Instrumental lessons have created such amazing opportunities for so many.

Please read and share your stories below

ESMS changed my life, I came from a background of violence and drug abuse and I had zero social skills, zero prospects, no passion for anything, until I started learning the clarinet with you. Those weekly lessons became the focal point of my life for such a long time I don’t know who I would be without them. And now I can use the skills I learnt there to create my own music, make my own path in life, and really have options. I can choose to live, because ESMS gave me a life, friends, a goal, and something to look forward to in an otherwise difficult and confusing time of my life.

Darryl Noel-Davila

I started trumpet lessons with an ESMS music teacher in primary school in Uckfield. My teacher quickly invited me to the Saturday morning centre in Crowborough, and from there I progressed to the South Downs regional groups and then to the county orchestra, windband, and brass band. I studied for my music and music technology A levels at ESAM; This led to a music degree, a masters degree from Trinity College of Music, and finally a job working as a peripatetic music teacher and conductor in Northamptonshire.

Andy Macfarlane

Through ESMS I have played in the Royal Albert hall, and on the Glyndebourne stage. I have played around the world from New York to Krakow to Barcelona. My first teaching job was an afternoon and a morning for ESMS, my next was given to me by a teacher who I had met at ESMS. I owe them my career, some of my most treasured memories, and one of the parts of my identity which I am most proud.

Working now as a peripatetic teacher in a music trust that goes above and beyond delivering a skeleton service, I see the benefit every day. The children we teach are who they are because of what they do. The ratio of private school graduates in London music colleges is more negatively skewed than Cambridge and Oxford! Music services like ESMS are the only institutions that can offer state educated children the chance of a musical education because they offer everything, from first access, opportunities to play in groups and perform, but most importantly the highly skilled tuition. A school can never hope to match this.

Working in this industry means I also understand the financial pressures. But the choice to simply cut funding without any effort to sustain the organisation, or to help it become self sufficient is criminal. It would take a generation to start again, and it simply does not need to happen. Hundreds if not thousands of children will be prevented from a truly magical part of life. Moreover it takes them down a depressing path where their value as individuals is solely assessed by their ability to do numeracy and literacy exams. Music will become a privilege for the rich.

I truly hope the council will sincerely consider the strength of feeling from those who, like me, think that the amount of money being saved is dwarfed by the value of what will be lost

From the age of 11 the ESMS provided me with many of the fundamental building stones on which my entire life as a musician is based. I was given excellent lessons on my instrument and was able to spend 2 or 3 evening a week playing in the local wind band and symphony orchestras. In my early teens I was given the opportunity to travel to Lewes and play in both the ESWO and ESYO, the latter of which I profited from right up until I turned 21 and started my first professional orchestral work. I was provided with expert advice when choosing my path and supported both as an artist and person. The music service is nationally recognised for its excellence and I am proud and thankful to have been part of it for 10 key years of my development. Upon hearing that the Music Service is endangered, there are a few key points that come to mind. Why culture? To be a cultured person, one needs culture. But being cultured is so much more than “just” the Arts. Access to the Arts provide young souls and minds with a chance to learn and be inspired. Culture provides an education and education is the key to a better world. When we play music together we learn to communicate on a level that goes beyond speech, creating a chance to connect with the great outside world, without the barrier of language. We learn acceptance and we are challenged by things that we cannot understand but can feel. All of these things we cannot learn from a smart phone or a laptop. Additionally young people learn the chance to focus, work in a team and to access a quiet, focused place, where there are no outside disturbances. I understand that there are many people who didn’t have access to the performing arts and therefore are unable to understand just how precious they are in this day and age. But for the politicians making decisions and budget on behalf of future generations of young children, many of whom will thrive through contact to the ESMS, I would say one thing. It takes decades to build up a music service like the one we have in East Sussex and such a legacy can be destroyed overnight. One would never destroy a gothic cathedral to make more parking space, nor would one destroy a priceless collection of art to make more storage room for smart phones. And one should never make the decision on behalf of our children, that they don’t need music and all of the wonderful benefits and blissful emotions that come with it. Without the ESMS, I wouldn’t have become a professional musician – please think twice about making it extinct. The example that you now set will affect the future of many other music services and unavoidably the entire future of music in the United Kingdom.

Tom Owen ARAM Principal Oboe, Cologne State Opera and Chamber Music tutor at the Folkwang University, Essen, Germany.

