Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
2:45 PM 9th October 2020

Three Initiatives Boost Music Learning In Leeds

First Opera North Percussion Academy to be held in half term
Senior Strings Academy launches for talented young string players
Home Music Programme set up for home-educated children

Young musicians at Opera North Orchestra Camp - photo Opera North
Young musicians at Opera North Orchestra Camp - photo Opera North
Feedback from Summer Strings Academy

“Thank you so much for this year’s summer camp. Rachel is buzzing, I know she has learnt a lot, gained confidence and in the process thoroughly enjoyed herself. It’s also been a huge morale boost in what has been a tough year with so much uncertainty and so many activities cancelled. I can’t say how grateful I am to you all for making this happen.”

To keep young people inspired and engaged with music, Opera North is launching a trio of initiatives over the Autumn months which will enable young musicians to develop their skills both together and at home.

From 26-28 October, the Company will hold its first Percussion Academy. Taking place at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds, the Academy will be led by the two percussionists from the Orchestra of Opera North. They will help budding percussion players to develop their technical skills while also sharing the wealth of experience they have gained as members of a professional orchestra. Open to any child playing at Grade 4 – Grade 8 level, activities during the three days will include body percussion, Latin percussion skills, drills for drums, creative composition, and playing as part of an ensemble, culminating in a livestreamed performance for family and friends on the final day.

Starting on 8 November will be Senior Strings Academy which has been developed after the company’s Summer Strings Academy showed how important it was to young people to be given the opportunity to meet and play their instruments together, particularly at the current time. Designed especially for young violin, viola, cello and double bass players who have already achieved Grade 6 or above, this chamber strings ensemble will be held for three hours each Sunday morning at Opera North’s studio space on Whitehall Road in Leeds. A relaxed and supportive learning environment will ensure everyone who attends is appropriately challenged to develop and reflect on their technical and musical ability under the guidance of Opera North Conductor Oliver Rundell, and string players from the Orchestra of Opera North.

Jacqui Cameron, Opera North Education Director, said:

“It became very clear during the two camps that we held over the summer that there was a real appetite amongst young musicians to start playing their instruments with others again, and just how much they had been missing the invaluable social and musical benefits which being part of an ensemble brings.

“We decided to hold a Percussion Academy in the first instance as young percussionists can often find it more difficult to access good quality training as they seek to develop their technical skills. We hope to follow this with targeted academies for other instruments within an orchestra, while ensuring the needs of talented young string players continue to be met through our Senior Strings Academy.”

Both academies will work strictly within government guidelines for out-of-school settings with numbers restricted to just 15 participants at each one. It will be necessary to submit an online video to apply. More details on this, fees and the Covid-19 precautions being taken, can be found at The deadline for applications for the Percussion Academy is Monday 19 October, while would-be Senior Strings Academy participants have until Wednesday 21 October to apply.

Alongside the two academies, Opera North is also seeking to enrich the musical lives of home-educated children through the launch of an online Home Music Programme which includes the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Using resources from the Company’s award-winning In Harmony school residencies, the programme will follow the national curriculum for 7 to 11-year olds, whether they have any pre-existing musical knowledge or not, with staff on hand to advise on the most appropriate instrument for each participant to try. The programme includes live digital calls with specialist tutors as well as opportunities for group coaching sessions in Leeds. Bookings should be made online by Friday 23 October.

Opera North’s Education Programme is supported by The Emerald Foundation, The Liz & Terry Bramall Foundation, The Whitaker Charitable Trust and Opera North Future Fund.