Category: TAMT

TAMC Head to the Albert Hall!

Thornbury Area Music Centre choir are heading to the Royal Albert Hall in London.

It’s not the Proms, but ‘The Scratch Youth Messiah’. Alongside youth choirs from across the country, TAMC membes will be performing Handel’s Messiah, from scratch (ie, without prior rehearsal!). There will bea chance to learn the music at TAMC, of course, but hundreds of musicians will converge on the Albert Hall for a special, one-off performance.

The organisers, Really Big Chorus, have written:

Winner of ‘Best Classical Music Education Initiative’ in the 2015 Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, the Scratch Youth Messiah was launched in 2013 and is a stress-free and enjoyable way to introduce young singers (under 25s) to the most famous choral work in the UK choral tradition. A unique formula allows choirs to sing as much as they can comfortably manage and listen to other young choirs singing the rest, with the backing of a professional orchestra and soloists.

The basic requirement is that you sing just three core choruses: ‘And the glory of the Lord’, ‘Hallelujah’ and the final ‘Amen’. After that you can sing as much as you feel able to. Learn the music in your own time, then join others on the day at the Royal Albert Hall for a morning rehearsal and a thrilling afternoon performance.

The Scratch Youth Messiah is organised by ‘Concerts from Scratch’, the team behind Really Big Chorus, with more than 40 years’ experience of promoting large-scale choral concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, notably our flagship event, Messiah from Scratch.


Let’s Play Scheme Big Concert!

Wow, what a year it’s been for the Let’s Play scheme. It seems like we’ve only just started (the first classes were in January) and they’ve reached the end of the year.

But we’ve certainly packed in a lot. In March the students made their first public appearance with great enthusiasm. At Thornbury Baptist Church parents were given short demonstrations and performances, led by the children, on clarineos, flutes, pbones and violins (you can find out more by clicking the link). Then, just a few weeks ago the pbone students were treated to a masterclass from the brilliant Bone Appetit Trombone quartet from Wales.

What do the classes involve? The 45 minute sessions are group lessons which feature clapping, rhythm, call-and-response games, warm-up techniques as well as instruction on the instruments themselves. After two terms of tuition the various groups had made excellent progress. The trombones were marching around the playground whilst playing, the violins were playing confidently with 1st fingers and the bow, whilst the clarinets and flutes had learnt a number of tunes and their G-major scale. All of the work is backed-up by online music resources, including backing tracks to help the children work at home between sessions.



Their performance at the TAMC concert on the 11th July at Castle School was a fantastic showcase. The violins began the concert, first with a sparkling performance of the ‘Wallace and Grommit Theme’ (a favourite with the group), and followed this with ‘Here it comes’ – a piece featuring the first finger in the left hand and some specially-devised food-based rhythms in the middle section. The trombones then made a surprise entrance from the back of the room, marching in to their ‘Hot Cross Bones’. Taking their colourful instruments to the stage, they wowed the audience with ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ as well as a piece played as a round. The last group showcased was the woodwind group. Having learned a whole octave of notes, the players had been working in smaller groups, so quartets and quintets of players took it in turns to perform well-known tunes such as ‘Ode to Joy’ and ‘London Bridge’ with confidence and projection. Well done to everyone.

Then the Grand Finale – ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen! WIth the Let’s Play pupils onstage, and the TAMC Intermediate Orchestra on the floor before them, they joined forces for a spectacularly enthusiastic performance.


Dury Loveridge, one of the tutors and creators of the course said, ‘When we devised the Let’s Play programme last September we could only have dreamed of how much it has come to achieve. Every pupil has thrown themselves into learning their instrument with such dedication and enthusiasm, and what they have accomplished is truly remarkable. They were all beaming with pride at the end of the performance, and TAYM has started a whole new generation of young musicians on their musical journey’.

Around 90% of the children who took part have already signed-up to continue in September (2 of them have moved into the TAMC groups already). The new course, ‘Let’s Play Plus’ will see the groups continue their instrumental classes alongside playing with the Intermediate Orchestra (with coaches giving them extra help in the orchestra). The clarineos will graduate on to clarinets in September too, giving them a chance to really work on their sound on a full-sized instrument.

