* Cllr Mark Young, pianist Morwen Blythin, tutor Dylan Cernyw and conductor Sionedd Terry with young Denbighshire Primary Choir members ready for rehearsal.
A new youth band and a children’s choir are offering young people a route back to normality after the easing of Covid restrictions.
Both have been set up for free by the award-winning North Wales Music Co-operative which has sister organisations in Wrexham and Denbighshire.
Sessions are free to join and, at the youth band, participants do not need to own their own instruments but can borrow from the Co-op’s supply.
The idea is to make music more accessible for young people of all ages and backgrounds as well as boosting their mental well-being in the wake of hardships caused by the pandemic.
After just a few weeks in operation the band in Wrexham and the choir in Denbighshire have proved an invaluable lifeline for children across the two counties.
Founder and Head of Service Heather Powell set up the not-for-profit co-operatives nearly a decade ago after funding cuts were made to music education services across Wales. Today they offer music sessions in 200 schools, covering more than 5,000 children, and they have more than 70 self-employed tutors on their books.
Heather thanked local and national arts and community organisations for their support, including Denbighshire and Wrexham Councils, Offa Community Council and the National Lottery community grants project.
She said: “We have faced many challenges keeping music lessons alive over the two years of the pandemic. With social distancing in force, face to face lessons were off the table and some instruments could not be played at all.
“It is massively rewarding not only to see our existing services back up and running again but the addition of new sessions like the youth band and children’s choir.”
The choir for primary school aged children meets at the Denbighshire Music Co-operative headquarters on Spencer Industrial Estate, Denbigh.
Co-operative leaders are overjoyed they have been able to set it up in time for the staging of the 2022 Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbigh.
The choir is led by classically trained mezzo soprano Sioned Terry who has performed at international sporting events, for the Royal family, and sung alongside international tenors Rhys Meirion and Wynn Evans.
She is helped with the Denbighshire Primary Choir by fellow Denbighshire Music Co-operative tutors, Dylan Cernyw and Morwen Blythin.
The choir has about 20 members to date at free weekly one hour sessions, where they are busy rehearsing a mix of Welsh and English language music.
Sioned is delighted to be back teaching face to face and says even though the choir meets after school time when children are naturally winding down from their lessons, they are still full of enthusiasm.
She said: “We have been hugely encouraged by how many children turn up each week and how keen they are to learn new songs. We have a good mix of both boys and girls, and they’re all looking forward to getting out in the community to do their first public performances.”
Dylan added that one of their favourites was the Sound of Music classic Do, Ray, Me, which teaches children the musical scale while actually singing it.
He revealed that they are hoping one of their first ever public performances will be at the Denbighshire County Council Queen’s Jubilee Service in June.
He said: “It would be a great opportunity to celebrate our music and our talented young people while also being a wonderful thankyou to Denbighshire County Council for the support they have given us.
Denbighshire councillor Mark Young, who is also Denbighshire Music Co-operative Chairman, said the co-operative was a credit to the local community.
He said: “We all know how good music is for the soul and we are blessed to have such strong advocates of music in the heart of our community especially over these last few difficult years.
“Heather and the whole co-operative team have done us proud keeping music lessons alive and offering our young people the chance to de-stress through their various music themed activities.
“It’s also great news that we now have a new up and coming young choir right here on our doorstep in the year when the Urdd Eisteddfod, one of Europe’s largest touring festivals, is due to be staged in Denbigh this spring.
“What a brilliant testament to our region’s musical heritage.”
The Urdd Eisteddfod was originally due to visit Denbigh in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. It is now scheduled to be held in the town from May 30-June 4.
The Denbigh Primary Choir meets on Thursdays at the Denbighshire Music Co-operative headquarters, Spencer Industrial Estate, Denbigh, from 4.30-5.30pm. For details visit: denbighshiremusic.com