Student Stories

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At Berkshire Music Trust, what matters most to us is our students.

Every one of them is special, and they all have their own unique musical journey, and their own story to tell.

Here are just a few of them…


Oliver tells us all about his Musical Journey!

Oliver thoroughly enjoys playing the saxophone, and he credits his success to the excellent teaching of Mr. Adrian Woods. He plays in the Wokingham Initial Wind Band with our teacher Daniel Jones and has recently performed in a carol concert, where he played a solo in Once in Royal David's City. Oliver's Year 5 school friends were thrilled and cheered for him when he returned to class.

Aside from playing in concerts, Oliver also visited the Ascot Grange care home with his choir, where he played the same song for the elderly residents, who he believes enjoyed his performance. He has been taking lessons with Mr. Woods for almost three years now and has passed his grade one. Oliver is excited to take on the challenge of grade 3. Oliver also enjoys playing the saxophone for his classmates, where he performs fun tunes like Believer and Hedwig's Theme. Overall, Oliver's experience playing the saxophone has been fulfilling and enjoyable.


Megan achieves role in National Youth Orchestra!

Megan has always loved music. Her first instrument was violin, which she started at age six, but when she was eight, her Berkshire Music Trust bassoon teacher (Cath Millar) came to school and introduced the bassoon to them. She had a few lessons and knew it was what she wanted to play. She started playing bassoon in Appleby Woodwind (now Let’s Play band) at Newbury Music Centre when eight years old and worked her way up to Newbury Senior Wind band when she was 12. She played with this band for 5 years as well as being part of Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra, Acer Minor (bassoon ensemble) and the Reading double reed ensemble. Megan now studies at Wells Cathedral School where she takes part in other exciting ensembles.

Megan’s met so many lifelong friends through playing at Berkshire Music Trust and the various groups she belonged to have really helped her playing and confidence. With the help that she’s been given by Cath Millar, who has always encouraged her to work hard and believe in herself, Megan is really excited to be part of the National Youth Orchestra for the second year in 2024 to play with musicians of such a high standard and to inspire other young musicians.


Joseph achieves role in National Youth Orchestra!

Joseph started learning violin, piano and guitar when he was six years old, and used to play regularly at a residential home for the elderly. Joseph has performed in ensembles at Berkshire Music Trust and at school for many years. Joseph sang in a local church choir as a treble and now as a bass, and he is also a member of the National Youth Choir. He took up viola seriously just over a year ago when he formed a string quartet with some friends, and then got into the final of the Berkshire Young Musician of the Year String Competition and took his ARSM diplomas in both violin and viola.

Joseph now plays viola in BYSE and leads the section in BYSO. He loves the instrument and its repertoire and is looking forward to the exciting and challenging orchestral music planned for this year. He is excited to be joining NYO as a violist and will enjoy attending the courses and getting to know the other members of the orchestra. This will be a great experience in preparation for next year when he hopes to study at music college, and ultimately become a professional violist.


Tara achieves Co-Leader in National Youth Orchestra!

Tara started playing the violin aged 6 and joined her first Berkshire Music Trust ensemble, Reading String Orchestra, when she was 10. She has been a member of Camerata and BYSO for the past seven years and has been leader of BYSO for the last three. She has just sadly performed in her last ever BYSO concert, playing the Scheherazade violin solos, which made for a very special final concert that she will not forget!

Tara was a member of the National Children’s Orchestra for three years from the age of 11 and spent five years travelling to London on Saturdays to attend the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music.

She first became involved with the National Youth Orchestra in 2021, through their NYO Inspire online activities, and was invited to join NYO for their summer residency and concert that year. She played again with the orchestra for several residencies before first auditioning for NYO in September last year. She was in the first violin section for 2023 and is delighted to have been appointed Co-Leader of NYO for 2024. She is looking forward to the challenges and added responsibilities that this role will bring! Last month Tara was lucky enough to perform Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata in St George’s Chapel as part of the Windsor Festival with Camerata, due to winning Berkshire Young Musician of the Year 2023. She is now practising hard for her performance of Dvorak’s violin concerto in November with Reading Symphony Orchestra, after also winning their Young Musician Competition earlier this year. Tara is a student at Farnborough Sixth Form College and hopes to study Modern Languages at university.


Isaac Achieves Role as Principal Tuba in National Youth Orchestra!

Where it all started!

Being the 3rd of 4 children, when it came to Isaac's turn to choose an instrument, he already had a clear idea that he wanted to play the tuba - he'd seen it glinting in the back of the orchestras his sisters played in! He thought it would be easy to hide behind at the back of the orchestra! Berkshire Music Trust organised for a good quality instrument to be purchased so Isaac would have something to play. This was paid for with money secured from Greenham Common Trust. Soon after he started playing on this tuba, he was invited to perform in a Greenham Common Trust concert at the Corn Exchange. This was the first time he performed alone with tuba as a solo instrument and it was this concert that made him realise the tuba was not necessarily a background instrument!

"I have been inspired by those around me: my siblings, my teachers and other young musicians. Music is where I find 'my people'; where I can really be myself."

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Isaac loved the tuba from the start, and was soon racing through the grades, achieving grade 8 last year. Following in his sister's footsteps, Isaac auditioned for the National Children's orchestra when he turned 10. He got in every year following that until he was too old! He also got into BYSO a few years ago and also plays with Newbury Symphony Orchestra when they need him. The first time he played with them, he was 14, and the youngest player ever to have done so. He was in the Newbury Weekly News! Last year, he was part of NYO Inspire where he joined various courses, culminating in a tour of schools in the North East. Isaac often plays his tuba with his siblings - they have a cello, a bassoon and a french horn in the family. Together, they have arranged music, and play together. Isaac has started a collection of brass instruments. Currently, he has a trumpet which he played in a school concert last year, a trombone which was the star of house music a couple of years ago when the house band played 'Everybody wants to be a cat', and a tenor horn. He also messes around on the piano and can actually sing pretty well - he was in BYC for a couple of years before leaving to focus on his tuba.


