B Sharp PROGRESSION STORIES by Matt Hartnell
Participant 2009. Currently Assistant Music Leader.
Graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford 2013.
“B Sharp is a unique project in that it allows for the progression of any age group or any standard of musician. There are opportunities for beginner musicians to work with the industry professionals such as John K Miles and Billy Bragg and for more experienced ‘trainees’ to learn the teaching methods of these professionals. Whoever you are, there’s always a pathway to further your ability at B Sharp, both musically and socially.
The music produced and performed by the B Sharp team will always be of a very high standard as the band includes everyone from beginners through to professional players. This creates an interesting dynamic and a friendly atmosphere where everyone enjoys contributing musically to the show and performing to the public. It has been hugely inspiring for me to play with more experienced musicians and I feel it really drives younger members in the band to take music seriously and enjoy performing to the best of their ability.
The Trainees scheme allowed me to learn different teaching and leadership methods which eventually lead to me paid work teaching a local samba group. It helped me to engage students and pass on my knowledge more easily through the use of games, exercises and group work which I picked up from the original B Sharp tutors and trainees. This has been invaluable experience for me as I wish to teach in the future as well as the fact that it can be put on my CV to help me with university and job applications. This kind of training is a rare thing to experience before degree level and it sets one apart from other musicians because I believe that working in a team, engaging and dealing with people are as big a part of being in the music industry as actually performing on your instrument.
Despite the countless performances and workshops that B sharp has run I think there could be room for improvement in some areas. Perhaps B sharp would become more popular if young musicians had something to take away with them, like a CD of the B Sharp songs. Simple recording sessions could be set up with a bit of funding so B Sharp’ers can show their friends what they have done, creating more interest between young people in the area. The recording process could also facilitate training for those who want to learn about music technology as it is such an integral part of the music business today.
Without B sharp in our local area the youth music scene would be entirely down to the youth themselves. I know many opportunities and collaborations, which would not have arisen without B Sharp and its different facets, from the formation of bands to Inter-age group recording projects.
I think B sharp is the most inspiring project in the area and it needs to grow in order to show everyone its full potential as a hub for local musical activity.
I am currently studying a degree music performance at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford It’s something that I may not have done without the help and direction of B Sharp. I used B Sharp performances and projects as examples of my musical experience when applying and received a non-interview offer which I later found out was based on the strength of my application. I’m thoroughly enjoying the course so and hopefully I’ll be back to work on some new B Sharp projects, and pass on some new ideas I’ve learnt so far!”