Friday, 12 August 2022

Music school embraces smart phone technology

SCHOOL may be well and truly out for the summer — but some people are already

SCHOOL may be well and truly out for the summer — but some people are already busy making plans for what comes next.

As the founder of Henley Music School, Laura Reineke certainly falls into that category.

Never one to let the grass grow under her feet, she revealed that the school’s next big move will be to welcome music-loving youngsters who enjoy nothing more than composing tunes on their tablets and smartphones.

“We’ve just had a meeting and we’re going to change a lot of the groups, so we’ll now run things like apps-based music,” she said.

“There’s an app called Garage Band where kids will bring in their own devices, so we can do some composition work, we can do a bit of production, recording, that sort of thing.”

For those unfamiliar with the work of the Henley Music School, its most recent public outing was at the Henley Festival’s Salon Marquee just over a month ago.

The lunchtime event was a chance for the school to showcase its many and varied groups based around different instruments and areas of musical interest.

Among those performing on the day were the brass quartet, the clarinet and sax quintet, and the rock and pop band.

As Laura explains, the way the school works is that she and a group of fellow tutors offer individual music tuition at locations including local schools and people’s homes.

With this comes the chance to play in specific interest groups along the lines of those who appeared at the Henley Festival.

These include string quartets, flute trios, guitar groups and others based around wind, brass and string instruments.

Crucial to the success of the school — which now caters for more than 150 children — are its monthly “music school Sundays” at Shiplake College.

Said Laura: “All the kids get together and we have different ensembles and groups. It’s a sort of moveable feast, in that we’re doing the clubs that the kids want to do — so it’s fun but they’re still learning things.”

The school’s youngest pupils are four years old, while the oldest has just done her GCSEs — and Laura is determined that there should be no barriers to entry for children of any age.

Such is the thinking behind the introduction of the apps-based group, which will feature as part of the music school Sundays from the start of the new term on September 13.

Said Laura: “It’s a perfect way in because they can do clubs that don’t involve playing an instrument to begin with, while they start an instrument.

“And then when they get better at those they can then go on to do the other clubs that do involve playing an instrument.”

Musical instruments typically don’t come cheap, but the music school is now able to offer a range of instrument scholarships.

Added Laura: “If a child can’t afford it they don’t pay, so we can offer any level of bursary, both for individual lessons and the music school Sundays.”

If you’re a parent with a child who wants to learn, for example, violin, how does it work?

“They can try for free, one Sunday morning a month,” says Laura. “They’d probably start off in a musicianship class, or keyboards, or this app-based group. Then they’d move on to another class — there are three sets of clubs they could do. Then after the tuck shop break — which is the most important bit! — they go to their next group.

“The older ones look after the younger ones. We have a tuck shop monitor and it’s great, so the younger ones look up to the older ones.”

The school was founded by Laura in 2010 and now has the status of a community interest company, limited by guarantee.

Supporters include the Material World Charitable Foundation founded by George Harrison — and a dedication on the school’s homepage states that it is “in memory of” the former Beatle and Henley resident, who died in 2001.

Reflecting this, the school’s ethos is strongly egalitarian. Said Laura: “Music is often seen as an elitist thing that people can’t afford, but actually they can afford it because they don’t have to pay if they can’t afford it.

“We want any child who is interested and willing to give it a go, really. And nobody leaves! We just get more kids coming because it’s really good fun. All ages.”

Laura says that she hopes the school will take part in this year’s Henley Living Advent Calendar, which takes the form of 30-minute performances at different venues in the town every night in December until Christmas Eve, and in next year’s Henley Youth festival.

For further details of the school’s activities, go to

For more information, email henleymusicschool@hotmail. or call her on 07989 396210.

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