I’m Jo and I’ve been running Musical Minis in South Wales since 2003. As well as running Musical Minis classes I also teach music. (instrumental lessons). Prior to my purchase of the Musical Minis franchise I trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and worked for a leading telecommunications company.
Both my children, Jack (13) and Harrison (8) have been brought up in a house surrounded by music, including attending Musical Minis classes with me from a very young age. Jack asked to learn to play the piano at the age of 3. The recorder followed at the age of 5 and then the clarinet at the age of 7. Harrison has sung, beautifully, from a very early age and plays guitar.
5 years ago I wrote a guest blog for Learning Made Fun telling readers about how Jack, then 8, had successfully auditioned to be part of the Lang Lang mass Piano orchestra performing on stage at the Royal Festival Hall.
5 years on and Jack has gone from strength to strength, performing on both recorder & clarinet at the Brecon Jazz Festival, each year since 2011, having attended the Junior Jazz Summer School at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. He’s had successes at the South Glamorgan Festival for Young Musicians, on all 3 instruments, most recently winning the award for ‘The Most Promising Woodwind Performance’ from the whole competition, and successes in the Music in the Vale Competition, including winning the award for The Most Promising Young Musician living in The Vale of Glamorgan in 2013, along with The Most Promising Pianist prize and overall runner up in the junior class in 2014.
Jack started at the local comprehensive school in September 2014. Within weeks he was already studying for GCSE Music, which he sat in June 2015, aged just 12. His result – a B!
Around the same time that Jack started studying for GCSE Music, he was invited to take part in a Piano Masterclass, in school, that was being run by international pianist Richard Meyrick. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend as well. Richard visits various British schools as part of a project run through The Pianoman Scheme. 6 pianists from the school are invited to take part along with an audience made up of other students from the school who are studying for either GCSE or A Level Music. Each of the 6 pianists taking part bring along a prepared piece on piano music they would like to work on during the masterclass. Richard aims to give each youngster new ideas, techniques & advice on what they can do to improve their playing. Hoping to inspire young musicians, Richard also performs one or two pieces, himself, at these masterclasses.
When Richard visits a school for a masterclass, he is also on the lookout for students who show particular promise as pianists. These youngsters can be offered the opportunity of an all expenses paid scholarship at Richard’s Piano Studio in London.
When Jack took part in Richard’s masterclass, he performed brilliantly, and as a result, was offered a place on the Pianoman Scholarship scheme.
Jack and I now travel to London on a monthly basis for piano lessons with either Richard, or one of his fabulous team of teachers. Jack has to work hard between each lesson, with hours of practice taking place each week, (on the piano as well as his other instruments). But, in the time in which he’s been going, he’s learnt many different techniques and approaches to learning, practicing and performing many styles of music. Many of which he has carried across from the piano to his clarinet & recorder playing too.
As a parent, I strongly believe that children need a balance of activities, so although there’s a lot of music in our house, both boys are involved with the Scouting association as well as several sporting activities. They have many interests outside of music including photography & trains. They’ve been encouraged to work hard and be self-sufficient. For which, they are reaping the benefits.
As a Musical Minis franchisee – I’m incredibly lucky to be in the position where I’m able to take time off from running classes each month to take Jack to London handing the running of the day’s classes over to one of my fabulous team of assistants.
Who knows what the future will bring, who knows where Jack will go to from here and if he will pursue a career in music, but Musical Minis introduced both my boys to the wonderful world of music and that’s something they will take with them both for the rest of their lives.