September will see a new intake of Let’s Play pupils starting too. Classes will be on clarineos, pbones and violins on Saturday mornings at Marlwood School, as part of the Thornbury Area Junior Music Centre. They are a fantastic and affordable way for young children to start learning a musical instrument and places are filling fast. You can find out more on the TAYM website by clicking here>>>




Let’s Play Pbones meet Bone Appetit

trombone lessons in south gloucestershireBefore their appearance at the recent Rockhampton Folk Festival, the fantastic Bone Appetit trombone quartet from Wales came to do a workshop with the Thornbury Area Youth Music “Let’s Play” trombone class.  After some fun warm-up exercises, the group split up to learn the different parts of the theme tune from “Indiana Jones”.  The performance, with 13 trombones, on the folk festival stage was a treat.
We’re really proud of our young trombonists” said Chris White-Horne the children’s tutor.  “They’ve only been playing a few months and for them to learn this piece and then appear on a stage with the lads from Bone Appetit shows how quickly they’ve learnt .”
bones1Bone Appetit is from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.  They have played many high profile concerts including an appearance at Classic FM Live, regular performances at the Millenium Stadium and as resident miusicians for the Welsh Rugby Union.  The quartet often performs educational and outreach concerts, introducing the trombone to audiences across South Wales and beyond.
Thornbury Area Youth Music provides musical activities for children of all ages.  The innovative Let’s Play scheme started in January to introduce young children to new instruments and prepare them to join the training bands and orchestras.  “Let’s Play has been hugely successful,” says Chris Smith, Chair of TAYM, “We’ve been delighted with the children’s success and our classes for next year are filling fast.”  For more information about Let’s Play and Thornbury Area Youth Music see here

Young Musicians take to the stage after just a few lessons!

As we enter the second term of lessons for our Let’s Play! students, it seems timely to mention what they’ve achieved so far.

Around 50 young budding musicians are taking part in the scheme, playing trombone, clarinet, flute and violin. Each week they meet for 45 minute sessions focussing on instrumental technique, rhythm and pitch games and exercises and other fun musical activities.

Just before the Easter break, with lesson numbers yet to make it to double figures, they performed in their first concert. In a smaller side venue at Thornbury Baptist church, around 50% of the students taking part arrived, in concert dress, to show parents and onlookers just what they’d been up to.

First up were the woodwind players. The flutes and clarinets combine to form a wind ‘super group’. There were demonstrations of the ’12-second’ and ’16-second’ warm-ups which the players are encouraged to do daily to improve their breathing and sound production. The audience were then treated to a 12-bar blues piece followed by a duet – with the flutes and clarinets alternating parts.

Next up were the trombones. With some very capable presentations by the young players on how their instruments worked (or perhaps better termed, ‘come apart’!), the children stepped forward and showed the various warm-up games that they do on Saturdays. They played a couple of pieces, ending with ‘hot cross bones’.


Finally the violinists closed the concert. There were performances of ‘supercalifragalisticexpealidocious’, a calm rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and a rousing blues piece – all played with the bow.

It really was fantastic to see so many young players beginning their instrumental lessons with Thornbury Area Youth Music. Most have been making great use of the online resources, including backing tracks to perform at home. All of the children were on a high after the concert, buzzing (quite literally in the case of the trombones!) with enthusiasm, which is a testament to the work of tutors Chris, Sarah and Dury.

As one parent put it, “the children absolutely love it, with the enthusiasm of the tutors shining through”.

‘Let’s Play!’ off to a fantastic start

Saturday January 24th saw the start of something momentous for the trust – with around 50 children arriving at Thornbury Area Music Centre for the very first session of the new ‘Let’s Play!’ scheme. The scheme sees young children taking their first steps on a musical journey, with the opportunity to learn either the flute, clarinet, trombone or violin. Players are loaned an instrument for the time they are enrolled in the classes, and take it away each week to practice new pieces or techniques. What’s more, they get the chance to see where they are aiming for each week as the orchestras, string ensembles, wind bands and other groups take place around them at Marlwood School.

So how have they been getting on?

The flutes and the clarinets have made an amazing start. The clarinets are light-weight and in c, which means they can learn the same notes as the flutes making for a great sound. By learning together the clarinettists can learn about the flute too, and vice versa. Week one was spent learning about the instruments, how they work and the basics of how to make a sound, but by week two there was no stopping them! Each young musician is playing with confidence already, and we’ve they’ve already learned the notes A & B, including a performance of a piece called ‘Witches Brew’ led by a few of the children taking it in turns to ‘be the teacher’ or leader.

learning an instrument in South Gloucestershire - Let's Play!

