Music school in Sheffield showing ‘how important music is’ during lockdown
A music school that has ‘something for everyone’ has released a song online after lockdown meant they were unable to put on their usual concerts to show ‘how important music is’ right now.
AS Music School, based in Woodseats, has now been running for 30 years and offers vocal tuition, as well as instrument training in piano, violin, guitar, ukelele and drums.
The school was originally set up by musician Anne Sheehan in her living room 30 years ago, and was even named after her, but now has 11 music tutors and has over 350 members of all ages – from toddlers, to older adults.
After lockdown meant the school was forced to close its doors, members have been taking part in sessions online – and they have now even released a song online.
Anne, director of AS Music School, said : “It’s for everyone. We run classes for toddlers, we run one-to-one lessons for all ages and abilities, and we run adults groups, so there really is something for everyone.
"Since lockdown three, we have been doing the lessons online and it has gone better than I thought it might.
"We had a number of people who it hasn’t suited but everybody, tutors and students, just can’t wait to get back to doing face-to-face lessons.
"You don’t realise just how important the personal touch is until it is taken away from you.”
The school, which is based on Cobnar Road when it is allowed to open, has lessons from early afternoon to late evening on weekdays, and all day Saturday.
It will be allowed to finally reopen for face-to-face teaching from April 12, but due to Easter holidays it plans to open its doors “unless anything goes horribly wrong” on April 16.
And, because of the size of the building they teach in, it will be extremely conducive for social distancing and people management – as seen when they reopened in summer between the first and second lockdowns.
Anne said: “One of the things that is really lucky for us, because we were open in between the first and second lockdowns, was the social distancing, and the bonus is the rooms are big and airy and spacious, so doing two metres has not been a problem at all.
"We have a ‘big room’, which means wee could have the bands and toddler groups in there and all still be socially distant. The building is and absolute Godsend.”
The group have now also released a song after their regular live concerts were ‘taken away’ by the pandemic.
The new song, a version of Bob Marley’s well-known hit ‘Three Little Birds’ features lots of the school’s members, from the very youngest, to the very oldest, singing and playing instruments, and it is available to watch online on YouTube.
"Normally the music school would do lots of gigs and concerts – we regularly put on events at Yellow Arch, and Greystones and places like that and then that was all taken away from us,” said Anne.
"It is really important to us that people feel part of something, so it was a case of get your thinking hats on, ‘how can we still get everyone to feel part of the music school? How can we do something that’s inclusive that isn’t a gig?’ – and so that’s what we came up with.
"And everybody is loving it – it really does cheer you up.”
People come from as far as Dronfield, Rotherham and the Peak District to attend the classes, but it is predominantly Sheffield residents that make up the hundreds, with its “localness” making it what it is, says Anne.
She set up the school 30 years ago in her dining room because she ‘believed passionately in the power of music’ – and music is something that has helped many during the past year of lockdowns, with online choirs, singing groups and musical theatre troupes using online rehearsals and lessons as an positive outlet.
Anne said: "I just really have always believed passionately in the power of music, and what a great thing it is to learn and share with other people.
"Seeing things like this video just bears it, doesn’t it?
“Although like any small business we have had out ups and downs, the big plus-point of lockdown is that it has shown how important things like music are when times are tough.
"A lot of people have turned to music in this last year and I think more people than just us have realised how important music has been, so you always look for a silver lining and that has certainly been one. It is just a lovely thing to be involved in, really positive.”
The AS music school rendition of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds is available to watch online here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JPHgb7HvsY.