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Move To Cleethorpes Academy Brings Youth Music Ensembles Together For The First Time

Semitone Strings rehearse. The strings ensemble members rehearse separately with conductor Rebecca Smith in their new home at Cleethorpes Academy before coming together for a full orchestra rehearsal in the Academy's Music Hall later in the evening. 

Cleethorpes Academy has thrown open its doors to the North East Lincolnshire Council’s Music and Performing Arts Service (MAPAS) allowing its Youth Ensembles to be able to rehearse all together on an evening for the first time ever.

Around 70 children are now coming together under one roof on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, allowing each of 12 ensembles to rehearse in separate rooms at the Academy before a full orchestra rehearsal in the second half of the evening.

It is the first time this has happened because previous rehearsal venues did not offer the space. Cleethorpes Academy has made Music a priority since it opened in 2010, and 25% of its current students (more than 200) receive parapatetic Music lessons from MAPAS. The Academy also offers Music scholarships to promising students, which gives them 12 months of free Music lessons.

The pandemic reduced MAPAS rehearsals to online Zoom calls only and this, coupled with students leaving for university this month, has depleted membership. However, the start of rehearsals at Cleethorpes Academy three weeks ago has already seen a resurgence, and MAPAS is now calling for more young musicians to join them. Young people from schools right across the region are brought together for Music lessons and a sharing of common interests, which also leads to new friendships.

Zoe Everatt, Ensembles and Project Lead for The Music Hub, said: “Being at Cleethorpes Academy allows us to bring all of our ensembles together in one place on one night. The student feedback we had last year was that they all wanted to be together at the same time to increase that social aspect and we couldn’t do that where we were before, so it is really important for us to be able to have all of the ensembles under one roof like this.”

Zoe and her fellow Music Teachers, who are either self-employed or working for local schools, believe it is crucial for young people to be able to come together to share their love of Music.

She said: “When a child is learning an instrument it can be really difficult to keep the motivation going, to keep at it just on their own. They are often the only person in their class who is learning an instrument so it is finding the opportunities to come together in a band once a week, all in the same place, all at the same time, with that shared common interest. 

“It really develops their musicianship skills and provides them with opportunities that they just wouldn’t get anywhere else. We have done international tours in Paris and Germany, big concerts at Grimsby Auditorium, and we did a huge Last Night of the Proms at Cleethorpes Cricket Club a couple of years ago. These are opportunities you just wouldn’t get if you were sitting on your own learning an instrument that way, so it is really vital to have this service.

“COVID permitting, and once we have increased our membership again, we cannot wait to announce another international tour.”

Current students were singing the praises of the youth music service as they rehearsed this week. Olivia Marriott (19) is now at university in Lincoln training to be a teacher, but she continues to attend rehearsals now that they are up and running again at Cleethorpes Academy. She joined the Youth Orchestra at the beginning of secondary school.

“It is just nice to all be able to come together with people who play instruments and share common interests,” she said.

One of the younger students is nine-year-old Stanley Zhang who attends Signhills Academy. He has been playing voilin with the strings ensemble for two years. “I really enjoy playing here,” he said.

Semitone Strings Teacher Rebecca Smith, who currently teaches Music at Tollbar Academy, was herself a youth musician with MAPAS.

“It offers such a great opportunity for all the young, aspiring musicians to come together and create music. We really hope that now we are back up and running with a fantastic new rehearsal space that we can increase our membership, as we have lots of room here to do so,” she said.

Joseph Yull (23) is one of the longest-serving members of the Youth Orchestra. He joined 14 years ago and continues to play with the Wind Ensemble. “I started when I was at Thrunscoe Academy and have stuck around. I continued through Zoom lessons but that was very difficult so it is fantastic to be back together face-to-face again.”

Ruth Hart, a peripatetic teacher with MAPAS, who conducts the Wind Ensemble, said: “There is very much a social aspect to this, meeting like-minded people and being able to practise together in a way that you couldn’t do at home. It gives these young musicians a much wider perspective and allows them to go on to music careers if they so choose.”

Choristers Ewan Pearson (16) and Ava Haywood (12) are regular members of the choir. Ava said: “I have been with the choir for three years and a bit. I started with the Songbirds, which is the younger group, and am now old enough to join Youth Voices. There is definitely a social aspect to this and I think my singing has really improved.”

Ewan said: “I have been in the choir for nine years now and joined when I was 7 because of a Music Festival that MAPAS held which inspired me to come to the choirs. I am an actor and singer and like my Performing Arts and it is something I would like to pursue as a career.”

Janice Hornby, Principal of Cleethorpes Academy, said offering the use of the Academy’s tremendous facilities to MAPAS was an obvious choice given its commitment to music promotion in school.

A year ago Cleethorpes was nominated as a Music Mark School, which also gave it access to numerous benefits such as resources, teaching materials and access to Music Mark events. 

Mrs Hornby said: “At Cleethorpes Academy, we believe that all students should be given the opportunity to learn an instrument. We offer lessons for a variety of instruments including brass, woodwind, strings, piano, singing and drums. These lessons have been hugely popular with over 210 students taking part in musical tuiton. 

“The Academy has some fantastic facilities for musicians and we are only too happy to support MAPAS, who already provide so many of our students with Music lessons. It is our intention to increase our community involvement and collaborate with local groups to benefit those who offer so much support to us.”

If you are interested in joining MAPAS contact Jane Chidwick at North East Lincolnshire Council's Music Hub at Jane.chidwick@nelincs.gov.uk  (Note: Steel Pan and Taiko Drumming lessons are continuing at John Whitgift Academy on Monday and Tuesday Evenings.)

Members of Youth Voices rehearse in their new home at Cleethorpes Academy.

Playing with the Youth Orchestra.

Ruth Hart, Peripatetic Woodwind Teacher, conducts the Wind Ensemble as they rehearse at Cleethorpes Academy.

Members of the Wind Ensemble.

Some of the members of Youth Voices. 

The Brass Ensemble rehearses in the Music Hall at Cleethorpes Academy.

Zoe Everatt, Ensembles and Project Lead for the Music Hub, is delighted to bring all of the ensembles under one roof at Cleethorpes Academy.

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Cleethorpes Academy Principal

Janice Hornby