The Northern School of Music started life as the Matthay School of Music (Manchester Branch) in 1920. It was founded by a lady called Hilda Collens, a pupil of pianist and pedagogue Tobias Matthay. Instead of simply teaching piano music one-to-one, Hilda reckoned more use would be made of the opportunity to study a holistic music programme with a view to properly training the next generation of music teachers.
So that's what she did, in a studio above a shop on Deansgate with one piano and nine students. The school flourished and just over a decade later it had premises on Oxford Rd, with an Old Students Association, a Junior School, courses in Speech and Elocution, it ran a summer school for music teachers and performers, and generally was fulfilling its purpose to a pretty high standard with low budget.
That became a problem, however. It received no local council support, being a private institution, so in 1943 it incorporated as a public company, the Northern School of Music. It could therefore receive grants and further support from local councils.
It continued to grow, now with hundreds of students in 1950s. In 1952 it was granted the powers to award its own degrees (students previously had to take exams with at the Royal Academy of Music in London), and was performing more and more, even branching into opera and plays at the Lesser Free Trade Hall.
From the 1950s-early 1970s it was working with the Royal Manchester College of Music and local councils to create a new music training college. Hilda Collens had died in 1955 and the ex pupil turned secretary Ida Carroll had been made principal. The conversations and planning to create the new school took nearly 20 years until finally the Northern School and Royal Manchester finished up and put all its efforts into the new Northern College of Music, later to become the Royal Northern College of Music.
Biography added : 20th August 2020
by Heather Roberts