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Kimichi School opens doors to new educational tune

Headteacher wants to promote music lessons at new fee-paying schools in Acocks Green

Sally Alexander, head teacher of Kimichi School where all pupils must play a musical instrument

A new independent school opened its doors in Birmingham this week with one rule - all pupils must play a musical instrument.

Teacher Sally Alexander has set up Kimichi School in Acocks Green after becoming disillusioned by the way music was taught in state schools.

Pupils at the fee-paying school will spend a fifth of the week learning how to play their instruments while music will also be incorporated to other academic subjects such as geography, English and history.

Ms Alexander, a former teacher at Kings Norton Boys School, said: "Often, in state schools, you find classrooms full of musical instruments but barely any time on the curriculum to teach it.

"Music is almost an after thought, with little chance of pupils doing fun things like playing in groups and performing together.

"Very few get the chance to learn an instrument and even those who do have a few lessons, take an exam and never play again after leaving school.

"I feel so strongly this should not be how music is taught that I thought I should practice what I want to preach and set up my own school.

"It's been a three-year slog but finally here, with every emotion and penny I have poured into it."

And the school has won support from many accomplished musicians, with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra cellist Richard Jenkinson among its board of trustees.

Meanwhile, world renowned pianist Peter Donohoe CBE was joined by musicians from the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Worcester Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Saint John, Sinfonia of Birmingham and Eroica Camerata in a concert at St Martin's Church in the Bullring at the weekend to celebrate the opening of the school.

However, so far the school - which charges £2,000 a term - has just three pupils on its register, as well as seven teachers on the payroll.

"We only got approval from the Department for Education in August, months after most parents have sorted out school places for their children," said the principal.

"I have had a lot of interest though and I am positive the numbers will quickly increase."

She said the school would limit numbers to 15 pupils per class, with students of all music abilities welcome.

Ms Alexander added: "We don't hold auditions. And we also don't believe in putting kids in boxes. Every child is different, learns differently, excels in different things."

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