Updated: Jul 29
Twang Guitars Ltd,
Twang Music Academy Ltd,
The Twang Music Foundation.
This year, we established and registered a charitable foundation with the goal of providing economically disadvantaged children in local schools with accessible music tuition.
Our foundation aims to make a difference by offering high-quality music workshops, one-to-one music lessons, clubs, and summer schools.
During the past few months, we have been collaborating with Alexandra Junior School in Penge. Our efforts have involved supplying musical instruments to the school, allowing students to practice their skills and fully engage in their musical education.
We have donated a total of 19 guitars and violins, refurbished their existing instruments, and organized rehearsals for a school choir. Francesca, Elvire and Alessandra have been running regular sessions with the children in the choir and recently showcased the children's talents at the school fair on July 1st, 2023.
Francesca leading the Choir at the Alexandra School fair on 1st July 2023
In the upcoming school year, we plan to equip Alexandra Junior School's music room with band equipment, enabling us to conduct Rock School courses and provide one-to-one tuition to students. Once this setup is established and running smoothly, we intend to extend our services to other schools in the area.
To sustain our efforts, we are actively engaged in continuous fundraising initiatives. These include hosting events, encouraging instrument donations, and soon, selling charity merchandise.
We have successfully organized a fundraising recital with our academy students, at the very stately Charlton house and our "Jam in the Park" fundraising events at the Homestead Cafe in Beckenham Place Park, which will be held every month until September 2023. These Jam events offers a platform for local musicians of all ages and abilities to come together and share their music, inviting everyone to participate or simply enjoy the performances.
In the attached pictures, you can see Nadim playing the guitar and Shaggsy on the saxophone at our event on June 18th. Below is a photo of Alpaca Attack, a fantastic covers band formed by parents from Alexandra Junior School who also contribute to fundraising for Alexandra school.
How I Started Playing Music and Formed the Twang Group of Companies Now, let me share a personal story about how my journey with music began.
Playing musical instruments has always been a passion of mine, initially sparked by singing at school, in church choirs and Scout gangshows. My introduction to playing an instrument came through learning the cornet in the Salvation Army. However, it was the incredible music of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, ELO, Rush, and others that truly inspired me.
At the age of 13, I purchased my first electric guitar, which turned out to be quite a terrible instrument. Admittedly, it was a £25 purchase from a junk shop! It took some time for me to realize that it was unplayable, leading me to save up and buy a better one. I was raised by my Grandma, so we couldn't really afford guitar lessons. So I taught myself how to play, relying on a Beatles book as a guide to learning chords and progressions and listening over and over again to guitar parts on records.
It's so much easier to learn these days from the internet!
I was so enthusiastic about learning the guitar that I would rush home from school to practice. Once I grasped a few chords, it didn't take long for me to join a band with some of my school friends. Those were exciting times!
My first guitar amplifier was an Orange 100 watt valve amp monster which I bought in Macari's in the West End of London. It was so heavy I had to push it home in a borrowed supermarket trolley and it was so loud that it could shake the porcelain figures off my Grandma's mantlepiece downstairs!
My musical journey began during the late 1970s, a time when many people were picking up electric guitars, forming bands, and dreaming of stardom. It was a musically interesting and exhilarating era, shaped by the Punk and New Wave movements.
The image attached captures my first proper gig in the function room of The Orange Tree Pub in Friern Barnet, back in 1979 when I was just 15 years old.
You can spot me on the left, playing the bass and sporting fashionable dungarees, thanks to Dexy's Midnight Runners who were in the charts back then!
Over the years, I have been singing and playing in numerous bands, theatrical productions, and musical projects.
When I established Twang Guitars music shop in 2004, I made a promise to myself, based on my prior experiences, to never sell an instrument or equipment that isn't fit for purpose.
Our top priority is customer satisfaction and encouragement and we take pride in our outstanding reputation, which is reflected in our excellent Google reviews.
Initially, in addition to running the shop, I personally taught guitar lessons for many years. As the demand grew overwhelming, I founded Twang Music Academy in 2010. We recruited local teachers, some of whom continue to teach with us to this day. Initially focusing on guitar tuition, we expanded to teach various instruments, a practice that continues today. Currently, we have 16 teachers providing over 200 lessons per week across 14 different instruments.
I have always been mindful of those who can't afford music lessons. We have sponsored and supported many talented and deserving young musicians with lessons and discounts on musical instruments, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in music and the arts.
The desire to do more to help others less fortunate led me to establish a charity, which felt like a natural progression to our business.
Our charity's ethos is centred around providing opportunities for making music to those who may not have access otherwise, all while having fun along the way.
Since its inception, we have received very positive responses, support and generous donations from a wide range of people, including monetary contributions and new and used musical instruments.
The Demise in the Number of High Street Music Shops
It deeply saddens me whenever I hear about the closure of music shops. Online sales have caused many shops around the country to shut down - even established businesses with decades of history and goodwill have been forced to close.
Music shops are a valuable asset to our communities, not merely retail outlets; they serve as community hubs, offering valuable instrument advice, bringing joy, fostering connections among musicians, and helping individuals network and improve their skills.
To illustrate this, we often have older people dropping in for a chat about music and often share their fascinating life stories and anecdotes.
At Twang, our staff consider each other not only as colleagues, but also as good friends. We enjoy working together and supporting and encouraging musicians of all ages and backgrounds. It is indeed a privilege to work with such an inspired, committed and enthusiastic bunch of people with such boundless energy and fun. As Groucho Marx once said, "it's a business doing pleasure!"
I kindly urge you to support your local high street music shop and, if possible, consider making a donation to our charity or get involved in our fun charitable events. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that the love of music reaches those who need it.
Pictured here is Samuel age 10 who performed for at the Twang Music Academy Summer Recital at Charlton House which raised money for The Twang Music Foundation.