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Student Testimonials - Where are they now?

We strive to foster a love of music making for all of our students. The transferable skills learnt when rehearsing and performing in a GM ensemble will help you on your chosen career path.

Let's hear how GM became an integral part of a young musicians life from some past students.

Where Are They Now?


Edi May

Edi is currently studying for a BMus (Hons) Jazz at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and has just completed his third year of four; he is studying Tenor Sax but plays many instruments including clarinet, piano and recorder. He was a member of various Gloucestershire County Music Groups in a period of over six years!

Answering 5 questions we get an idea of Edi's progression and growth as a youth musician, and his influences in music and study.

Which GM County Music Group(s) were you involved in?

"Brookfield Music Centre (Y8 - Y13) - I still come back and play whenever I can and run Jazz workshops when asked! Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra and Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra."

How did you find out about the opportunities, why did you join?

"We had moved to the County and were looking for some way for me to continue with music as I had done a bit in Bath, and the first thing we found was a kid's music centre - Brookfield. I started with clarinet and then saxophone when Dave and Mo Currie came back to BMC, and met Steve Legge through jam sessions with Phil Mercer and subsequently joined GYWO and GYJO. "

What were the highlights of your time with these groups?

" First thing that comes to mind with GYJO is going to the Royal Albert Hall twice in 2016 - once with the massed ensemble and then with GYJO, and then also going to Ronnie's in 2017 to workshop and perform. GYWO highlights were the tours to the Black Forest, and Paris in 2017 which was the summer between finishing school and starting at Conservatoire - a great tour. Badgeworth Church Fete with BMC jazz and wind bands was always really good fun, and a real highlight was performing the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto at BMC as a "send-off"!"

Who were your influences at GM?

"First would be Dave Currie who was a massive influence, along with Mo his wife, who both helped me make the connections that lead me towards University - I have a lot to be thankful for. Beccy Busuttil encouraged and convinced me to play more classical clarinet for which I am very grateful, Phil Mercer was a great influence as was Matthew Morris who helped me play jazz, not just think I was playing jazz! I must also list Pete Martin and Steve Legge who were both so encouraging and supportive."

When did you realise you wanted to study music at University/Conservatoire level?

"I think when we moved to Gloucester; music was something that I always did, but when we moved to Gloucester I realised that it was most of what I did and I joined as many GM groups as I could, and then the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as soon as I could. Brookfield was always a huge boost - with so many connections I quickly progressed into other groups, working with like-minded people. I still play and work with friends I made through GM groups, whereas I am in contact with maybe 1 old school friend! When it came to choosing University/Conservatoire it was always music, never music or something else.

What do you want to do after University?

"My long-term aim is to own my own jazz club or venue, and to be able to support a scene with students and a good community feel - that is my aim in life! Maybe a post grad course in Germany, or staying in Birmingham and studying composition or pedagogy."


Hanna Pearcey

Hanna is currently studying for a BA joint Honours in Music and German at Birmingham University and has just completed her first year of four - her 3rd year being study abroad. Hanna is an oboist and sometimes percussionist too! She was a member of various Gloucestershire County Music Groups stretching as far back as Y4!

Answering 5 questions we get an idea of Hanna's progression and growth as a youth musician, and her influences in music and study.

Which GM County Music Group(s) were you involved in?

"I started at Tewkesbury Music Centre in Y4 on recorder, but when I moved up to secondary school this was just too difficult for me to get to on a Friday afternoon, so eventually I joined Brookfield Music Centre in Y8 or 9. I also played with Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra between 2016 and 2019."

How did you find out about the opportunities, why did you join?

"My school friend Abi Bennett was already at Brookfield, and suggested that I try it out, as did my teacher Caron de Burgh, who felt that playing in different ensembles would be good for me. From there I progressed into Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra in September 2016, whilst staying at BMC until University."

What were the highlights of your time with these groups?

"Whilst with GYO, Sleeping Beauty and the massive Cor Anglais solo, and some beautiful pieces of music and repertoire. Tewkesbury Abbey concerts with GYO are a memory. Duality Winds with Chris Gibbons at RBC is a huge memory - he was great with advice and never told me how to play, just advised on approach. My highlights whilst at BMC are playing Beethoven 6 first movement with GISE at MFY, and also playing in the Jazz Band whilst recovering throughout 2017 which was really fun as it was so different. Dressing up in bright colours for a concert with the Salvation Army also sticks in my mind!"

Who were your influences at GM?

"Phil Storer was probably one of the first GM tutors that I met, and he was really funny and got me interested, especially as I did the CMT Summer Courses on which he tutored. Beccy Busuttil has always been there as a constant presence who understands what I can do, what I have achieved, and helped me achieve the balance of stamina once I came back to BMC after my illness."

When did you realise you wanted to study music at University/Conservatoire level?