Charlie’s love of music was taken to another level when he watched School of Rock at five years old

Mini Maestros and beyond!

Charlie’s first experience of Berkshire Music Trust was a weekly Mini Maestros class, together with free choir membership. He loved singing, dancing, and playing instruments and soon progressed to piano lessons. His enthusiasm for practising has paid off and he’s progressing well (although his mum won’t let him take up the drums quite yet!)

“I love music. I like playing piano and singing because it’s fun. I love the music in the Trolls movie and The Greatest Showman.”

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A clear progression path

Charlie has now moved up to a higher level choir, and has begun learning to play the guitar too. There’s just no stopping him!

Calvin and Emily

A visit to an Open Day at Berkshire Music Trust ignited a passion for music and amazing story of what can be achieved with practice!

Learning together

As siblings, Calvin and Emily were able to enjoy their violin and piano lessons together and joined a music centre choir, on the advice of staff they met at the Open Evening. Their progression has been astounding, and the level of practice they have committed to has definitely paid off. They are members of several music groups, including the prestigious Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra

Calvin – “The teachers at Maestros are great and a huge inspiration.” Emily – “I really enjoy ensembles at the music centre as it is so much fun learning and making music with friends. It is the highlight of the week!”

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Grade 8 and beyond!

Calvin and Emily have both passed Grade 8 on violin and piano isn’t far behind. With such a strong work ethic, their future possibilities look really bright, and a career in music is definitely an option for either of them


Reuben proved that small can indeed be mighty when he decided to take on the bassoon!

Small but mighty!

Reuben didn’t want to follow the crowd so he chose to play the bassoon at eight years old. Luckily bassoons come in all different sizes – and Reuben has now moved up from the mini version to a short reach bassoon (which is still taller than him!)

“I thought learning the bassoon would be really difficult because there are nine keys for one thumb! But I can do it now and it's fun. I love being the bass line in bands.”

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Friday night is music night

Reuben loved music lessons so much that he now also plays recorder, piano and drums. Friday night is music night in Reuben’s house as he plays in two Friday music centre ensembles, including one with his brother


National Open Youth Orchestra member Oscar is a star percussionist

Challenges will not hold him back

Oscar discovered his passion for music at the age of seven. With the support of his Berkshire Music teacher Luke, his mum and his school, he became an accomplished percussionist and pianist. He feels that music is one thing that makes him feel free from the challenges that his autism can bring.

"I enjoy all the things I do with the Berkshire Maestros."

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National orchestra success

In 2018, Oscar joined the National Open Youth Orchestra. He has since performed at the Barbican. Now aged 17, he is enthusiastically working towards Grade 7 on percussion and he plans to go to music college.


Playing music can make a fantastic career – Rachel feels lucky to do what she loves every day

A variety of instruments

Rachel’s love of the flute began at nine years old and quickly expanded into also learning piano, clarinet and saxophone. She progressed through ensembles to the county youth orchestra. Performing with our ensembles not only improved her musicianship, but also played a key role in her personal development.

“From when I first picked up an instrument, music has inspired me, challenged me and rewarded me. I’m so grateful that I have been able to make a career out of doing something I love.”

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From Berkshire Music Trust to the RAF

Rachel’s experiences at Berkshire Music Trust led her to study at Birmingham Conservatoire. She is now a musician with the RAF and has travelled the world, playing music at some incredible venues. She still takes moments to appreciate how fortunate she is to have turned her childhood hobby into an amazing career.


New friends, confidence and lots of fun have been bonuses of Robert’s musical journey

Off to a flying start!

Robert was inspired to take up the trombone when he watched his friends performing in a school concert. He practised hard, and played in his first concert just a few weeks later. Many more concerts have followed as he became more skilled and grew in confidence.

“One of my fondest musical memories will be playing in front of the Eiffel Tower on a music tour.”

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Great friends

Playing an instrument and being part of ensembles has enabled him to make some great friends. It has also improved his confidence in performing, and has given him some wonderful experiences that he will treasure for life.


Growing her love of music from Berkshire Maestros to being Wellington Scholar and achieving her diploma.

Mini Maestros and beyond:

15-year-old Malaysian born Yi-Ann started Mini Maestros when she was 3 and cello lessons under Judith Barnby when she was 4. She continued these alongside piano and voice, through attending multiple ensembles under Berkshire Music Trust: Sunday Academy, Correlli Strings, Cellissimo, Berkshire Young Voices and the Berkshire Youth Symphony Orchestra. Her love for music grew from there, where through Berkshire Music Trust she explored and developed various musical skills. She states that her love for music is centralised around its calming and grounding effect upon her.

“I’m so grateful for Berkshire Music Trust, I wouldn’t have all the opportunities I’ve been given otherwise, like making it through into the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain for the past few years, a masterclass with the Two Cellos at the Royal Albert Hall.”

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From Berkshire Music Trust to performing as a cello soloist

Being a music scholar at Wellington College Yi-Ann is currently studying cello under Lorraine Deacon. Last year, she achieved a distinction in her ARSM diploma (cello). Some of her successes in music competitions includes becoming the overall winner of the prestigious Montgomery Prize, the LVS Ascot Music Festival, and the Wantage Music Festival.

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