School History

Reginald Dixon's (Blackpool Tower Ballroom) vision to encourage young keyboard musicians to become actively involved in live public musical performance and enjoy making music lies at the heart of the North and Midlands School of Music.

The Lancashire School of Music (LSM), set up by Reginald Dixon set up in Blackpool, and later in Manchester, held annual concerts and competitions for young people from across the UK. When Reg died in 1985, his colleague John Dickinson of Bispham, Blackpool, carried Reg's vision and work forward until his death in 1990, introducing a Department of Education-recognised graded examination scheme. A range of music diplomas including Performance, Thesis, Composition, Music Technology and Music Management were offered.

After John's death, the LSM lay dormant for almost two years. In 1992 some former LSM committee members decided to launch the North and Midlands School of Music, established with different aims and objectives, but grounded on the principles of Reg's institution.

In 1993, letters were sent out to 28 former members of the LSM inviting them to join the NMSM, allowing their qualifications to be transfered to the new organisation. With a unique framework and examination scheme, putting members and examination candidates first, by 2002 the School had grown to well over 250 members of both professional and amateur musicians, and had become a respected establishment in music education.

In 1999, the Association of Church Musicians and the London Academy of Music became part of the NMSM and in 2001, the NMSM established a close working relationship with the Australian Society of Musicology and composition.

Having been Principal of the School since its inception, in 2004 Professor Dr Colin Parsons retired from the post to allow 'new blood' to bring in new skills and experiences. Dr Stephen Oxley took over as head of the NMSM in 2006, establishing a new 'layer' of Advisory Executive Management. He brought in two new patrons - Lord Warleigh of Devon, Sir David Lumsden. Malcolm Archer, an honorary fellow of the NMSM for many years, also became a patron of the School.

In April 2008, David Smalley took over the position of Principal and Dr Carol Williams (USA) and Donald MacKenzie (London) were appointed as patrons. Following a postal ballot, the School decided not to pursue QCA status as members wished it to remain independent and be able to offer its specialised academic assessments.

In December 2009, the NMSM opted to modernise its structure, and Prof Dr Ian Tracey (Livepool Cathedral) became the School's new President.

In 2013, Dr Carol Williams took over as School President, in 2016, Malcolm Archer became the School's new President and in 2019, Elizabeth Stratford took over the top role. The position of President is currently vacant.