I came to learning an instrument relatively late in my school career (aged 14) and quickly jumped on the bandwagon of holiday courses provided by ESMS. First, ESWO and then ESYO with some brief encounters with ESYBB and various localised concert band courses etc. As someone who didn’t attend school within the county, it was a lifeline in terms of meeting like-minded local people and share our mutual love of music. The fantastic experiences of tours and courses meant I made many connections and friends for life, most of whom I keep up with now. I did a GAP year and spent 3 days a week in Lewes attending the ESAM and also doing various small admin jobs for the East Sussex Music Library and county music service which were great job opportunities for me and enabled me to save to go to music college. I attended the Royal College of Music as an undergraduate trombonist and it was wonderful to see familiar faces there from my county ensemble days. I occasionally would continue playing for county groups for a few more years as a student and this was a great unique connection for keeping in touch and networking with musicians. There have been too many wonderful opportunities to name here which my connection with ESMS has provided me with. I am now privileged to be ‘on the other side’ and I am currently Head of Music in a secondary school in East Sussex. ESMS provide fantastic networking opportunities for teachers to share best practice and provide some great workshopping and training days. This has been an invaluable service to teachers to gain confidence and show best practice in the classroom plus not to mention the non specialist primary teachers who I know find this service a lifeline too. It would be a disaster on all levels if this service could not continue.

Amy Bartle

The East Sussex Music Service and Christina Clay in particular were influential and life changing to my achievements. Because of the wonderful teaching from Christina and having the opportunity to learn in several ensembles that ESMS had to offer, I was able to obtain a scholarship at a music school. I would not have been able to succeed in this way without everyone who taught me. I am very thankful for all their support.

Hambel Goodchild

Here is my ‘story’ – feel free to share wherever is necessary to help make a difference to the campaign … I joined East Sussex Academy of Music aged 16 to study for my A Levels. The provision for A Level Music in my home town of Worthing was nowhere near as strong and vibrant as what ESAM had to offer, so I travelled Worthing to Lewes by train for my sixth form years. It was tough starting sixth form college and knowing nobody, but ultimately, it was absolutely worth it as I was able to study in thriving A Level Music and Music Tech classes with other like minded, passionate, musical young people. I had brilliant instrumental tuition for piano and brass whilst at ESAM through ESMS, and am so grateful for the fantastic ensemble experiences of East Sussex Brass Band and East Sussex Youth Orchestra that all helped to prepare me for further study at University of Huddersfield. A few years on – I’m in my 8th year of secondary teaching, and 5th as Subject Leader for Music at an outstanding 11-18 state school in West Sussex, I have completed my MA in Education and also have a role with West Sussex Music working on secondary school engagement and CPD. I have seen EVERY SINGLE DAY of my career thus far the positive impact that music makes on the lives of young people, and a Music Service of well-qualified instrumental teachers, excellent ensembles, and thriving music centres are an integral and necessary part to making this difference to young people in our local communities.

Elizabeth Helen

I’m currently Head of Music at Heathfield Community college and the news that we may be losing this wonderful organisation has been a massive shock to me. The East Sussex Music Service have done a sterling job with hundreds upon hundreds of students that have passed through ESMS at Heathfield CC with these outstanding teachers year in year out. I have seen many students develop their confidence to the extent that they have been able to go onto University or College to study music and have successful careers in their chosen field. The ensemble opportunities, quite frankly, are outstanding. I have watched the South Downs Youth Orchestra on quite a few occasions and been astonished by the quality of the musicianship I was hearing from these young students. Where else would these students have access to this kind of expertise in one area and in such an accessible way? I completely understand that not every student that learns an instrument pursues it as a career, but that is the joy of music and the brilliant ESMS. I have seen many disengaged and disadvantaged students find a direction, hope and most importantly confidence through learning an instrument with the ESMS. I have also seen shy students who are encouraged to come out of their shells by these teachers and develop their confidence. This skills are invaluable in the working world these days. Music has been the tool that has allowed these types of students to develop these skills and go onto to be very successful young adults. This kind experience is invaluable. It cannot be allowed to happen. I will do what ever I can to support the East Sussex Music service and I will urge you to do the same.

