Herne Hill People's Piano Academy

A Community project London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Help us start a revolution - the world's first People's Piano Academy that brings every child the life-changing chance to learn music


20,000 stretch target 16%


Days left


Fund it This project will only be funded if at least £2,000 is pledged by 2:00pm 29th October 2016

There are over 1,500 street pianos across the world.  They all provide an incredible opportunity for people to sit down and play for free; but none of them yet helps children to actually learn to play the piano.  Imagine the potential if we could change this...

We want to start a revolution - the world's first People's Piano Academy that brings every child the life-changing chance to learn music, regardless of ability to pay. 

It’s proven that piano lessons:

  • Help children in school
  • Raise self esteem
  • Increase coordination
  • Help children to develop

BUT only 8% of children in state schools are learning an instrument.  Despite the Government's music manifesto to give every child in England the chance of free or cut-price tuition, children are much more likely to access music lessons in independent schools, and cost is a big factor.

Herne Hill wants to change this.  We're launching the world’s first People’s Piano Academy, bringing piano lessons to local children who couldn't otherwise afford the opportunity.  And changing lives through the process.

The Herne Hill People's Piano is a community institution - anyone and everyone can sit down and have a go; or bash out a full sonata.  It's a piano without social limits.

We want to build on this, launching the People's Piano Academy to break down the barriers that deny some children the chance to learn music.

How would the academy work?

  • Regular, ring-fenced 'Academy Hours' at the Herne Hill People's Piano - where children can sit and learn with a teacher, or can practice on their own, at regular slots. 
  • A team of entrepreneurial local pianists, offering affordable beginner lessons to local children - the lessons will be provided at well below market rates by local secondary school students who can already play the piano well - these academy teachers will benefit from regular paid work, CV points, and support from our team of experienced coaches; whilst beginner-level academy students will benefit from access to heavily discounted lessons
  • A pool of scholarship students, receiving beginner lessons for free - in addition, 'Academy Scholarship Students' will be carefully selected by local schools, to receive their lessons completely free.   These places will be funded from a share of the cut-price academy lesson fee, as well as from stand-alone fund-raising campaigns.  
  • Errrrm, I don't get it - how does the detail work???! We're aiming for a financially self-sustaining academy, that lasts beyond the resources of any discrete fund-raising campaign.  We're currently finalising the nitty gritty, but here's a working example: if a Sixth Former teaches three 20 minute lessons at £5 each, the academy receives 3x£5 = £15 in an hour.  This enables three local children to receive a 20 minute lesson for £5 each, (compared to a market rate of ~£35/hour).  The Sixth Former keeps 60% of the fee, so receives an hourly income of 3x£3 = £9; the academy, keeps the other 40% (£6), which funds two free lessons for Academy Scholarship Students who have been selected to receive free tuition.
  • Lessons will be held in the Herne Hill Practice Academy - while 'Academy Hour' at the People's Piano will allow children to learn and practice on an informal basis, we know it's a bit of a public venue for regular lessons.  So we've partnered with a local business who will host a second 'practice piano' in a quieter setting.
  • All teachers, volunteers and project team members will be fully DBS/CRB checked, and all relevant risk assessments and insurance requirements will be in place to keep everyone happy and healthy.

Everyone's a winner:

We think we've built a winning and innovative, model which brings:

  • Regular employment and CV points to local young pianists, whilst giving them an exciting chance to put their musical talents to good use and take their first steps into teaching
  • Heavily discounted beginner piano lessons for local children
  • Free beginner piano lessons to carefully selected Academy Schoarship Students
  • A model that is self-sustaining for the long term
  • A model that doesn't stigmatise children who receive free tuition - everyone's invited to be part of the Academy and Scholarship places will be sought after
  • The chance for local parents and carers to try beginner lessons for their children in a convenient, central Herne Hill location, without having to commit to regular, more costly private tuition
  • Access to a community library of piano learning materials - ranging from 'teach yourself piano' resources, to 'chord of the week' hand placements painted above the piano for all to practice
  • The opportunity to take our much-loved Street Piano to its full potential and create a  community academy that dissolves social barriers to music tuition

What will your contribution fund?

We are thinking big, big, BIG so please help us really put Herne Hill on the map for something long-term and truly amazing.

We will use your contribution to help launch the academy, including promotion to ensure we engage as many local children as possible;  recruitment and coaching of academy student teachers in partnership with local secondary schools;  partnership working with local schools to identify scholarship candidates;  and purchase of appointment-booking software to enable easy administration of the academy.

Any funds raised that exceed the set-up and operational costs will go straight to funding free scholarship lessons.  So please give generously - the more we can raise, the more free piano lessons we can provide. 

  • Donate £25:           for five x 20 minute lessons
  • Donate £50:           for ten x 20 minute lessons
  • Donate £100:        for twenty x 20 minute lessons
  • Donate £1,000:    to totally transform a child’s life 

BONUS PRIZE! If we hit our £2,000 target, we're eligible for an additional £11,000 of match funding.  Cue dramatic piano chords....But time is ticking and we're on an 'all or nothing' fundraising structure.  Please dig deep and help us to smash our target and really make a difference.  Together we might just help the next Chopin to discover their potential against life's odds...

Any questions or have piano skills to share? info@hernehillforum.org.uk