"It was quite late honestly. I went through GCSEs and A levels and narrowed it down; but being in the GM groups helped me decide, and then at A level thought that music would be something that I could combine with German to keep my options open."

What do you want to do after University?

"My ideal would be to get a spot in a big orchestra or in the pit in the West End - that would be fab! I am taking performance as my major for Y2 and will be spending Y3 in Germany as part of my degree."


Beth Taylor

Beth is currently studying for a BMus (Hons) at Birmingham University and has just completed her second year; she is a violist and pianist and was a member of various Gloucestershire County Music Groups in a period of over six years!

Answering 5 questions we get an idea of Beth's progression and growth as a youth musician, and her influences in music and study.

Which GM County Music Group(s) were you involved in?

"Brookfield Music Centre (Y9 - Y13) - I still come back and play whenever I can, Gloucestershire Youth Sinfonia and Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra (Y12 & 13)."

How did you find out about the opportunities, why did you join?

"A friend was a member of the Forest of Dean Area Wind Band and I went with her as a helper one Saturday morning; subsequently Mum looked up other musical opportunities in the County and I joined Brookfield. Liam Jurgens was also at BMC and he suggested GYS to me. GYS were invited to join the GYO 2015 tour which I absolutely loved, and from that time my goal was to get into GYO. Joint rehearsals with BMC and 5Vs introduced me to Jon Trim - conductor of GYO."

What were the highlights of your time with these groups?

" The 2015 tour to Germany and the friends I made on it, and running the String Ensemble at BMC, which gave me an opportunity to almost teach and work with players outside of school, and gave me an insight into becoming a music teacher in the future. But probably the social side of BMC was always important especially as I was nearly 14 when I joined and at an all-girls school, so the chance to mix and make friends in a social group outside of school was really refreshing! I keep in touch with my friends from the music centre more than my school friends, and continue to play with many of them in orchestras and quartets."

Who were your influences at GM?

"That's a really tough question as my actual instrumental teachers weren't involved in Gloucestershire Music. My viola teacher Dan Neville was a huge influence as an incredible violist and a really nice person who never put me under pressure, just encouraged me to enjoy playing. In the County Music Groups Beccy Busuttil was an influence not so much as a teacher at first as she didn't conduct the groups I was in, but became an influence as a friend, and then Director and conductor of BMC."

When did you realise you wanted to study music at University/Conservatoire level?

"I think probably the 2015 Germany tour was when I thought I wanted to study music at University to become a music teacher."

What do you want to do after University?

"Probably a Masters in Musicology or Renaissance music, and then I might do a PhD! I'm really interested in music therapy and the beneficial effects of ensemble playing. But eventually I would like to teach and work in music therapy."


Members' Stories

From shy 7 year old to solo performer in a non-musical family, to solo performer playing five instruments, Seth Bye tells us about his musical journey that started, and still continues 10 years later, with Gloucestershire Music. 

The early years

As a toddler I loved being taken to the music sessions that were run in a local village hall and I was often the only boy to sit and concentrate while the others were running around!

When I started primary school I was very quiet, fairly withdrawn, and didn’t really join in with the other boys as I wasn’t interested in kicking a ball around the playground.  When I was seven years old the school sent home a letter asking if anyone wanted to learn to play the violin.  Much to the surprise of my mum, who thought I’d be to shy to join the group, I said yes!

Miss Henderson, from Gloucestershire Music, started a group of six complete violin beginners at Ampney Crucis Primary School in Cirencester along with a few cellos. A violin was hired, also from Gloucestershire Music, and my journey began.

I remember on one occasion the peripatetic tutors organised a day when all string players from local schools got together to form a mini orchestra.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day and as a result joined the Five Valleys Music Centre.  At the Centre I not only learnt about playing in groups and orchestras but also about socialising with children aged four to 18 and being in the environment of a ‘big school’.

 For the first term my Mum sat with me at the back of the room because I was scared about moving between rooms!  This prepared me for the move to secondary school and taught me lots about social skills.  The Centre also provided a good introduction to music theory.

I was soon eager to stand up in front of the whole primary school to perform – as long as I had a violin in my hand I found a new confidence in myself.

In my final year at primary school I was the only advanced player left and was granted a bursary so that I could continue with solo lessons.  At this stage I had passed my grade 3 violin and was also started to learn the viola and piano.

Moving to secondary school

From there I went to Farmors School, and although I was still quite shy I had no hesitation in being the only year seven to join the school orchestra and to sit next to the other viola player, who was a strapping 18 year old!  We joked about being the sorcerer and his apprentice!

At 13 I stayed in Devon for a week long inspirational folk music course run by Joe Broughton (of the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Urban Folk Quartet).  After that I joined two adult folk groups and a strings group locally.  I also taught myself to play the accordion and mandolin with help from musicians I was meeting socially.  I then helped set up and run the folk group at Five Valleys Music Centre.