Kerry Evenden

I have a story which very few people in my life know about – this is quite painful to write about, but if it helps save the Music Service it has to be worth sharing. At the age of 11, I became very ill with anorexia due to the stress of beginning secondary school. At my worst, I was eating just a few mouthfuls of food each day, lost around 25% of my ideal body weight and came very close to being hospitalised. I was already learning the clarinet with Karen Coleman, and around this time started learning the trumpet with Malcolm Warnes. Playing my instruments gave me something positive to focus on at a highly traumatic time, and the weekly lessons gave me a reason to go into school and keep up with my other learning when my motivation would otherwise have been low – as a result I managed to stay on track in all my subjects. Later on, I also suffered with bulimia (from around age 15-18), and again my music-making helped me to push through some extremely dark moments. Attending Music Centre, Summer School and ESAM took me away from my struggles, and it’s no exaggeration to say that these activities gave me a reason to keep living. The people making these decisions simply don’t see the damage they are doing by taking away instrumental lessons.

Christina Louise

Unlike some others, I don’t have a story about how the music service rescued me at a tricky time. But I do know that I feel profoundly lucky to have been able to be a part of the ensembles, orchestras, music theory lessons, choirs, and individual lessons that I attended during all of my primary and secondary school years. Had it not been for the music service, I would not have had this wonderful, enriching musical education. And it’s a great disappointment that the county council is short-sightedly ignoring all the masses of research that shows that music education has significant positive effects on many aspects of child development. Future East Sussex children deserve the same opportunities that I and my peers had in the 80s and 90s.

Julia Young (Angell)

East Sussex Music Service changed my life. The lessons they offered, the ensembles I was part of, the friends I made and the confidence it gave me meant I achieved academically as well as musically. After a tricky parental breakup when I was 10, playing the trumpet was the only constant. From Brixton to Lewes, the weekly lessons I received gave me a focus, real goals to work towards and a unique skill that made me stand out. I was diagnosed dyslexic – did that mean I was told I couldn’t learn to read music? No, my trumpet teachers helped me find ways around it, working with me to find real solutions, in a way that there just wasn’t time for in school hours. As I got older, I started playing in other ensembles run by the county music service – wind bands, youth orchestras, brass bands and quartets. It was a music teacher who encouraged me to get involved in brass bands more formally and I joined one in Lewes. In 2014 we won the national championships. A year later I started at Sheffield University and again, was encouraged by music service staff to find a band to play with. In 2016, they won the national championships too. Unforgettable experiences, that I would have missed out on had the music service not been around. Without the support and encouragement of those staff I might not ended up at university, or been confident enough to stand up and play solos. The music service served me so well and must be preserved for future generations. From touring Europe, learning to improvise, getting grade 8, to making lifetime friends, ESMS changed my life.

Joe Knight

As many have already said I am also a product of ESMS having had brass lessons from 11-18. Playing in the area, county and national ensembles performing at many fantastic venues, travelling to America and across Europe and most importantly having so many inspiring teachers throughout my formative years. This opened a path for me as a music teacher and am now a Director of Music myself in Derbyshire. I understand the need for responsible spending and sustainability from local government however cannot believe that a fantastic organisation with so much proven success is under threat. Do let us know as soon at there is a petition to sign or anything I can do to help and supporting.

James Emberley

Without East Sussex Music Service I would not have had the opportunities, the expert tuition and the happiness from creating music in all the amazing ensembles it has to offer. From the East Sussex Youth Orchestra and the South Downs Youth Orchestra to East Sussex Wind Orchestra, the Brass band etc. etc., it has an invaluable role to play in the lives of young people. Why do short sighted politicians do not see the value it brings to everyone and why do Musicians/ educators constantly have to justify how life changing music and the service that East Sussex provides, can be.

Pete Davison

ESMS was a big part of my life growing up, from the “instrument showcase” at the start of the year, to learning to recorder with friends in primary school to pestering for clarinet lessons in secondary school! I went on to achieve Grade 7 and met many good friends and shared great experiences along the way. As someone who was naturally into the sciences music presented an alternative challenge to the dross of academic life. In fact, music has been shown to improve performance in these “important” subjects. I attended the Saturday morning music centres, summer schools, performed concerts in large venues to members of the community with the East Sussex Woodwind Sinfonia and was part of the group who got through to the next round of the Music for Youth competiton in Birmingham. Throughout I received dedicated and passionate tuition and it will be a crying shame if this goes to waste. While not pursuing music at university I joined the concert band and played throughout my four years and still today play in my own and join the occasional ensemble and event in the community. ESMS gave me and many others a creative outlet and a different challenge. This is cultural vandalism at its finest and I can’t think of any other arrangement to make music so accessible and not just the preserve of the rich. Kids from all backgrounds made music together with no judgement. We are saving money but at what cost? It will be a very grey and impoverished world to live in without music.

