A new project is bringing the joy of learning music to the children of Annfield Plain, near Consett.

As part of the legacy of County Durham’s popular BRASS festival, kids at Annfield Plain Junior School will get one year of brass tuition.

BRASS was enjoyed by over 40,000 people this July, with concerts, events, parties and workshops taking place across the county.

The festival also included 82 concerts and workshops in schools, with over 16,000 youngsters getting to hear brass-influenced music from across the planet.

Now Durham Music Service is working in partnership with Durham County Council to deliver the music lessons in Annfield Plain.

Year Five pupils are being schooled in the techniques needed to be a brass musician, but the lessons have a difference. The ‘pBone’ trumpets and trombones the children are learning on are made out of plastic.

These instruments are good for kids as they allow hands of various shapes and sizes to easily get a grip. They are also more robust and less breakable than traditional brass instruments and they come in a range of bright colours that make them attractive to children.

Brass year of tuition 3
Kids at Annfield Plain Junior School try out the plastic trombones

The programme in Annfield Plain Junior School was launched in the summer by Backchat Brass, one of the street bands that played at the BRASS festival.

The band entertained the pupils with their brass renditions of pop hits and inspired the youngsters by telling them of the impact playing an instrument from a young age has had on their lives.

Musician Tom L’Anson said, “I have been lucky enough to play the trombone from a young age. So many opportunities open up to you when you play a musical instrument and you get to meet people from so many different backgrounds.”

“Music truly is a universal language that has taken me all over the world and led to many amazing experiences.”

The lessons will lead up to the kids giving a concert at next year’s BRASS festival. After that, small-group sessions and extra-curricular classes will provide opportunities for pupils keen to carry on playing brass music.

The manager of Durham Music Service, Michael Summers, said, “We are thrilled to be working with youngsters at Annfield Plain Junior School on such an exciting project.”

“Having the opportunity to perform at an internationally renowned music festival like Durham BRASS will be such an amazing experience for these children.”

“We are passionate about the benefits music brings to young people and can’t wait to see what these lessons lead to.”

Music is already an important part of the curriculum at Annfield Plain Junior School. The children study the ukulele and display their singing talents every year at an annual musical picnic.

The school’s headteacher, Inez Burgess, said, “Learning to play an instrument helps our pupils to build confidence, improve memory, feel a sense of achievement and work as a team.”

“Just as important as that, whilst they are learning and performing, they have fun. Music, in all its forms, improves wellbeing.”

“To have the opportunity to be a part of Durham BRASS festival and to work with Durham Music Service adds another dimension to our pupils’ musical journey.”

“For pupils to become music makers alongside professional musicians is both exciting and inspiring; it may even encourage pupils to choose this as a career path. It is most definitely going to be a fun-filled year.”

For more information about Durham Music Service, please go to https://www.durhammusic.org.uk/durham-music-service1.

To learn more about Durham’s BRASS festival, please visit https://www.brassfestival.co.uk/.

You can also keep up-to-date with news about the festival by following BRASS International Festival on Facebook or @DurhamBRASS on Twitter and Instagram.

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