The flutes and clarinets getting to know their colourful instruments!

Next door the trombones have been getting to grips with their fantastically coloured instruments. They’re learning a version of the trombone called the ‘pbone’. It is a (virtually) indestructible  plastic version of the trombone. It works and sounds just like a real trombone. Week one was spent playing fun warm-ups and learning the basics of how to produce a sound. Their tutor Chris was over-whelmed with how well they all did, and sends a weekly emails to parents letting them know what their young musicians have been up to and what they can expect next week. By week 2 they were all playing the note f with a teddy bear (their favourite from home) helping them with their posture and breathing!

learn music in South Glos with Thornbury area music

The triumphant trombones with their tutor, Chris

And let’s not forget the violin class. Some pupils have their own instruments, but most a being loaned an instrument from the trust.  Each of the players has learned the basics of posture, and by week one they were already singing and playing a song about the zoo animals to help them remember their open string names. By week two they had mastered a special version of Supercalifragilisticexpealidoscious! They have also mastered the art of standing posture for when they ‘perform’, and there seem to be a few budding teachers and team-leaders in there too as they count the group in!

learning violin in south glos with thornbury area music

The violins in week one learning the ‘Zoo’ song!

It really is a great thing to see so many young people arriving so enthusiastically with their instruments on a Saturday at Marlwood, and to see the trust inspiring a new generation of young musicians from South Gloucestershire as they embark on their musical journey. Some keen-eyed readers may have noticed the subtle rebranding of the trust’s logo and website over the last few weeks, as we change the TAMT name to ‘Thornbury Area Youth Music’ – a name more befitting an organisation now running instrumental classes, a flourishing music centre, junior music activities, and a youth orchestra for more than 150 children ranging from ages 4-18!


Peter and the Wolf Competition for children 12 and under

peterposterwebOn November the 14th, TAMT will be presenting two fantastic performances of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’. This is a magical and captivating musical tale for children and adults alike, featuring all of your favourite characters: Peter, Grandfather, the hunters, a duck, a cat, a bird… and of course the wolf! The music will be performed by the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra, and narration will by actor John Telfer – known to millions as the Rev. Alan Franks on Radio 4’s The Archers.

peterandthewolfAs part of the concert, we’re giving children aged 12 and under (on Nov 14th) the chance to win two fantastic prizes – a copy of the animated version of Peter and Wolf signed by Mr Telfer, and copy of the fantastic artwork created for the event by internationally recognised illustrator Rosie Brooks.


There are two ways you can enter:

1) Draw us a Picture!

Draw us a picture of your favourite scene from the story.  Or even one of the instruments from the orchestra. The more colourful and fun the better!

2) Write two sentences about Peter and the Wolf!

Tell us what your favourite part of the story is. Tell us who your favourite character is and why. How it makes you feel. Anything about it really. Again, the more interesting and unusual the better.

The rules are simple – You must be aged 12 or under on November the 14th 2014, and all of the work must be your own.

How to enter:

Writing competition: Email your child’s sentences, and their name/age to

Picture competition: Either scan, or take a picture of their artwork – you can then email this to

If you have any difficulties, please email us and we can let you know alternative ways of entering!

All entries must be received by Monday November the 10th!


SCYO perform at National Festival to celebrate ‘Britten and Beyond’ Project

Youth Orchestra in South Glos - SCYO - performing at National Festival

Posing outside Symphony Hall – SCYO at Music for Youth National Festival

Sunday July 12th saw the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra take part in a special performance on the last day of the Music for Youth National Festival in Birmingham. The National Festival is a week-long celebration of music making featuring pop, urban, classical, wind bands, music centres, symphony orchestras and more. The festival sees performance in Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall and the Adrian Boult Hall, and as part of its celebration of 10 years in Birmingham, there were various fringe performances taking place in the library and marquees around the city centre.

britten_100_logoThe SCYO were invited to perform at a special performance celebrating the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten. During 2013/14, SCYO have taken part in the Britten and Beyond Project, which has seen 20 selected groups from across the globe establishing links with one another and exploring his music (you can find out about SCYO’s partners at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome here). The culmination of this project, involving Music for Youth, the British Council and the Britten Foundation, took place in the Adrian Boult Concert Hall, within the Birmingham Conservatoire.

