There are groups for all levels, from beginners trying out instruments, to advanced musicians looking for more challenging material and performance opportunities.
Two of our more experienced young musicians have described their recent activities, playing with the Hampshire Jazz Centre and the Hampshire Youth Folk Ensemble.
Jazz journey: Felix Appleby
Fifteen-year-old Felix ([pictured second left), from Fareham, plays the alto saxophone at beyond Grade 6 level. He recently joined the Hampshire Jazz Centre, a group that meets at least four times a term at Brookfield Community School to play jazz with specialist jazz staff.
“I’m really enjoying the jazz centre,” he says. “I’ve always liked jazz but I didn’t really know about the theory concepts behind it. It’s fun, lively music, and I feel I’m broadening my knowledge.
Felix has played the saxophone for seven years. “Everyone in the group is quite experienced, so it’s an opportunity to really challenge ourselves,” he says. “It’s a nice co-operative group, everyone listens to each other, and the conductors are really engaging. They offer lots of opportunities for solos.”
He also plays the piano, ukulele and clarinet. “Music is a massive part of my life,” he says. “Sometimes people comment to me that it must be a lot of work – but it doesn’t feel like that. There are so many different events and schemes to get involved in; it’s actually really varied and interesting.”
Felix and other members of the Jazz Centre are gearing up for their next big performance, at the Royal Albert Hall in April. The group will perform during a newly commissioned piece reflecting on how we should look after our oceans, as part of ‘Hampshire at the Hall’, Hampshire Music Service’s biggest ever concert, in front of an audience of 2,000 people.
“Playing at the Royal Albert Hall is going to be great,” Felix says. “To play on the same stage that so many big stars have played on – I’m looking forward to us all being up there, showing everyone what Hampshire musicians can do.
“I’d recommend the Jazz Centre to any young musician – even one who isn’t particularly interested in jazz! It’s great just for trying something new, expanding your repertoire and improving your skills.”
Informal folk: Hameem Khan
16-year-old Hameem Khan has been playing the violin for 11 years, and is a long-established member of several orchestras and ensembles. As an advanced player, she’s no stranger to intensive rehearsals and complex music; but joining the Hampshire Folk Ensemble, which meets weekly during term time at Wildern School in Hedge End, gave her something new and fun, with different challenges.
“Folk is a genre I didn’t know much about until I joined the ensemble,” says Hameem. “It’s fast-paced, and we’re encouraged to memorise the music – so one of the challenges is learning the music well enough to play from memory, and at speed.”
The biggest difference Hameem has noticed is the atmosphere. “I’ve played so much classical music, which is always led in quite a formal way,” she says. “When I play with the folk ensemble, we sit in a semi-circle, everyone puts forward ideas, and it’s very informal. We get to experience different styles. We’ve even learned dance routines; dance is a big part of folk music.
“It’s also very creative. We make a lot of medleys, where we put two or more pieces of music together, and come up with ways to move seamlessly from one piece to the next. It’s fun and friendly.”
Zerina Khan, Hameem’s mum, says the Hampshire Music Service is an important part of life for all her children. “I’m always amazed what young musicians can do,” she says, “It’s been amazing for Hameem and her younger brothers to have these opportunities, they play such a variety of performances, and sometimes at exciting venues – the Great Hall in Winchester was a fantastic experience!
“Music is like a different language, a new world to enjoy. I would encourage more families to come forward and get involved.”
To find out more about the variety of groups, ensembles, choirs and orchestras available across Hampshire, visit Hampshire Music Service or follow @hantsmusichub on Facebook and Twitter. The main Hampshire County Youth Ensembles are currently open for applications, with a deadline of 31 May. See how to apply. Hampshire County Youth Orchestra also has an Open Day on Saturday 24 March.