A MUSIC cooperative that “pushed the boundaries of technology” to provide online lessons for children and young people has won a top award.

The North Wales Music Cooperative, a not-for-profit organisation providing quality music tuition for pupils in Denbighshire and Wrexham, was honoured at the prestigious Social Business Wales Awards, winning the technology category, Tech for Good.

When the pandemic struck last year, the cooperative grasped the nettle and came up with new and innovative methods of working to achieve a “high degree of social impact”.

Teachers and staff totally revamped the service  to keep music lessons alive, creating what cooperative chair Cllr Mark Young described as a “lean, green teaching machine”

He said: “Their success is fully deserved. It’s been a very tough two years and as chair of the co-operative I’ve been so impressed by the way the teachers have just got on with it and set up an almost totally new way of delivering the service to the youngsters of Denbighshire and Wrexham.

“They have pushed the boundaries of technology and ensured they are able to reach every child who wants tuition.

“In doing so they have developed their own skills and have reduced the amount of travelling they do, meaning more children can benefit from their expertise. No one is excluded

“What they’ve done is created a lean, green teaching machine which will serve the area well in the future.

“I’m not surprised at this recognition at the Social Business Wales Awards, it is very well deserved, I’m delighted and I salute them.”

North Wales Music Co-operative founder and Head of Service Heather Powell said they started seven years ago after funding cuts were made across Wales to music education.

She said: “The service is run by the tutors for the good of children and young people in Denbighshire and Wrexham.”

When the pandemic hit, training was quickly organised for the staff and has continued ever since.

Teachers and tutors communicated with more than 200 schools but did so online and often directly to several schools at once.

North Wales Music Co-operative on-line music lessons; Pictured are Nico Tardivel ,9 who is having guitar lessons. and Lucca Tardivel ,11 who is having singing lessons from opera singer Sioned Terry. Picture Mandy Jones

The news that they had been shortlisted for the award came through as the cooperative’s band, Make Some Noise, was in the middle of a virtual tour, reaching out to more than 200 schools in North Wales and beyond.

Heather added: “We will continue to use technology and operate a hybrid system visiting schools where necessary but providing online tuition as well ensuring even the most rural schools, which may have only one pupil receiving tuition, is provided for.

“And we hope to expand the service in the future. It is an exciting time,” she said.

The Social Business Wales Awards have been run annually since 2010, as part of the Social Business Wales project, to highlight and honour the best social businesses in Wales.

At the online awards ceremony, hosted by television presenter Jennifer Jones, the cooperative’s band, Make Some Noise, delighted guests  with a rousing rendition of ‘Uptown Funk’.

Speaking at the awards ceremony Derek Walker, Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Officer, said: “We all know how incredibly difficult the last 18 months have been.

“But it would have been so much tougher for many of us if hadn’t been for work of social enterprises across  the country. Social enterprises have stepped up to continue to provide services in challenging circumstances and often set up new services where required.

“Social enterprises have been at the heart of local communities and of Wales’ response to the pandemic. Our winners and finalists are changing Wales and the world in a positive way through the power of  social enterprise.”