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Doncaster has enjoyed over seventy years of instrumental music teaching in its schools. In the 1930s, lunch-time and after-school violin lessons were introduced on a small scale. Now, the work of the Doncaster Music Service covers 113 schools across the Borough, and its specialist staff teach all band and orchestral instruments, guitar, recorder, piano, keyboard, steel pans and singing to over 5,900 pupils.


The aims of the Service are:

  • to help provide a rich and responsive music education for Doncaster children
  • to assist schools in their efforts to raise standards in music
  • to foster music as an educational and leisure pursuit in the local community at large
The Service believes that the opportunity to play a musical instrument should be available to every child, regardless of financial or social circumstances.

Each week, pupils from all over the Metropolitan Borough come to the William Appleby Music Centre in Danum Road, Doncaster to take part in one or more of the many activities, including orchestras, bands, guitar groups, recorder groups, choirs, and theory classes. The young people play music together, make new friends and, perhaps above all, have fun. Adult classes and pre-school groups are also popular. There is a place for everyone.

Over the years, the work of the Doncaster Music Service has become renowned for its excellence, and staff are committed to maintain and improve on the high standards they have set.

History of the Service

Instrumental music teaching in Doncaster schools had its beginnings as far back as 1932 when Arthur Allsop, a market gardener and talented violinist from Selby, was allowed to go into two Doncaster schools at the end of the school day to teach the violin to small groups of children. He died suddenly in1945, but by that time his work had grown to encompass other schools and had led to the formation of two orchestras, Beechfield Strings and its training orchestra, Doncaster Schools' Orchestra.

In 1946, the Local Education Authority appointed William Appleby, a young teacher from the then Doncaster Grammar School, as its first music organiser. A highly successful trainer of choirs, he subsequently became nationally known through his work as presenter of the BBC's Singing Together programme. (The late TV broadcaster Richard Whiteley mentions these in his book "Himoff!") Under his direction instrumental music flourished and in 1967 a Schools' Music Centre was established with Peter Bear as its Head.

William Appleby died in 1973 and in the following year, under Local Government reorganisation, Gerald Gentry was appointed as the Authority's Music Adviser.

He was succeeded in 1980 by Peter Bear, under whose direction the service has become nationally and internationally known for the excellence of its provision. Peter Bear retired in July 2001 from his position as Head of the Service. All pupils and staff wish him well.

The William Appleby Music Centre has been based at its current home since 1981, after out-growing the St.Sepulcre Gate building. The Danum Road site was originally Danum Girls Grammar School, and the Music Centre shared the building with Carr House Middle School until its closure in 1997. The ground floor now houses the Carr House Centre.