News and stories Stories Alice Whitten Growing up we had an old baby-grand piano at home, which I am told I would attempt to play from very early on in my life. Recognising my enthusiasm to play, my parents gifted me piano lessons with a local piano teacher for my 5th birthday. 13 years later I am still studying with the same piano teacher, who has supported me through 8 grades and a diploma, with my second diploma imminent. I didn’t play the violin until the age of 7 when it was offered to me by my primary school via what was then called Worcestershire Youth Music. This was to be the start of my journey with Severn Arts and the many opportunities that were to come. I joined Bromsgrove Area Music Centre a few years after starting violin lessons, gaining my first taste of orchestral/ensemble playing. I progressed through the various orchestras, eventually earning a place in Worcestershire Youth Orchestra. I have fond memories of playing in both the combined area music centre and the intermediate orchestra at Symphony Hall, one of the world’s greatest concert venues, Symphony Hall, and other wonderful concerts and gigs. Being part of Severn Arts has allowed me to be part of such an amazing orchestra and to explore areas of musicianship that I simply would not have been able to do on my own: a few years ago I joined Worcestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra as their pianist, this give me the opportunity to branch out into jazz piano playing. It wasn’t that long ago that I used to look up to and admire the Youth Orchestra and the Jazz Orchestra at those Symphony Hall Gala concerts! I have always aspired to be part of such a group and thanks to Severn Arts, I have become a versatile musician. Being involved with music has given me a wonderful and valuable skill set and helped me to make friends for life. Across the various ensembles and events that I have played in I have had the privilege of meeting many wonderful people, from fellow players to teachers and conductors. Through music I am able to connect with people in a unique and special way and have the opportunity to play in ensembles with some simply outstanding musicians. This summer, I will be sitting my A-Levels, which include A-Level Music. I am hoping to go on to study music at the University of Sheffield, specialising in Music Psychology and/or Conducting. The skills I have learnt through will be invaluable to me throughout my entire career and I would like to thank the teachers, conductors and mentors I have worked with over the last 11 years for positively shaping my life and the lives of so many young people across the county.