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Young Musicians Programme - Meet Vanessa

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Vanessa (17) from Felling joined Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme (YMP) when she was 6 years old.

“I was enjoying singing and playing a lot on my dad’s out of tune piano with my sister and this made my mum think it would be good for us both to start music lessons She looked for different opportunities, but mostly teachers wanted children who could already read and who were aged 7 or older. It was a friend of the family who put us onto the Young Musicians Programme.” she said

Vanessa has joined many classes in the programme and played wind and folk instruments as well as learning to sing.

“It was important to me to try different instruments, as it took a few tries to find what suited me. The opportunity to deepen my love of folk music has been particularly important to me. I’m motivated to get out of bed at the weekend because I love being there.”

Vanessa said that her love of music and the support from those around her at YMP has enabled her to grow and develop over the years.

“Music has been one of the things that kept me going through the tough times. It’s given me the opportunity to develop a whole part of my life. Thanks to the teaching and learning I benefitted from, I’ve been able to get a music scholarship for my sixth form and am attending a small school where accommodations are being made for my dyslexia. Attending YMP helped me not to give up on education when I was having such a tough time at school.”

In 2021/22, families involved with the programme received over £230,000 of bursaries and many students don’t pay any fees at all.

Vanessa attends YMP with the support of a grant. She credits the bursary scheme with enabling her to reach her potential and is considering a future in music working with early years or continuing her studies at a music conservatoire.

“It has allowed me to do all these activities which would have been out of reach. The activities have had a massive impact on me, it’s part of my identity. I’ll keep being part of choirs and orchestras even if I don’t continue to study music.”

Hannah Fumoleau, Young Musicians Programme Manager, said: “We’re really keen to encourage applicants from the widest range of backgrounds, making sure everybody has the chance to learn music with us.  We have specialist skills in working with children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances. We want to make sure there no barriers to taking part and financial support is available through grants and bursaries.”

For children and young people aged 4 -14, there is a mix of musicianship classes, foundation instrument lessons in strings, wind, brass and singing alongside choirs and ensembles – no audition is required. Young people aged 10 -16 can join one of the training ensembles to explore musical interests in a relaxed and enjoyable weekly class.

Young people with the passion and potential to take it further can audition for the Centre for Advanced Training which is for 10–19-year-olds. It involves one-to-one lessons, ensemble training, music theory and history classes alongside a wide variety of performance opportunities. Young people aged 13-19 can also audition for four different youth ensembles where they can hone playing and singing skills.

Support from the Department for Education’s national Music and Dance Scheme, as well as further bursary funding from David Goldman Trust and Netherton Park Trust means that young people can benefit from world-class music training whatever their personal circumstances.

Applications for the 22/23 school year are now CLOSED for most programmes.

We are, however, still able to take late applications for our Training and Youth Ensembles – please complete the application form and then contact us on if you are interested.

If you have missed the deadline for CAT, Foundation and Step Up Programmes but have a very strong interest, you can email us on for further information on waiting lists.