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It all started so innocently.

Back at the end of 2012, I was taking the dog for a walk when and idea popped into my head- I’d recently upgraded my home studio and had been encouraging students to develop their own musical ideas, and all concerned had been thoroughly enjoying the process.

How about, I mused, I get them all to collaborate and write a really cheesy Christmas song? Maybe put it out on iTunes? Give any money we make to charity?

How hard could it be?

Well, as it turned out, I’d had the idea far too late to do anything about it. But it just refused to go away. So come 2013, with the aid of my cover band singer and all-round astonishing vocal talent Matt Chubb, we decided to have another bash. This time, we’d got the project kicked off in September and managed to get a half dozen songs put together, as well as scoring an impromptu performance on BBC Radio Leicester’s Christmas show cortesy of veteran presenter (and upBeatles guitarist) Tony Wadsworth – sat in the back of the BBC van as thousands of shoppers milled around us, presumably wondering who the hell these two idiots were…

You can find this project here: www.jmguitartuition/shop.htm, or just type “Leicestershire Music Collective” into your iTunes search.

We made a bit of money for Syrian refugees, but nothing earth-shattering. Still, it had worked – we’d proven it could be done.

So for 2014, we went bigger and we went better. Firstly, I decided that our charity would be UNICEF – they’ve been around for years and know what they’re doing. The proliferation of smaller charities – well intentioned as they undoubtedly are – also means duplication of administrative structures and so on, effectively running the risk of lots of people trying to do the same thing but getting in each other’s way. So UNICEF seemed like a good bet, as they would have the experience to know how best to use whatever we could raise for them.

This time we went above and beyond my students, including local bands and musicians. Artists of note – The Bench That Rocked, A Short Dark Stranger, Mr Meaner, Ghostshift (featuring none other than the legendary Blayze Bayley on vocals, no less!) and Leicestershire rapper Jonezy. The album is available to check out here:

Local promoter Elisabeth Barker Carley of Dreaming In Colour Productions ( sorted out a venue and got the logistics together for a live performance just ahead of Christmas 2014, with several of my students performing their tracks live at central Leicester venue The Shed with the help of my covers band Dave The Rock Band – thanks to the generosity of everyone involved, we raised over £100 on the night alone.

So for this year, we’ve set the bar even higher – I’ve got more students writing songs, more contributing artists, and we’re getting on top of the promotional side a lot earlier. Songs are coming along in every style from blues to acoustic to thrash metal – this one is going to be the best yet!

Want to get involved?
You can:
a) Tell people – share this Facebook page, tweet about it using the hashtag ‪#‎TUNEICEF‬
b) Be on it – donate a track you’ve written
c) Be a part of someone else’s track – contribute vocals, drums, lyrics.. anything!
d) Post videos and pics of you performing and/ or recording your track to our Facebook page
What’s the point? Well:
-We raise some cash for UNICEF
-We get some exposure for talented young (and old) musicians that might not otherwise get it
-We have a giggle
So what’s to lose?