DONT STOP THE MUSIC will air on 9th and 16th September at 9pm on Channel 4.

Internationally-renowned classical pianist James Rhodes is angry about the state of music education in Britain, and has a radical plan to reverse what he sees as years of neglect. In his view, kids are missing out, not just on one of life’s great pleasures, but on an activity proven to improve behaviour, creativity, teamwork – even basic literacy and numeracy. And we’re missing out on the next generation of talent.

When James says that music can change lives, he’s speaking from experience – after a troubled childhood, struggles with addiction, time spent in locked psychiatric institutions and several suicide attempts, playing the piano turned his life around. Now he’s an international concert pianist. But, he argues, kids up and down this country are missing out on the chance to have music change their lives too.

A new 2-part Channel 4 series – called Don’t Stop the Music – follows James as he trials an instrument amnesty in a primary school in Basildon, investigates the crisis, gathers allies and gears up to go nationwide. St Teresa’s is in special measures and had a music budget of precisely zero pounds. Its teachers are already stretched to the limit, determined to focus on numeracy and literacy and turn around the school’s academic record. But James wants to convince them that music lessons are the key to that goal, not a distraction from it. And he wants to show through direct action just what putting an instrument into the hands of a child can do.

At the same time as the series airs, a website and a partnership with Oxfam and Yodel will make it possible for the public to donate their unwanted instruments and get them to the schools in need.

Click here for Episode Guide

Prod Co: Fresh One
Executive Producer: Jeremy Lee
Channel 4 Commissioning Editor: John Hay


“From the outset, it is evident that Rhodes is a thoughtful and attentive pianist.”

Richard Whitehouse, International Piano