10 March 2023

Aberdeenshire Youth Music Sessions holds performance for more than 250 parents and guests

Aberdeenshire Council’s Instrumental Music Service has held the first of its youth music sessions performance for more than 250 parents and guests.

There are currently three projects running with each providing a series of condensed sessions over a short period of time with a presentation on the final day for parents and invited guests to enjoy.

Aberdeenshire Youth Music Sessions (AYMS) replaced Music Centres in providing extra-curricular ensemble music-making opportunities. The three projects have together attracted over 150 participants.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Music Development Manager Justin Brook said: “We are incredibly fortunate in Aberdeenshire to have such a dedicated team of instructors leading our young people in what is a new way of working for the service, instructors and pupils. 

“The inclusion of young musicians at the very beginning of their musical journey as well as involving advanced young musicians is an important part of these new projects. 

“We will continue to offer the opportunity of playing in music ensembles in an ever financially challenging period for local authorities. Congratulations to all staff and pupils who made the first AYMS project a success.”

The first AYMS was held at Mackie Academy on Sunday (March 5) with performances by an intermediate concert band led by music service instructors Sarah Gove and Bruce Wallace and assisted by volunteer musicians Rosie Martin and Reece Gordon. 

The band played Rock One by Peter H Riddle, Chaos Mountain by Michael Oare, Fires of Mazama by Michael Sweeney and Smoke on the Water arranged by Johnnie Vinson.

Also performing was a junior string orchestra led by Martin Couzin, Joseph Hibbs and Sandra Thomson, playing Kingston Calypso by K & D Blackwell, New World Symphony by Dvorak and Mbube by Solomon Linda. 

AYMS also offers opportunities for older and more advanced pupils to support the projects as Young Leaders. This role, of which 11 young musicians have taken on this term, involves helping during the sessions in a variety of ways, both musically and in practical terms.

The third AYMS project, a String Orchestra in Inverurie, is led by Zoe Davidson, Sarah Gove and Martin Couzin, assisted by volunteer musicians Douglas Watt and Katie Bowes.

Their final session takes place at Inverurie Academy on Saturday (March 11) with performances of Tom-Tom-Tomahawk by Sheila M Nelson, and Susannah and Liza meet Polly at the Races by Stephen Foster.

It is planned that similar projects will take place in the north areas next academic session. 

Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Education Laurence Findlay, who attended Sunday’s performance, said: “The young musicians clearly enjoyed the sessions and played with great enthusiasm to the delight of the audience. 

“Free music tuition was introduced last year and significant changes to the extracurricular elements of music making were required given our ongoing budgetary challenges. 

“I'm pleased to see – and hear - such positive progress which has been made to date with these opportunities for our young people.”