talent as I felt some of the kids I worked with could easily be the next Pharrell Williams; they were that good.

"Thanks to my career, I can sit down with the heads of major record labels and use that to help young people, rather than just trying to get myself a free pair of trainers or whatever,"

The school is one of 35 projects announced this week by government-funded charity body the New Schools Network that offers financial and organisational assistance to a people looking to set up free schools – those that are managed independently but still receive government funding as per that of those managed by local authorities. The scheme was set up education secretary Michael Gove in 2011.

Kennard’s brother Charlie, and colleague Ed Butcher, both former teachers are working with him on the project.

Chase and Status’ 2011 album No More Idols reached No.2 on the Official UK Album Chart and No.1 on the Dance Chart. Track Big Man, featuring Liam Bailey, is currently available for free download - they are expected to release a third studio album later this year.

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Tags: Talent, education, chase and status

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