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In late 2012 James came up with the idea of having all his students collaborate on writing a Christmas song, with the intention of releasing it digitally over iTunes and the proceeds going to charity. Some students could contrtibute riffs and rhythm parts, some could do leads and solos, and the bassists and keyboard players could add their parts in as well. Drums would be provided by our good friend and outstanding drum teacher Steve Ward of Instrumental Music, and vocals would be handled by the singers of Guilty Pleasures and Dave The Rock Band.. what could go wrong?

Well, the fact that we didn’t even come up with the idea until December – far too late to actually do anything about it. Oops.

Fast forward to September 2013 and we decided to put things into practice- we wound up with six tracks, an article in the Leicester Mercury and and an impromptu live acoustic performance on BBC Radio Leicester in the middle of the Christmas shopping frenzy! The whole thing raised money for Syrian refugees, and was a limited success – some great music was made, and alot of fun was had, but unfortunately little money was raised due to the difficulty involved in raising awareness of the project. You can find Songs For Syria 2013 on iTunes and on the blog.

Nonetheless, we’d proved we could do it, so in 2014 we had another bash. This time we started things earlier – July, in fact!- and everyone got in on the act. We had everything from jazzy blues and guitar pop to banjo-laden heavy metal with slide guitar and operatic breakdown to orchestral heavy metal and even a synth-based Robot Love Story! Not only did almost every student write and record a track, we had plenty of contributions from local artists… and we can safely say this is the only album you’ll ever find which has former Iron Maiden frontman on one track and a seven year old girl on the next!

This time the money went to UNICEF, one of the largest and best organised chairities currently active so we knew that the money would be well used, and the project culminated in a gig at Leicester’s renowned Shed venue which raised over £100!

There are far too many people to thank for the succes of the 2014 project, but amongst many are Matt Chubb, Elisabeth Barker-Carley, Andy Jones, Steve Ward, Charlotte Bond, Chris Slater, The Bench That Rocked, A Short Dark Stranger, and many, many more – you know who you are and so do we!

Following the success of 2014’s project, we’re making this an annual institution… but we needed a better name. Something short (for Twitter) and easily memorable. Tunes For Unicef? And thus was born #TUNEICEF!

We need publicity, publicity and more publicity to make this project work, so get tweeting, sharing and posting using the hashtag #TUNEICEF… raise money for charity and support some astonishing young talent while you’re at it. Everyone wins!