Who would have thought that after a full week at school, the prospect of getting up for Music School on a Saturday morning would be such a positive one? However, choir first thing at 9am was just the wakeup call I needed and something I looked forward to for the three years I attended. Despite feeling a little behind some of the talented pupils at the school, having only started the bassoon when I was 14, I believe Music School enabled me to fulfil my true potential as a musician. Every week I was challenged and stretched and was able to experience being a member of a mixture of ensembles from trios to wind quintets. Although it wasn’t my favourite, receiving tuition on Grade 6 theory helped my study of A level music, a necessary evil nowadays if you are to progress in academic music. The culmination of my time at Music School was a performance of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, complete with a full orchestra. Aside from being my fondest memory, this was an invaluable opportunity for me as a musician, enabling me to give creative direction to a performance whilst boosting my confidence as a soloist. I remember the encouragement from staff during the preparation for the performance and, looking back, it was easy to take for granted the wealth of experience and talent that was offered by all the staff at the school. There is nothing better than sharing your passion for music with other people and this particular experience at music school stands out because I was able to perform to an audience of family and friends, with my fellow music schoolers supporting me.
Three years on, having graduated this summer from King’s College London with a degree in music, watching the home video of that performance makes me cringe. Although I would like to think my instrumental skills have improved whilst having lessons at the Royal Academy of Music, the ensemble skills that were nurtured at Music School provided me with a strong foundation on which to progress as a musician. I now enter the world of work, studying my PGCE in Secondary Music at the Institute of Education. It is highly fortuitous that to gain my Masters modules part of the assessment I had to rehearse a mixed group of young musicians, something I was given the opportunity to do as an older member at Music School. Engaging children through music in inner city London schools is not going to be an easy task, however it is something I am determined to succeed in. I will never forget the buzzy atmosphere of Music School on a Saturday morning as staff and students played, jammed and sang together. Hopefully this positive memory will continue to inspire me regardless of the challenges I may face in the classroom this year.
Former student – Oboe
Sheffield Music School was a wonderful and welcoming organisation to be part of, with fantastic staff. It boosted my confidence musically and socially. I gained fantastic experience in chamber music and solo performance.
I also enjoyed being encouraged to try things outside of my classical music comfort zone, including jazz and African drumming workshops.
Most of all, being at the Music School helped me to realise that I want to pursue a musical career and gave me the confidence to apply for an oboe performance degree at conservatoire. After being supported throughout the application process, including receiving feedback on my audition pieces in performance class, I was successful in my auditions and am now studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London!
The Sheffield Music School has been instrumental in shaping the musical exposure to both our children.
Eamonn started when he was 8 years old and it was the SMS who discovered him to have perfect pitch. Tutors at the SMS encouraged him on his violin where he had opportunities to play with different ensembles on a wide variety of music. It has been a stepping stone for him as he now attends the Junior Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester with double bass as his first study, and violin as his second.
Our other child, Maeve, continues to attend the SMS and is constantly inspired to play her cello in the intermediates. Not only has the SMS been important for her to develop musically, but socially too, as she has made some good friends with similar aspirations.
We continue to fully support the SMS - the tutors work tirelessly to maximise the potential of the pupils and while doing so, make music fun too. The music produced at the concerts is exceptional, where the children are able to showcase their talent and ability to a high standard.
I feel my two cello pupils who attend have gained so much enjoyment as well as musical benefits with a great team of enthusiastic very talented teachers. My younger pupil started at 8 and all her apprehensions were immediately dispelled when met by the junior coordinator Lucy Revis, who immediately took her under her wing and made her feel completely at ease. The older pupil has enjoyed making her way through junior, intermediate, and now senior, and has gained greatly from performance class and the excellent choir. It is all a very positive experience whatever their age and standard.
Parent and Director of Music at Mount St. Mary's College
The best thing about Sheffield Music School is the commitment it makes to producing well rounded musicians. The exceptional team of staff offers numerous opportunities which support the students in their progression through instrumental grades as well as music GCSE and A level exams. Students are encouraged to explore harmony and melody through improvisation, develop their ear through a range of general musicianship activities and choirs, as well as open their minds to new genres.
I am very interested to see the many new activities being offered, and in particular, feel that the opportunity for SMS students to develop their conducting skills in a supportive environment is fantastic as this is a skill which is rarely taught to under 18s.
My other favourite thing about SMS is the performance classes. Gaining confidence through performing is so important, and the various reflections and feedback from other students and staff allow the performers to consider alternative ways of approaching their piece, ultimately leading to thoughtful and intelligent music making.
Thank you to everyone at Sheffield Music School for creating such a warm environment in which our young musicians can prosper.
kevin mcdermott and susie reid
Our two kids studied at the Sheffield Music School for many years. The standard of instruction was excellent with approachable, specialist and totally dedicated teachers, all of whom worked extremely hard. The School also acted as a kind of social club - our kids made many friends in their time at SMS. It is no exaggeration to say that the School helped to instil a life-long love of music among its students, and this alone is a great plus!