SOCIETY needs the arts and the arts need society.

That’s the message coming out from music teachers across West Cumbria this week.

Most are self employed and have seen their incomes disappear overnight, although already many are turning to digital means of teaching pupils.

And as one local guitar teacher said this week – Maryport’s Dean Newton – in the current period of isolation, art and entertainment is as important as ever to keep people entertained, and help mental health in difficult times.

Dean is well known throughout West Cumbria, being a member of the band AWOL, a solo artist and with his own three-piece, the Dean Newton Trio. He also performs in the band in local amateur operatic productions, and teaches guitar lessons.

But like many in his situation, his work dried up overnight.

“You spend all year trying to develop relationships with venues, and then they all closed down in one night,” said Dean.

“I teach one day a week at Whitehaven School, but that has gone and I am self employed so I am not getting paid.

“A lot of people don’t realise that when people are isolated, the first thing they turn to is the arts and entertainment... films, music, podcasts, youtube and all kinds of things.

“We have creative people and we can do our jobs, but we can’t if we can’t put a roof over our heads.”

Already Dean is one of a number of music teachers in West Cumbria offering lessons through digital channels. But he admits, not everyone is tech savvy enough to be able to take advantage of the online lessons.

“My guess is that I will keep maybe three quarters of my pupils. I have had a few today who are looking at sorting it out so they can have their lessons

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“Some people are quite autonomous and can get away with it, but some people prefer that interaction and being shown physically how to do it. And you can’t play together at the same time.

“It is a chance to learn an instrument doing something productive. That is the message I am trying to get across to people.

“It is early days and people are still a bit unsure as to what will happen. A lot of people view music lessons as a bit of a luxury. They deal with all their priorities first, but then maybe a bit of normality will resume.”

Dean, who graduated from the London College of Music in 2011 with a degree, gigs live on average twice a week throughout the year, although it can be more some weeks, especially with the Dean Newton Trio.

“We had a lot of festivals booked this year. We have got gigs right up to the end of the year, so with a bit of luck some will stay back on,” he said.

“That is the most difficult thing for me - it is not the financial side of it. When you have got gigs coming in you look forward to them. Suddenly you find yourself having to fill this surplus time that you are not used to having.”

Dean’s album with the Dean Newton Trio – he wrote the songs himself – can be found on major music sites including Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.

To get in touch with Dean for an - at present digital - music lesson, he can be contacted through his website, at