Northern School of Music (1920-1973), music school, Manchester

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Northern School of Music (1920-1973), music school, Manchester

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Hilda Collens had studied privately with Tobias Matthay, and was sympathetic to Walter Carroll's campaigning for the wider teaching of music in Manchester elementary schools. She gave individual piano lessons and taught at Sale Grammar School for Girls, but wanted to put Matthay's principles and her own ideas into practice for the teaching of muscianship. Accordingly on September 22nd 1920 Hilda Collens opened a school with the idea of broadening the scope of the Matthay training. The Manchester Branch of the Matthay School of Music was a private enterprise, supported by the fees of the pupils. Although superficially a private commercial enterprise, in practice and in spirit the Matthay School was nothing of the sort - although it suffered from the suspicions of its detractors that Hilda Collens was enjoying considerable financial gain. The initial years brought concern for the stability of the school, and were dogged by constant financial and other pressures. These were highlighted by the outbreak of war - the school was particularly affected by the evacuation of children and young people undertaking national service, and enrolments declined sharply. Accordingly Hilda Collens put the school on a public basis, and in September 1943 the Matthay School, Manchester branch, formally became a public institution under the name The Northern School of Music. The Board of Trade issued a licence to enable the certificate of incorporation to omit the word "limited" (although the NSM was a company limited by guarantee). All profits were to be ploughed back into the support of music-making - a practice followed by Hilda Collens from the beginnings of the school. On the death of Miss Collens in 1956, Ida Carroll was confirmed as acting Principal. It was decided that continuity rather than radical changes of policy would assist the negotiations then in progress with Manchester Corporation which were considering the adoption of the NSM as a Manchester institution. An approach had been made by the Royal Manchester College of Music with a view to amalgamation, but despite the precarious financial situation at the NSM its Council felt "that the two institutions differed too widely in character, personality, and method for a satisfactory connection to be possible". By 1957 negotiations with Manchester had resulted in concrete proposals as to the syllabus and management, and financial support; this meant that in April when another meeting was held at the invitation of the Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University with representatives from the RMCM, the NSM representatives again dismissed the suggestions of amalgamation or closer co-operation with the RMCM. Ida Carroll was appointed Principal in 1958, and although the school continued to carry a loss student numbers and support were still encouragingly high. Unfortunately the wider future of musical education was now in doubt, and the NSM showed its willingness to be involved in a scheme larger than the initially-proposed takeover by the RMCM. A draft scheme for a new college was prepared, and negotiations began (see below). Finances: The early years of the Matthay School were precarious financially: it was totally dependent on the fees of the pupils, and the staff did not receive a salary but were paid termly tuition fees (in 1923


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