MUSIC education in rural areas could soon be getting a digital boost, following trials of the use of Skype in Selby schools.

Heidi Johnson, director of the youth music development charity NYMAZ, said: “Children living in rural areas currently miss out when it comes to music education. The use of digital technology could put an end to that inequality and it’s our collective responsibility to ensure it happens.”

The pilot took place at several schools across North Yorkshire including Selby Community Primary School.

Due to the rural nature of North Yorkshire, peripatetic teachers spend much time travelling between schools. The report highlights that if travel were removed, the cost saving would be the equivalent to an additional 4.2 full time members of staff.

It explored low-cost methods of providing instrumental tuition remotely, based around the Roland VR-3EX video and audio mixer and streamer, along with three cameras (to allow pupils and teachers to see different views, including close-ups) microphones, and Skype.

The report found that this method is hugely beneficial to children learning musical instruments in rural communities.

79.5 per cent of parents and carers would not have tried to find instrumental lessons for their children had this opportunity not been available.

The online lessons were popular, with 70.1 per cent of pupils saying they enjoyed them ‘very much’ and 74.1 per cent wishing to continue to learn their instruments ‘very much’ or ‘quite a lot’.

Ms Johnson said: “It’s an incredible step forward for music education. Music teachers in rural areas could spend far less time on the road between schools and more time teaching, meaning that more children would be able to receive lessons – in particular those in very small or very rural schools who currently miss out – as well as having access to a greater choice of instruments.”

The research was led by NYMAZ, along with music education practitioners from the North Yorkshire County Council Music Hub, researchers from the University of Hull and technologists from UCan Play.