I also took the clarinet into Music GCSE. Finally, the instrument rental scheme is also very important, allowing a child to try out without spending £1000s on an instrument. When I came to purchasing a clarinet the council offered VAT relief. Along with subsidised lessons for the less well off I fail to see how this accessibility will be preserved in private tuition.

And like many above I was the first in my family to learn an instrument, ESMS facilitated that!

Charlie Deacon

I had a lot of social anxiety while at school. Without East Sussex Music Service I would not have had the important opportunity to escape from this, learn new skills, gain self confidence, meet new friends and join numerous after school orchestras and brass bands. The skills and confidence I developed through ESMS have been invaluable in life, and it would certainly be a huge step in the wrong direction if such opportunities were no longer available to today’s kids.

Simon Russell

Without ESMS I don’t know where I would be today. I was bullied at school, and it was only through ESMS that I met likeminded children, and from across the county at that. These friendships have endured, and the skill of music making has stayed with me. I move frequently for work, and wherever I live (either in the UK or internationally) I am immediately able to meet people by joining bands. My life is so much richer for the start that ESMS gave me. I am devastated to learn that today’s children may no longer have the same opportunity to develop and find themselves.

Leah Tether

My kids have been doing music with the music service since the opportunity was given to them at primary school, they are now at uni. It opened up a whole world of opportunities and they made friends for life. It gave them a multitude of skills, not just in playing, but team skills, confidence skills and self belief, I am sure they wouldn’t be where they are today without music. This would have been impossible for us as a family without the support of the music service and all the teachers. This proposal is a massive blow to all those children who won’t get the same opportunities. The world is more than maths and English, my two didn’t go on to study music so this service isn’t just for those who wish a career in music.

Chris warren

I think I started kinder music at the age of 5 and then went onto choirs, learning the saxophone and joining the jazz band until 16! It had been the highlight of my week for all those years and I’m forever grateful for all the experiences it had created. It even inspired me to carry on with music into further education where I studied a BA in songwriting at Bimm London. Being part of the music service was like being part of a family. Music joining kids from all backgrounds to play together is really something special. I really hope that my kids can have a similar experience in the future. I learnt far more from music than I ever did at any academic subjects! Best of luck with the petition. X

Sophia Florence Edna Casson-Smith

It was through East Sussex Music Service that I got my first taste of the Cello, it was a moment that now looking back transformed my opportunities and set me on an amazing journey (which is still continuing). I come from a family who have not perused learning a musical instrument previously. Therefore ESMS nurtured my musical soul and gave me the opportunities to learn, explore, create, perform, access amazing projects and make life long friendships. ESMS helped provide an incredible launch pad into music college through the East Sussex Academy of Music and East Sussex Youth Orchestra provision. I gained a full scholarship to Birmingham Conservatoire and graduated with the Principals Prize. ESMS allows young people from all backgrounds to have a chance to find their music. Cutting any level of provision is taking away potentially transforming opportunities for young people. It is fantastic to hear of other peoples experiences of ESMS, it is an incredibly special community!

Ollie Mansfield

I really don’t know what I’d be doing now without having come through the music service in Lewes as a child. I’m One of 4 siblings and we all spent all day Saturday there, as well as numerous summer schools and evenings in the week – meeting a huge number of different people in a creative atmosphere that wasn’t the school classroom, developing musical skills and life skills along the way. I honestly expected the ESMS to be thriving and going from strength to strength over the years rather than petering out and dying – it’s a travesty and cannot happen. How can our government be so blind and so unintelligently bloody-minded on this subject? Now more than ever we should be able to see the importance of the music service as a basic human right for ALL children to have a creative outlet, regardless of whether they go on to develop careers in Music. This is not about saving education, but about saving humanity!

