A NATIONAL initiative is encouraging people to pick up a musical instrument and play.

Hexham’s Core Music is one of just three organisations in the North-East signed up to the Learn to Play Day, which sees music shops, teachers, venues and schools throughout the country offer free music lessons.

Supported by Jools Holland and run by charity Music for All, the scheme will take place on Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24.

The initiative has been held elsewhere in the country in previous years and has helped thousands of children pick up and play an instrument, many of whom had never played before.

Core Music director Mike Coleman has sent out an invitation to people in the Tyne Valley in the hope of inspiring the next generation of musicians.

He said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this year’s Learn to Play Day.

“It’s a great opportunity for people of all ages to come along and have a go on a variety of instruments and to join in some sessions as well. They are all free sessions, and with expert tuition and help.

“We hope to see lots of people here and we’ll be releasing our finalised programme very soon so watch out on our website and social media accounts.”

The free sessions are being held in partnership with the Musicians’ Union, the ‘Take It Away’ scheme and Making Music, and provided 10,000 sessions last year.

Famed musician Jools Holland, who is a patron of the Music for All chairty, said: “I’m delighted to lend my support to the national Learn to Play Day on March 23 and 24.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to share the joy of music, and this special event allows thousands to get involved as venues all over the country offer music lessons for free.”

Paul McManus, chief executive at Music for All, said: “While we all may have different tastes and preferred genres, there is no doubt that music is something that is universally loved around the world.

“Our Learn to Play Day events are all about spreading the joy of playing a musical instrument and inspiring those of all ages to take up something that will not only have health benefits for the future, but that also brings so many people together.”

Participating venues are still being added. To find out more about the scheme, visit www.musicforall.org.uk/learntoplayday.