When we arrived, we were introduced to Pete Letanka, who would be leading a workshop involving all of the players for the afternoon. Pete is a jazz pianist & composer, and a very experienced workshop leader having led education projects with the Royal Opera House and London Philharmonic Orchestra. We would be learning two songs, one a specially commissioned work to celebrate the project and another based on ‘Cuckoo’ from Brittens Friday Afternoons. A chamber group of musicians from SCYO went to learn their music.

SCYO Chamber RehearsalMeanwhile, in the Recital Hall Pete led a high-energy and fast-paced workshop which involved us working with pupils from Grantham Prep School to learn the songs, complete with actions, focussing on aspects of pitch and rhythm.

SCYO Music for YouthAfter a brief rehearsal in the Adrian Boult Hall, at 4pm the celebration began. The event was being filmed from various angles to be broadcast on the internet, and the screen above the ABH stage certainly kept the audience on their toes!

Clips and messages from the groups around the world were broadcast on the screen, including Bulgaria and Armenia. A teacher from the Maynard School in Exeter was interviewed about her school’s involvement, and then it was time for the SCYO to present the first ‘live’ performance. The videos really gave the players a chance to see what a big, international project they had been involved with.

Performing at the Music for Youth National Festival

SCYO performing Britten in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham

The Orchestra performed three movements from Britten’s ‘Soirees Musicales’ – The rousing March, the dancing Tirolese, and the foot-stomping Tarantella. All of the players really rose to the ocassion, performing with professionalism and expertise. There were brilliant solos from flute, clarinet and oboe, and the strings really worked together to make a cohesive sound. The audience certainly showed their appreciation at the end!

After the performance, more clips were featured involving groups further afield, before we came to the grand finale. Pete taught the audience their part (yes, the audience provided some extra backing rhythms!). Before we performed ‘Cuckoo’ and Pete’s own composition. Everyone involved was impressed at the way the SCYO players threw themselves into this piece – both those playing instruments and those singing. It showed real enthusiasm and true professionalism – learning and performing a new piece within an hour takes courage and concentration.

Britten and Beyond Performance

Britten and Beyond Performance – The Grand Finale

The entire performance, including the clips and messages, will be online to watch again shortly and we will post a link when it’s up. With the whole thing filmed from various angles it should be brilliant to watch again and we can’t wait. And no, no one was immune to the occasional close up on the big screen!

Britten and Beyond - the big screen


A big ‘thank you’ must go to Judith for organising everything, and Music for Youth for their excellent organisation. We hope to continue our links with some of the groups involved too. It really was a fantastic experience for everyone, tutors and pupils alike, and it’s been a privilege to be involved in such a project.


BBC launch ‘Ten Pieces’ Music initiative – TAMT signed to be a ‘Champion’

You’ve probably seen in the media that the BBC have launched a new initiative to get primary school children listening to classical music. With ambassadors for the project including violinist Nicola Benedetti, trumpeter Alison Balsom, and singer/songwriter Cerys Matthews, it is a massive undertaking involving music organisations across the UK.

Each of the Ten Pieces, which you can find listed on the project’s homepage, has been recorded by a BBC orchestra, and a special film has been created which will be shown in cinemas and schools during the year.

There is a fantastic mix of music including Stravinsky, Mozart and even a specially commissioned piece by young composer Anna Meredith.

TAMT are pleased to announce that we are fully sign-up ‘champions’ of the project. This means we’ll be kept up to date with national events, and our young players will be taking part in a national music initiative!

In November, SCYO will be performing a special concert aimed at young children of ‘Peter and the Wolf’, and it seemed a perfect opportunity to perform one of the ‘Ten Pieces’. There is currently an online vote for players and supporters to choose between Mussorgsky’s ‘A night on a bare mountain’ and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’.

It’s an exciting project, and during the year we hope that every young musician within TAMT will have come into contact with the whole initiative in some way – watch this space!

Article on the successes of TAMT

Thornbury Gazette has just published online a really good article about TAMT’s 1st year and the launch of the Junior Music Centre from September – sponsored by John Lewis music matters, Co-operative Community Fund and Old Down country park

The full article can be viewed here>>>

We went to a Music for Youth Festival!