Beatrice Philips

I am an ex pupil. I am the last of 4 siblings who have all been through the county music system. I started off playing the cornet and ended up playing the tuba. Without the music service I would never have been able to play such a wonderful instrument as I could never have afforded it. I loved every moment

Holly Allen

I am not an ex pupil but moved to Sussex in 1989. I started playing clarinet in East Sussex County Band where I met Clare Moisan who is a dear friend. Now to my children who have both been through county music school. Both Kieran and Gareth being taught by Jane Humberstone and attended Saturday mornings music school. I cannot believe what I’ve heard today. I wait for the petition and will sign it. Good luck and please keep me in the loop.

Helen Jukes-Cheney

Made our son’s life. Xx

Sally Kennedy

I first entered ESMS as part of the junior choir on a Saturday morning and then, following a music demonstration at Christchurch School, started the clarinet at the age of 10. ESMS has given me so much over the years, not only a love of music and the knowledge and skills to go with this, but also national and international experiences, friends for life and so many amazing memories. I cannot even begin to explain how much I benefited from this service. From playing with orchestras (HAYWO, HAYWO, ESWO), singing with the county choir, music summer schools, grade exams and expert musical tuition that also gave me confidence, earned me money playing at events, gave me UCAS points, but most importantly gave me the most amazing experiences as a young person. Who else is fortunate enough to say that they have performed at the Barbican, St John Smith Square, The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, in numerous other concert locations across the county and beyond, in France, on a cross-channel ferry(!), for weddings, business lunches, school concerts, Christmas celebrations and so much more. I am so grateful to all those who inspired and developed my musical career. We worked out recently that, due to my siblings and I, my parents did a ‘Saturday morning music’ run for 20 consecutive years!

Rachel Clare

What can I say, every time I see a friend or member of family who have a family or starting one! I push for them to introduce a musical instrument. Why because hand on heart it made me a well rounded individual. I started clarinet at 13 years old, having seen Duncan play at my school assembly. From there forward my overall grades at school improved dramaticly, I was taken out of speacial need classes and became a confident student who didn’t shy away from developing and learning. I made some amazing friends through out the year group and different schools through playing in Orchestras and ensemble. It also has given me so many beautiful memories with my late father who was my biggest fan and nether let me miss a rehearsal or concert, memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. Taking this service away would truly be awful for the current students and potential, I could not imagine my school life without my clarinet.

Alice Welsh

I am writing as a matter of urgency. News broke today that East Sussex Music service may have its funding withdrawn and be shut down in 2019.

Please take a moment to read this article from around six months ago, which describes what happened in a struggling school when lots of music was added to their learning programme. It demonstrates how achievement and standards of behaviour improved in all subjects, because the young people were stimulated and connected to the world around them; they felt they owned a stake in their society with responsibilities to the people they share it with.


To Maria Caulfied MP for Lewes

Music education has a transformative effect on lives – it had the most profound effect on my life; I am a conductor. All of my education was in the state sector, and were it not for East Sussex Music I would hardly have known of the existence of this amazing art form – classical music. The chance to take part in these life-changing experiences must not be given only to those able to afford private education.

At the end of last year, I had the pleasure of leading a series of concerts organised by East Sussex Music, with over 1,500 children from across a huge area, made up of groups from dozens of different schools all singing together. For many children, it was the first time they had ever performed at an event of that size, and the sheer elation it brought them was incredibly valuable. Many were inspired to pursue singing more seriously, and all of the schools said they were desperate for more opportunities to make music at this level together in future.

Without East Sussex Music, all of those experiences will be lost. The music service provides opportunities at all levels, from this example of ‘first-access’, right the way up to the East Sussex Youth Orchestra and equivalent ensembles, whose quality is of a national standing. All of this would be lost.

I ask you, please, to use whatever means you have available to intervene and secure the future of East Sussex Music. The implications of losing it would be devastating to countless young people in your constituency.

Lee Reynolds

I owe virtually my whole career to music lessons with Duncan through ESMS. If it hadn’t been for learning to play the sax at school I wouldn’t have got a job in music retail which has moved me from strength to strength, and ultimately put me into a position where I’m being trained for management. Not to mention the hours I spend playing music publicly and semi-professionally, with all manner of musicians in different styles and venues!

Phil Kerry

My daughter found secondary school tough and frightening. This spilled over into most other aspects of her life and meant that I had to watch her terrified outside East Sussex Youth Concert Band for many months, trying to pluck up courage to go in. With encouragement she made it, enjoyed it, loved it, lived it and went on to gain Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award with clarinet playing as one of her key skills. She will be presented with her award at Buckingham Palace on 17 May. She is out of contact at the moment out in the bush in South Africa pursuing her love of wildlife with complete strangers. Do you think she would have made such immense strides without the joy and support of the East Sussex Music Service? Music nurtures the soul and creates extraordinary individuals.