I also rent a double bass from Gloucestershire Music, on which I have taught myself enough to be able to use it in my A Level music recordings.

I’m now aiming for grade 8 piano, violin and possibly viola by Christmas and then a gap year touring Ireland, soaking up folk music, and, of course, I’m taking A Level music and music technology.  After that I have to decide which course/conservatoire to apply for in 2015.

My biggest influences

Of course, the first person has to be Miss Henderson – after all, she kicked all of this off!
Jonathan Trim was my idol in fact my choice of secondary school almost depended entirely on where Mr Trim could give my violin lessons!

Farmors School music department have been exceptional in their encouragement and support.  Tony Frewer, Head of Music, has an extraordinary knowledge of music, skills and enthusiasm.  I’ve also had patient and constant support in learning the violin from Helen Godfrey, also part of the music department at Farmors School.

Joe Broughton has also been a big influence with his passionate violin playing, boundless energy and teaching at Folk World.

And the future

Without Gloucestershire Music none of this would have ever started as none of our family are at all musical or have any knowledge of violins!  I have been going to Five Valley Music Centre for 10 years now and the staff are a part of my life.  They’ve influenced my whole life and development, and I cannot begin to describe how many ways this has shaped the person I am now!  We certainly couldn’t have started the whole process without being able to hire instruments from GM.

I have gone from being a shy seven year old to a solo performer, happy doing radio interviews, over the last 10 years.  It’s not purely about technical ability to play violin.  The process is also about social and psychological developments that have evolved along the way.

School work is also my passion – worth setting the alarm an hour early for to practise every morning, including weekends.

I’m involved in many local groups:
•    Five Valleys Orchestra – hopefully soon to be on YouTube – look out for us.
•    Cirencester Philharmonic Orchestra
•    Occasional support for small orchestras e.g. Wotton Bassett Philharmonic, Stroud Music Makers
•    Helping local primary schools
•    Occasional church organ playing
•    Raising money for charities by hosting ceilidhs

I also record, write and perform independently, why not check me out on Youtube, as well performing in all sorts of venues as part of a folk duo with Katie Griffin which can be seen here
I recently did an interview with Radio Gloucestershire which can also be heard on Youtube


From primary school lessons to the National Children's Brass Band of Great Britain

Jack Lythaby, a Year 10 pupil at Lakers School in Coleford, started to learn the Tenor Horn when he was 10 through lessons at his local primary school.  The lessons were provided through Gloucestershire Music (www.gloucestershiremusic.co.uk) and the instrument was loaned by Lydbrook Band.  After four months Jack joined Lydbrook Training Band, and his parents didn’t believe the band’s conductor, Robert Morgan MBE, when he said that their lives would change if he really took to it.  He was so right.

Jack is now 14 and his interest in music, particularly brass bands, has evolved and increased and he now plays not just for Lydbrook Training, but also Bream Silver Band and Gloucestershire Youth Brass Band (another Gloucestershire Music enterprise, supported by the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association).

In November 2013, on the suggestion of Robert Morgan, Lydbrook Training Band MD, Jack auditioned for the National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain in Salford, Manchester.  He passed and was invited to join them on their summer course at Repton School during July 2014.  The course was run for a week, and during this time all the children in attendance received tutorage from some of the country’s top brass players from the famous Black Dyke Band.

We asked Jack about his experience with NCBBGB and what his highlights were:

What did you play during your audition?  Was it a nerve wracking experience?

For my first audition I had to play a piece from a list that the organisers sent to me.  I played The Ashgrove by H. Round and I also had to play scales and do some sight reading.  That was just to become approved for the course.  When I got to Repton, I had to audition again to determine what seat I got (there are three horns in a typical brass band; solo, first and second – in NCBBGB there are two players on each seat).  For this audition I played Iona by W. A. Allison, plus scales and sight reading again.  I was given the position of First Horn 1 so I was very happy.  Going away for a week with people you don’t know may sound nerve wracking, but really it wasn’t.  I was really looking forward to it and I soon made lots of new friends

What are your best memories of the course?

I really enjoyed playing the music that had been chosen, and meeting the composer of one of the pieces (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).  Having an expert team of tutors really helped make the course enjoyable, exciting and fun.

Would you recommend this to other young brass and percussion players?

Definitely.  The opportunity of being part of this band was one I am very grateful to have had and I feel that it has definitely helped me progress and fed my appetite for more.

The National Children’s Brass Band is for children aged up to 14.  Whilst in Repton, Jack also auditioned for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and has since found out he was successful in achieving the standard they require.  He now has to wait for all the regional auditions to be completed to find out whether he will be invited to join them on their 2015 courses ….. watch this space!


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