It was an early 8am start for the coach in Thornbury as two coaches took the TAMC and the AMS musicians to Cheltenham. They were just a few of the 50,000 young musicians who take part in the festival across the country, which is a showcase for talented groups and innovative performances.

In the morning session the TAMC Senior Strings performed Adele’s Skyfall and I Dreamed a Dream from ‘Les Mis’ in a brilliant performance including a guest pianist and kit player winning praise for the ‘strong string sound’. The TAMC Junior Orchestra, including ‘student mentors’ from the seniors were praised highly for their ensemble and enthusiasm. Finally the TAMC Senior Wind Band performed two pieces from their repertoire, to great enthusiasm from the audience and MFY Mentors. Staff from neighbouring music services and schools wanted to pass on their congratulations on such a strong showing from a centre which only started 6 months ago, and for the various solos which featured.

At lunch the TAMC Musicians went home, and the AMS performers got ready for their classes. The South Cotswold Youth Orchestra was praised highly for its performance of Fred Moore’s own composition ‘Last Man Standing’ which featured ferocious drumming from Josh. They also performed Radetsky March and had the audience clapping along. The String Orchestra was prased for its ‘balanced string sound’ and ‘impressive opening’ to Grieg’s Holberg Suite and The St Paul’s Suite, before the Wind Orchestra played part of Bach’s The Art of Fugue and Doug Lorenz’s (!) Uptown Midtown leaving only percussionist Josh and conductor Chris Sanders on the stage to take the applause and the praise form the mentors for their ‘great ensemble skills and watching of the conductor’.

As if the performances weren’t enough, the players had a fantastic opportunity to watch their peers from neighbouring areas play. There were brass and saxophone quintets and small ensembles, choirs, and a brilliant massed-cello ensemble. I’m sure all of the players went home inspired to practice hard!

south glos youth orchestra - the south cotswold youth orchestra at Music for Youth

Below are the 6 certificates TAMT returned home with, one for each group. Click on the picture for the full size version.

South Glos Youth Orchestra - South Cotswold Youth Orchestra        South Glos Music Centres - Thornbury Music Centre

String Orchestra - music in south gloucestershire - South Cotswold Youth String Orchestra        South Cotswold Youth Wind Ensemble - southglosmusic

South Glos Youth Wind Ensemble         Southglos - Thornbury Music Centre Senior Strings

Amazing first concert for TAMT

9.15am and the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra were already rehearsing at the Baptist Church in Thornbury. By 10.15 when they left the stage to get ready the audience were already queuing out the door!

There was standing room only at the back of the hall when the concert started, to a capacity audience. Beginning with the Junior String and Wind Ensembles coached by Trudy and Janet (with guest percussion from Chris Sanders and cello from Fred Moore!) with a mixture of Christmas tunes and even some Shostakovich. The Junior Ensembles always take the festive dress seriously, and there were some great Christmas accessories ranging from baubles to Antlers!

thornbury area music centre

After the Junior Ensembles there were three smaller chamber groups. A mixed ensemble, a string octet and a wind quartet all played expertly, with precision timing and great presentation.

Then the AMS groups made their debut performance. The Youth Orchestra opened with Walton’s rousing Crown Imperial, before the string orchestra played a captivating performance of Grieg’s Two Elegaic Melodies, and the wind performed Bizet’s Farandolle. To close the 1st half of the concert, the full forces of the South Cotswold Youth Orchestra were put to great effect in Malcolm Arnold’s Little Suite No.1 which featured dazzling performances and fireworks from every section of this talented ensemble.

After the interval, the TAMC Choir performed Gary Barlow’s Sing with great gusto, before the Senior Ensembles performed. The orchestra played a festive rendition of Strauss’ Pizzicato Polka before playing a composition by our very talented cellist Fred Moore. The debut performance of his work Last Man Standing was encored giving the audience a second chance to hear it’s effective use of the TAMC forces. The wind band played some Mozart, before the strings played an electric rendition of Copland’s Hoedown from Rodeo at great speed (excellent work violins!) and Grieg’s Holdberg Suite, before closing the concert with a medley of The Lion King by the Senior Orchestra.

An amazing start to the Thornbury Area Music Trust. With over 100 musicians attending and performing it was an amazing sight and sound. Well done to all who took part!

thornbury area music trust wind

junior wind players in south glos