Nicola Beart

I was 10 when a demonstration by the teachers of the East Sussex County Music Service inspired me to take up the clarinet. I read every detail on the letter; carefully noting that discounted or free lessons and instrument hire were available to children from families on low incomes. Armed with this information I brought the letter home to Mum. Without the County Music Service my family could never have been able to afford to give me music lessons. Little did they (or I) know it would turn into a life long love and commitment to music. After working my way up through the local and County ensembles I was accepted into the National Youth Orchestra. I became the first person in my family to graduate after earning a place at the Royal Northern College of Music. Music has given me opportunities I never would have dreamt of. Opportunities to travel, friendships and allowing me to perform at most of the major musical venues, including the Royal Albert Hall. I still play with my work orchestra and the Central Band of the Royal British Legion raising thousands per year for charity.

Karin Lambert

I started playing violin and clarinet in Primary school with the ESMS. I am now 22, studying at the University of Cambridge and due to start a PhD at Oxford in October. ESMS provided me with so much as I was growing up; a new way of learning, exemplary teaching from staff who truly cared, and a group of friends that I will never forget. It always represented so much more than making music, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without its impact.

Eleanor Baker

All four men in my family have had their lives impacted for good by East Sussex Music Services. The fact that he had learned to play the guitar at school has helped our son after he suffered the consequences of a malignant brain tumour. The physical therapy of working on the coordination of his hands and fingers again in order to be able to do something he loves has been invaluable in helping him recover to a certain extent. Our youngest son’s life has been so impacted by learning the saxophone that his career is in selling them worldwide as well as being involved with various bands. When he retired my husband was able to take a two year A- level in music technology in Lewes This has enabled him to help with an enormous number of choirs and voluntary groups. The skills he acquired prove the value of musical education even into senior age. Our eldest son also learned piano and trumpet up to Grade 3 with the Music Service and a love of music has stayed with him and recently he learned to play the bass. So PLEASE do not stop the teaching of music and especially of the instruments.

Margaret Kerry

My two daughters, who are both now in their twenties and at university “grew up” with ESMS – both started lessons at primary school (violin) and this led to Ellie also playing clarinet and trying viola not to mention studying musicianship to gain an understanding of the theory. Both girls played in ensembles and Ellie played in the orchestra and Concert Band. The continuity of teaching, playing solo and as part of an orchestra / band has had many benefits – patience, perseverance, confidence building,development of listening skills, dedication and mixing with people from outside their usual peer group – some of whom who will remain friends for life – her “clarinet family”! With twelve years of being a member of ESMS, the continuity of teaching and opportunities to perform to audiences big and small was second to none. The transitions from primary school to secondary school and then to college all had the common thread of having lessons and playing her instruments which provided a stable and familiar anchor. We need ESMS to continue in order to give more children the opportunities ours had at school and beyond with such a caring and dedicated group of teachers.

Julie Baker

Without East Sussex Music Service for the last 11 years, and their dedicated teaching staff, my daughter would not be living her dream and attending Royal Academy of Music in September.

Sue Gilbert

We moved to East Sussex when I was 13 – an awful time to have to start again. I never really settled at my new school and was affected by what I now realise was discreet and targeted bullying. What there was for me here though were superb musical opportunities and I was lucky enough to join ESWO, ESYO and to gain a place on what was then called the Prep Course. I look back on those days and realise what support those teachers and rehearsals gave me. My passion for music defined me as I was growing up and I have made a career as a musician and teacher. It would not have happened if were not for the music service and I am devastated to hear this awful news.

