The story of the Benslow Music Instrumental Loan Scheme began with a letter to The Times newspaper in 1932.
It was written by Editha Knocker and Edith Croll, both music teachers, who were increasingly concerned at the difficulty students were having finding good instruments. The letter advertised their idea for a new scheme to help serious young musicians through the loan of violins and violas that were no longer being used.
Enlisting the help of eminent musicians of the day such as Sir Henry Wood, Professor E.J.Dent and Robert Mayer, as well as violin makers W.E Hill & Sons, gave strength and credibility to the scheme.
During the Second World War Edith and Editha moved to Glen Uig, Lochaillort, on the far west coast of Scotland. They maintained an interest in the Scheme which moved Hitchin, and became linked with the RMSA through Mary Ibberson.
The Rural Music Schools Association (RMSA) was an organisation founded by Mary Ibberson, a violinist and teacher, in 1929 to "promote music eduation for social benefit through the study and practice of music...amongst students of all ages".
Editha Knocker and Edith Croll were very involved in the Rural Music Schools Association, based at 'Little Benslow Hills', home of the Seebohm family, in Hitchin.
Mary Ibberson dedicated her life to the Rural Music Schools Association from 1929 until her retirement in 1962. Originally an organisation which taught music in centres around the UK, the RMSA became increasingly redundant when local authorities took over the provision of music tuition after the Second World War. Eventually only the headquarters based in Hitchin remained. These premises, known as Little Benslow Hills were left in perpetuity for the making of music by the Seebohm family. In 1986 financial difficulties resulted in a re-organisation to the present Benslow Music Trust. At the same time the 'Violin Loan Scheme' as it was known, was taken under the auspices of the Trust, and widened the range of instruments to include lower orchestral stringed instruments as well as woodwind.
The Benslow Music Instrument Loan Scheme, as it is now known today, has been in existence for over 80 years. It continues to help and inspire scores of young musicians from all ethnic backgrounds and all types of education.
Visit www.benslowmusic-ils.org for more information or call the Loan Scheme direct on 01462 420748.