This month, an exciting new scheme has been set up by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to help young musicians in the south-west of the UK further their careers. The Centre for Young Musicians at Hestercombe House in Taunton covers a wide variety of instruments, with teaching taking place each Saturday. We caught up with acting head of centre Tomas Yardley to find out more.
2MF: What inspired the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Centre for Young Musicians, to launch a music centre in Taunton?
TY: The Centre for Young Musicians has been an integral division of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for several years now, and is a hugely successful music centre in its own right, boasting over 450 students and a host of high-quality ensembles, from small-chamber groups to orchestras and jazz-bands. Over the duration of its relationship with the GSMD it became apparent that such a successful wider opportunities model as the CYM should be made possible beyond the city of London, and so two new centres have been opened this year, the NCYM in Norwich, and the HCYM at Hestercombe House, just outside in Taunton.
2MF: Tell us more about the curriculum.
TY: Our curriculum offers a broad range of pursuits including ensemble performance, individual lessons, singing, theory, general musicianship, composition and history.
2MF: What can students expect from it?
TY: Students can expect a full day of musicianship and learning, offered by some of Somerset’s finest musicians and teachers. With this they will have the chance to interact with many other young musicians, all in the grounds of Hestercombe House, a location of stunning beauty and architecture.
2MF: What’s your role at the Guildhall?
TY: My role as Head of Centre at the HCYM has been to oversee the months leading up to its launch on March 1st 2014, and to steer the school through its continuing growth and expansion.
2MF: How did you come to be involved with the Hestercombe Centre for Young musicians?
TY: While studying for my PhD in composition at King’s College, London, I took up a post as a classroom tutor at the CYM in London. Originally from the southwest, I decided at the end of the year that it was time to return to my roots, and to move back to the area, which prompted my interest in the HCYM project. The rest is history…
2MF: Do you think music education in rural areas needs to be improved?
TY: What you tend to find in more rural areas is that access to high-quality education can be much harder to come by than in say, for example, the south-east, as transport is rarely an issue in and around London, and often the commute is shorter. Further to this, a culture of attending events and regular extracurricular pursuits doesn’t always necessarily exist in rural areas, and so some parents and guardians are forced to show an incredible amount of determination, in order to regularly provide transport and funding for their children’s education.
One solution to these problems is to facilitate the opening of further wider opportunities institutions like the HCYM, to complement the often-incredible efforts being made by music teachers in primary and secondary schools alike. For this to happen, more funding from various sources needs to be made readily available in rural areas.
2MF: What challenges do young people face today when pursuing a career in music?
TY: Once a young musician has decided to pursue a career in music, having already spent large sums of money on purchasing instruments, paying for lessons and studying hard to gain entry to and completing courses in higher education institutions, they have to decide whether to teach or to use their skills to forge a different career path in music.
If a young musician chooses to teach, there is the obvious need to build up a list of students large enough so that they can cope with general absenteeism and travel expenses. This can take time, especially in the period during and after a recession, but it can be incredibly rewarding.
If a young musician chooses to forge a different path, be it in admin work, performing, events management and beyond, they will need to build up a CV strong enough to be considered for the role, which again takes time but can lead to a highly fulfilling career.
2MF: What advice do you have for any young musicians keen to make it big?
TY: Determination and patience are hugely important. If one’s passion for music remains strong then one can overcome any obstacles that they might encounter. Networking is also hugely beneficial. In any career, the larger your list of contacts, the more opportunities you’ll have to establish yourself in the world of music.