Huntingdonshire Music School Association

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

‘It’s Time We Made a Noise About Our Music’

HUMS Sax LineHunts Post Article

Huntingdonshire Music School celebrates its 40th year next year. Over 400 musicians range from a guitarist, aged four to a sax player, aged 83. The school is one of Huntingdon’s best kept secrets. Report by ANGELA SINGER.

WHEN Derrick Baughan, aged 50, joined the woodwind ensemble at Hums - Huntingdonshire Music School - and sat down with his saxophone, the 12-year-old next to him said: “Don’t worry, don’t be nervous, everyone is when they start, it’ll be fine.”

The music school has 464 pupils The youngest is Max Sayer, from Papworth, a guitarist aged four and the oldest is Fred Cracknell from Upwood, a sax player aged 83. Fred is joined in the school by his son Vernon, 51, another saxophonist and two grandchildren Emillie, 12, on trumpet and Mariette, 11, on clarinet. He says: “I’ve been playing the saxophone since 1935. I played in all the local big bands including the Anglian Jazz Orchestra and the Priory Big Band in St Neots. I started playing at the music school when one of the teachers, who also played in the Priory Big Band brought me in because he needed a baritone sax. “I play in Hums to keep myself and my fingers going. I’ll play in any band that wants me. You need a mixture of experienced people, plus the younger people because they have the energy.”

The music school meets on Saturday mornings and weekday evenings at Huntingdonshire Regional College. Though director, Gary Seiling, an organist and harpsichord player, worries that “people don’t know we’re here” at the beginning of term last week, there were 78 messages on his voice mail, mostly from people wanting to become students.

Elvira, mum of Max, who will be five in November, said: “As a baby he enjoyed musical toys. His grandfather plays the accordian by ear and we had the impression that he had picked up that talent and we wanted to foster it. He chose the guitar because his dad is into that. It’s a good exercise for him to sit down and concentrate on the teacher and focus on one thing. He started in February when he was at pre-school and now he has started school it has all been helpful.” Max is one of 283 pupils under 16. There are 39 youngsters aged 16-18 and 142 over 19.

HUMS Junior Rock BandSays Sieling: “We are not short of students, Our fees are competitive, they include theory lessons in classes and there is plenty of scope for playing in ensembles and performance.” The ensembles include a swing band, two rock bands, three concert bands, an orchestra and junior string band. Sieling pledges that the school will teach any instrument. “If we don’t already have a teacher, we will find one.” Students are prepared for exams with over a 98 per cent pass rate of exams last year, with several distinctions and merits. Only one student failed an exam.

Despite it merits, the school was only just able to survive a recent funding crisis. In the midst of a national crisis in the funding of music education, Hums was obliged to increase its fees. To head off future financial trouble, Hums has formed Humsa, the Huntingdonshire Music School Association. The association is applying for charitable status so it can raise funds. Says Sieling: “We are now charging market rates and the music school is more secure than it was. If we get charitable status, it will attract extra funding to fight off further fee increases. Ideally we might even reduce them.

Humsa chairman is sax player, Derek Baughan, an engineering consultant from Brampton who says: “We want to form a pressure group and also raise awareness that we are here. It’s time we made a noise about our music.”


Article Copyright Hunts Post :  published by the Hunts Post on 22nd September 2004.See Hunts Post website .


See also

A School of FriendsHUMSA - The Association that Supports the Music School

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Owen Gunnell

O Duo - Owen is the one on the left




Owen went to school at St Ivo and, as he said in his speech to us on our prize-giving day on May 21st 2006, he started cornet at HuMS but was “rubbish” at it so switched to percussion. His older brother Tim is also a percussionist, and now a professional. Owen played in local bands and also in Cambs County Youth Orchestra but he soon won a place in the National Youth Orchestra. He won the Percussion final of BBC young musician of the year in 2000.


He went to the Royal School of Music and graduated with first class honours in summer 2004.


Whilst at the Royal School of Music, Owen formed a percussion duo with fellow student Oli Cox. They called it “O Duo!” They first performed as ‘O Duo’ at St Martin in the Fields, London, in 2000. Together they won The Philip & Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists 2004.  Oli Cox also graduated with first class honours in summer 2004. They have performed their arrangement of the Vivaldi Double Violin Concerto in A minor several times in Britain, with orchestras including the Locrian Symphony Orchestra.


As well as this, between them, Owen and Oliver have been broadcast on Radio 3, BBC Scotland and BBC2, the latter broadcast being in the winning performance of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Percussion final in 2000. They have also made concerto appearances with the BBC Philharmonic and the Philharmonia orchestra.


They have appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002 and 2003, being nominated ‘Pick of the Fringe’ both years and winning ‘Best Music Act of the Fringe, 2003’. The duo were also given a concert series by the Tunnell Trust in 2003.


The duo also holds several awards in music education and work regularly for London Musici and the Philharmonia.  They often combine their concerts with exciting and original workshops for people of all ages.




  • BBC Young Musician Percussion winner 2000
  • NYOS Staffa Award prize winner
  • Pick of the Fringe 2002, 2003 and 2004
  • Best Music Act of the Fringe 2003 and 2004
  • Winner of the KPMG Music in the Community award with Batterie
  • Winner of the Martin Musical Scholarship fund, in outreach and education
  • Allianz Cornhill Music Award at the RCM
  • Junior Fellow at the RCM 2004-




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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A School of Friends

Hunts Post Article

Clarinettist, CLAIRE JOYNER, a Hinchingbrooke sixthformer, says Huntingdonshire Music School is a great place to make friends.

AS I start my sixth year attending the Huntingdonshire Music School, I can see more clearly than ever what a fantastic place it is. Every Saturday morning during term time I go to the regional college to learn music. The music school is a very special place. It is the only institution in the area that offers everything necessary for a candidate to progress and achieve through the grades of musical ability in the space of just a few hours on a Saturday morning.

It also gives students the opportunity to play together in a variety of bands. There is something for everyone, whatever their musical interests.

I take clarinet and piano lessons, and attend aural classes every week. I’ve been tutored in theory and participated in some of the bands including the Senior Concert Band.

I’ve found not only that I’ve progressed immensely since I started coming to the music school, but also that it’s a great place to meet people. There’s always a very positive atmosphere all around the school. Colin Radford, a saxophone and (my) clarinet teacher, says: “It’s a place to meet and communicate with like minded people.”

HUMS Classical Guitar EnsembleThrough the music school, I’ve achieved many great things. In 2002, I won the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir/Marriott Hotel £500 bursary. With the money I bought a superb saxophone, which I’ve since played in a quartet at a wedding. Over the past year, I obtained grade eight on my clarinet and grade seven on the piano. This year, I am hoping to carry on to do a diploma with my clarinet. I believe that had I not been learning at the music school, I wouldn’t have progressed so quickly, to a standard this high, and achieved so much.

It’s also a place where whole families come to learn different instruments. I’ve many friends who go to the music school with their entire family and everyone learns to play.

The only problem, however - as is so often the case - is money. The Music School has stopped receiving funding from the Government. Since this happened, the school has no longer been able to afford to include all the activities in one fee, and the main fee for lessons has increased. The increased charge must be affecting families’ financial situation and may stop some from attending. If this is the case, the purpose of the music school being a place where everyone can come and play together will be defeated. We all hope that won’t happen.


Article Copyright Hunts Post : originally published by the Hunts Post on 22nd September 2004. See Hunts Post website .

See also

‘It’s Time We Made a Noise About Our Music’Play (Music ;-) )with Others

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