Hi! I’m Joseph, I play the French horn, and for the past three years I have been a member of two different Severn Arts’ ensembles. I started off in the Worcestershire Intermediate Wind Orchestra (WIWO) in 2018, and in January 2021, I joined Worcestershire Youth Orchestra (WYO).

In May I was nominated by Ian from WYO to take part in Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Leap Youth Ensemble (RBC LYE). This is a very new ensemble started in 2020, that gives young musicians around the country the opportunity to work with students and staff at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. At the end of each project a recording is made that is released to the public and shown below. This year I was one of 70 young people from 12 areas around the country who were invited to take part in the second project. Musicians on the programme that I played with came from Berkshire; Cornwall; Gloucestershire; Leicestershire; London; Northamptonshire, Oldham; Sheffield; Tees Valley; Telford; and Worcestershire.


I was really delighted to be asked to take part, and although the project consisted of purely zoom rehearsals, the online rehearsals that I had been attending at WYO had been such good fun, I was really keen to take part. The letter I received from RBC LYE stated that the social side of the programme was as important as the musical aims, so I was also looking forward to meeting other musicians, and playing games and quizzes with the group, as we had done as WYO. I was not disappointed with this as we played multiple games during the sessions, including musical bingo (which I won!)

I took part in three two-hour-long rehearsals after school on Tuesday nights in June. The sessions always started with some uplifting feel-good funky music playing as we joined, which created a nice, chilled atmosphere. As a full group, we were then given instructions on how to record and told what we would be doing for the session. Next, there would be a technical playing warm-up to focus on long notes and breathing within the brass section. We were sent warm-up pieces, which I thought were brilliant as we worked on them with backing tracks, so they fitted into an actual piece. We all played them at the same time (on mute), but it felt like proper music-making. Having tips from staff at the RBC was very useful, particularly since halfway through the project I got a new horn, which had the thumb-valve reversed. I was therefore also re-learning how to operate the horn!

After the warm-ups we practised the piece as a section and talked about what we needed to work on. We would focus on those specific parts as a brass section before moving into instrumental sections. This way, I also got to interact with just the other French horn players as well as the brass section as a whole, and work on issues specific to our instrument.

Finally, we would all come back from our break-out rooms to the main zoom session and work on the piece all together. We made the recordings in our own time, and were asked to produce separate audio-only recordings as well as video recordings. This was done to produce a better quality of sound.

After the video recording was put together, there was a launch party in July, which I was unfortunately unable to attend as I was on holiday in Scotland.

I think it’s great though to be able to see and listen to the result of our rehearsals and work together, and to be able to share it with friends and family around the world. I had a really fantastic time working with the Leap Youth Ensemble and am delighted that Severn Arts nominated me to take part. 

Joseph, Aged 14.

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