Student Success Stories

Christopher’s story

Christopher was at NMPAT from 1994 to 1999. He had instrumental lessons at school and was part of the County Brass ensembles. NMPAT helped Christopher to find his voice, both musically and socially.

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“I was a reasonably shy young man at the start of my teens. I suffered from a mild speech impediment that led to a loss of confidence at this critical stage of my adolescence. I was immensely fortunate to have been brought up in a supportive family where my joint interests in music and sport were nurtured. However, I was at times very unsure of my own abilities and feared I was being judged by others because of my lack of fluency in speech.”

“My experiences at NMPAT were amongst the most influential of my childhood. I was fortunate to have John Berryman as a teacher; one of the most respected brass players and conductors of his generation. It was John who encouraged me to audition for the county groups. From the moment I joined the Training Brass Band on second baritone as a shy and unassuming 13 year old, to my final concert with the County Youth Brass Band (having held the principal Euphonium seat for 3 years), I felt supported, challenged, valued and respected. The staff saw me as the young man I was, and allowed me to become the musician I dreamt of being. The Brass team of John, Rachel and Peter, are in my eyes amongst the finest music educators in the country. They empowered and equipped, whilst always maintaining their excellent pastoral care.”

“Through my musical experiences I developed so many core values that have served me in my future work. Dedication, resilience, the pursuit of excellence, care for others, leadership, and of course advanced level musical skills. My experiences at NMPAT helped me to find my voice, both musically and socially. I have since forged a career as a choral conductor, working as a head of department at one the DfE Specialist Music Schools. My work has led to much competitive success, high profile performances broadcast on radio globally, critically acclaimed recordings and guest conducting professional choral and instrumental groups throughout this country and overseas. I am only too aware that my success is forged on the opportunities and instruction afforded to me as a child. As a result I have continued to dedicate myself to the education of young people alongside my own performing career.”

Emily’s story

Emily was at NMPAT from 2003 to 2010. She had instrumental lessons at school and NMPAT, and was a member of many county groups and ensembles and also attended Kettering Music Centre. NMPAT helped her to develop more than just music skills.

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“Before I started NMPAT activities, I was a shy child who found it difficult to make friends as I felt I didn’t have anything in common with those I was at school with. I didn’t like socialising outside of school, and the thought of it generally made me feel anxious and nervous, and I would lie to get out of social situations. I was bullied at secondary school and felt like I didn’t fit in, I loved learning, but I hated school. I didn’t feel safe there.”


“My sister joined NMPAT – Kettering Music Centre in 2003 and seemed to enjoy it, and so I wouldn’t feel left out, my mum tried to encourage me to go as I was working towards my grade 4 cornet, but lacking enthusiasm. I think she knew it would help with a lot of things. The first few weeks, I was so anxious, I remember feeling quite unwell, but with my sister to protect me, I felt safe and I began to make friends. After a term or so, I finally felt like I fitted in somewhere and started to gain confidence, in my playing and in myself. I got help with the bullying at school and poured all my energy into music.


“Long story short, I have left (most of) my anxiety behind, and feel confident in social situations, even those where you don’t know the person you are talking to! I am now a peripatetic music teacher myself, and it brings me great joy to see children growing in self esteem and so many other ways, just through music.


“I never would have been able to develop the social skills I have now without NMPAT. It established me as a person, and I would never have been able to achieve anything I have in life without these essential skills. Oh, and they taught me how to play the trumpet quite well too, I suppose!”

Fiona’s story

Fiona was at NMPAT between the late 80s and early 90s. She had instrumental lessons at school, and was a member of many county groups. This enabled her to take advantage of some of the wonderful opportunities NMPAT has to offer e.g. touring and high profile performances, which led her to a career in music.

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“I was already interested in music, having learnt recorder and singing at primary school, and had started violin lessons aged 7, taught by Mr Leech (peripatetic). I was very keen to learn more and was already writing musical ideas down. No one in my family was musical, so there wasn’t anyone to help me develop skills or to educate me in classical music, until I started going to the music school.”

