Music to Our Ears
Within 15 months of Richard Ashton being offered a loan by Fredericks Foundation to develop his business, World Beats Music Ltd. (www.worldbeatsmusic.co.uk) it had taken off in many ways.
His award-winning company started in 2010 by providing professional music tutors for primary schools that didn’t have specialist music teachers. But since then it has taken off in many directions.
The company now provides whole-class cover for teachers when they can be planning their lessons in other subjects (‘PPA time’) from Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 2. The huge benefit of this is that the students are taught by professional music teachers; this does not otherwise happen in UK primary schools. More than that, costs are reduced for a better quality service because WBM teachers are only employed by schools when needed.
In addition, the company provides music teaching input for the government’s National Plan for Music Education (NPME) which is aimed at giving high quality whole class instrumental teaching in primary schools. The company uses percussion instruments for this – in particular African drumming and Brazilian samba music! And the children love it. Through the Oxford Music Education Partnership, Richard’s business also provides cover for teachers on long-term and short-term leave.
Now based in dedicated offices and a studio in Appleford-on-Thames, WBM employs six professional graduate teachers, and offers music coaching in drum kit, orchestral and world percussion, guitar, bass guitar, piano and will shortly be offering coaching in a range of other instruments (including ukulele!) – all this on an individual or small group basis.
Richard commented, “We’re forward-thinking in everything we do”. He went on to say that the secret of his success is to continually improve the efficiency and quality of the company’s services from the customers’ perspective. For example, one of his key aims is to reduce the administrative burden for small schools – in this case by making it easier to organise and monitor music classes; and he does this by continually seeking out and providing schools and his company with cutting-edge technology. This then makes WBM’s services sustainable over the long-term. A perfect win-win.
So where does all this impetus for continual improvement come from? Richard said, “[I believe that] all kids by the end of primary school should have an understanding of music and [have] experienced an emotional engagement with it. This means that they understand the history, basic texture and structure of music as well as the ability to read and write it”. Specifically his dream would be to have a dedicated Music Teacher in every school in the UK working a minimum of 2 days per week. And in today’s climate where County Services are being cut, this is a bold vision, but one being assertively pursued at World Beats Music.
Asked what advice would he give to budding entrepreneurs, Richard’s reply was instant and clear, “… do it, don’t rush anything, be thorough and never compromise…do everything [in the best way possible] and then improve it”. He then added, “… and keep business and personal life separate”
Gil Hilleard, Chair of Fredericks Foundation in Oxfordshire said, “Richard’s track record to date is very impressive; it’s down to his innovative approach to providing high quality, sustainable services to his clients, careful business management and his passion for his vision; his success is really music to our ears.”
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