Leeds, Leeds Star
All four members of the Walters family from Meanwood attend, or work at the North Leeds Music Centre and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
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Celebrating 50 years of music and song in North Leeds

A music centre which has been bringing music to the heart of north Leeds for 50 years is celebrating with a free anniversary concert next month.

Musicians past and present from the North Leeds Music Centre will join together at the special concert on Saturday 18th March, 3pm, at Allerton C of E Primary School.

Performing at the concert will be musicians from the current Training Orchestra, Concert Band, String Orchestra and Senior Orchestra – plus a special ensemble of past students and staff which will be led by David Bellwood, who was the orchestra conductor from 1986 to 2006.

Since 1967, thousands of children and adults have passed through the doors of North Leeds Music Centre (formerly known as Scott Hall Music Centre and North West Leeds Music Centre) on a Saturday morning, to learn an instrument, play in an ensemble, and discover the joy of making music for the first time.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:

“This concert is a wonderful chance to celebrate the centre’s proud history and ongoing success. Thousands of children and adults from beginners to more accomplished musicians have passed through the doors over the past 50 years, to discover the enjoyment which making music can bring, as well as discovering new talents and new friends.”

Ex-students are also being sought to join in with the alumni ensemble or share their old photos, programmes etc. More information can be obtained by contacting the head of centre, Mark Sturdy, on 0113 378 2850 or north.leeds.music.centre@leeds.gov.uk.

North Leeds is one of seven music centres across the city which provide a fantastic resource for the local communities; offering tuition, bands, orchestras and choirs. The music on offer is of broad range and is open to all ages and abilities.

The centres aim to offer every family, every individual, in Leeds the opportunity to learn and make music, regardless of their situation. Lessons start from just £10 per month.

One such family are the Walters from Meanwood who have been involved with North Leeds Music Centre as students, helpers and eventually teaching staff for the past seven years:

Andrew originally joined aged 11 in 2010, starting in the Training Orchestra on violin, which he had already started to learn at school. On joining the centre he then chose to start learning the cello. He recently gained a Grade 8 distinction on cello, and now works at the music centre as an orchestra accompanist and teaching assistant and is planning a career in music.

He says: “Working at the music centre is an opportunity to inspire others and make the most out of the music that they’re doing. All the staff have been really inspiring and without them I wouldn’t have pursued the path I’m going down, which is hopefully going to lead to a full-time career in music.”

Andrew’s mum Hazel also decided to join, after originally studying music at college. Hazel volunteers at the centre as well as joining the Senior Orchestra and helping out with the Training Orchestra. Being part of the music centre also encouraged her to revisit a talent for the French horn which she had not played for years.

She says: “I was always trying to encourage the children to do music. What is lovely about (the music centre) is that you can have children and adults playing together. You see children coming and going and adults enjoying themselves and coming with their children. The staff are so friendly and knowledgeable, and they give of their all – so much time and effort. They alter the music being played so that people can be involved. They’ll always find some music that you can play; they’ll make it easier for you if you’re struggling. It’s just a lovely atmosphere.”

Daughter Lauren (now aged 17), also a keen musician, found the centre was ideal to expand her talents. Over the years Lauren has been a member of several orchestras and bands as well as attending flute and bassoon lesson and learning about music theory too. She currently volunteers at the centre and is a member of the string orchestra, the senior orchestra and the concert band.

Finally, dad Darren joined as a student this year to learn the clarinet. Previously he had only tried to learn instruments on his own, so felt he needed some structured lessons. He says:

‘I’ve really moved on quickly, so I’m over the moon – I’ve even played in the Christmas concert, which was a challenge. I think people need a challenge, it really develops their personality.”

For more information, go to www.artformsleeds.co.uk or call 0113 3782850.

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