Laura Jane

Hope this isn’t too much but there’s nothing I’d value any higher learning music growing up. Edit it however: I don’t need to mention the all-round benefits of having a musical education as a child; that by taking clarinet lessons by the ESMS I was able to understand what it meant to learn, improve, and achieve, and apply that mindset to my everyday life; that by performing saxophone at the regular county music concerts I was able to develop the confidence no other extra-curricular could stimulate; and that by studying percussion could I not just master a natural sense of time and rhythm, but improve in the certain thinking behind revising Maths and Science. Everything I learnt from the Music Service allowed me to transform my academic ability entirely. I was never a very clever as a kid, nor did I have the father figure around to inspire such achievement. For me, the East Sussex Music Service and all its classes, lessons, master classes, and social events empowered me to take responsibility for my own studies and success. By pursuing music since age 10 I’ve embraced the life lessons ESMS taught me like a pledge. Even now while I pursue two monetising music startup businesses as a 22 year old Master’s Student in Hong Kong, it’s the UK musicians and entrepreneurs inspired by music which I represent. The moment I get enough funding, I vow to return the contribution the ESMS has contributed to me and thousands of other children. The UK, once the leading supporter of music extra curricular in Europe and maybe even the rest of the world, seems now to be letting it slip away, with the likes of China who, with bulging economies has committed to investing millions (£s) into its music education nationally, as a leading nation which recognises the true value of teaching a child music. I hope that the UK government doesn’t take away the one thing which allowed me to get to where I am, and I hope that I can make a contribution before they make this sacrifice, although I’m worried it’s too late…

David Wexler

Back in the day when Nancy Plummer ruled the East Sussex music service with a rod of steel I was there to experience a wonderful musical training. I started piano lessons with a county teacher at 6 years old. At 18 I decided late in the day to pursue a musical career. Nan Plummer who we had all grown up loving to hate made that happen for me by helping to get me enrolled on the prep course in Lewes which was one of the happiest and most fulfilled years of my life. The reason she helped me? Because despite the demands of her job she would regularly attend local school concerts and had heard me play recently at a Hailsham School concert. I went on to study music and spent the rest of my life as a professional musician, teaching and performing. It has been a wonderful and fulfilling career which I still love every moment of and which was facilitated by a top grade music service in East Sussex. The current new on the service is devastating. I would say watch out powers that be-Nan Plummer will be turning in her grave….

Mary Louise Brazier

I started secondary school and did not find it easy due to extensive bullying. I started flute lessons and this enabled me an escape as it meant I could attend lunchtime and after school musical clubs. Without music I don’t think I would have survived secondary school. Please do not take away this wonderful service it would be very detrimental to the health of our future

Janine Ward

“Arriving at secondary school as a lonely misfit child, the ESMS gave me so much more than just some lessons, but also a chance to play in many ensembles and orchestras, which gave me many good friends that my school couldn’t, as well as making me part of some amazing music and building a skill that I can now enjoy for the rest of my life.”

Stephen Owen

“For me, music grew from being something I didn’t care much about to one of my primary interests thanks almost entirely to my time with the Music Service – largely in part to their accessibility. So many of my most treasured memories from the past few years are from ESMS events and rehearsals and lessons, and I’d hate to think that no other children might get the chance to make their own.”

Autumn Pelesova

2 thoughts on “Testimonials”

  1. I studied violin through East Sussex Music Service with Adrian Davies. As well as my weekly lessons, I was a music centre member throughout my childhood, moving up through the groups: Paganini Strings, Handel String Orchestra, SDYO, ESSCO and ESYO. My love of rehearsing and performing was nurtured throughout this time, and when I completed my work experience (age 15) with Adrian during the summer school week, my mind was made up: this was the career for me. Seeing the enthusiasm of staff and pupils, and the enjoyment and progress over the week inspired me to becoming a violin teacher.

    Following A levels at the ESAM and a music college degree, seven years later I got my dream job as violin teacher and ensemble leader with West Sussex Music Service. Much of my learning experience shapes my teaching today, and I am grateful and fortunate that I was lucky enough to have such a well rounded musical education, with such enthusiastic and inspiring teachers. It would be a real tragedy for East Sussex Music Service to be split up and the opportunities I had not be available for future children.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was extremely fortunate to grow up in East Sussex in the 1980s. East Sussex Youth Orchestra, which I joined in 1983 and led in 1988/9, provided most of the orchestral training which has now allowed me to be a professional musician. Entry to it in those days was intensely competitive, thanks to the superb work East Sussex Music Service was doing at all levels and which it has continued to do in increasingly straitened circumstances. It’s not just beneficial for those who want to take music as a career: so many academic studies have proved that the study of music enriches children’s learning and development across all disciplines. The Music Service deserves East Sussex County Council’s unfailing support, every pound spent on it will pay dividends.

    Charles Mutter
    Associate Leader, BBC Concert Orchestra


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