“I thrived on music and the social environment created for the students at the music school. I loved residential courses at Grendon Hall. I made great friends within the County Junior & Youth Orchestras and David Leech’s chamber orchestra. I experienced performing at the Royal Albert Hall at the age of 13 and touring abroad with the orchestra (Italy in 1988, Czech Republic in 1989, the Canadian exchange in 1990). I was nurtured and challenged and encouraged in a way that was not possible at my comprehensive school , although I took part in a lot of music and drama there too.

“I went on to study music and German at Kings College & the Royal Academy. I now have a very successful international career as a composer and performer, in both the classical and commercial music industry. I tour worldwide as a violinist and have written for several major orchestras (BBC Phil, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, RTE Orchestra, Metropol Orchestra, Babelsberg Film Orchestra, Zurich Chamber Orchestra). NONE of this would have been possible without the tuition and encouragement I received at the Music School. Furthermore, I am friends for life with several people I met in County Youth Orchestra. It was such a special bonding experience, I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without it. I found my vocation, I found my people!”

Kerry’s story

Kerry was at NMPAT from 2004 to 2011. She had instrumental lessons at school, was a member of the training Wind Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble and attended Corby Music Centre. Her time at NMPAT helped her to deal with some personal issues.

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“I had no confidence and was often in trouble at school for anger management problems. I always thought I was stupid and would never get anywhere in life because I was never good at anything. I was diagnosed with depression at a young age and I am also severely light sensitive as well as having dyslexia.”


“Being able to turn up to my trombone and Clarinet lessons allowed me to get my anger out in a constructive way. I grew in confidence with music and saw that I could maybe be good at something. I ended up getting my grade 8 trombone, grade 6 Clarinet and a music degree (2:1). It gave me the confidence to teach for a few years and to try and get somewhere in life.


“The confidence you get from playing an instrument is amazing. Having the support of a great teacher and a range of ensembles to join is a great way to grow in confidence and enjoy yourself.”

Megan’s story

Megan was at NMPAT from 2008 to 2014. She attended the Youth Theatre. The skills and talents she developed whilst at NMPAT helped her to follow her dream.

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“When I started youth theatre I was just a normal person. I didn’t have many friends as I had just moved to the area. I didn’t think I was that talented in music or drama.”


“Well first off I met loads of wonderful people. Then there’s the music side – I can now play piano and sing well! But county youth theatre also gave me a lot of confidence in my ability and when I was 15 years old I made my mum drive me to audition for an agent (Daisy and Dukes ltd). Not only did I get the agent but I have had professional jobs acting!


“Without the Youth Theatre I wouldn’t ever had considered auditioning for an agent!”

Sarah’s story

Sarah was at NMPAT from 1989 to 1995. She had instrumental lessons at school, and was a member of the Youth Orchestra and Chamber Strings ensemble. Her time at NMPAT and the opportunities it gave, is still helping her today.

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“I was very shy, but desperate to play violin and later viola. Mum and Dad didn’t have much money, but the free lessons and the borrowed instruments allowed me to have a go regardless of our ability to pay.”


“Some of my fondest memories are of my time in Youth Orchestra and Chamber Strings. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to play, because it has affected my life so positively ever since. I still look back at our performances in London venues and on TV with an enormous sense of pride. Whenever I have applied for university places or jobs, the music part of my C.V. has always been a talking point. It shows a level of commitment to hard work that universities and employers find hard to ignore.


“When I was diagnosed with post-natal depression in 2011, getting out and playing in the local orchestra got me on the road to recovery and allowed me to make some new friends. We have moved around a lot over the years and joining the local orchestra has always been a way to get to know the local community.


“I am so grateful for the opportunities I was given and the amazing tuition and friendship I received.”

Will’s story

Will was at NMPAT from 2001 to 2014. He had instrumental lessons at school, and was a member of many county groups, as well as attending Early Years music. Will’s time at NMPAT helped to secure his place within higher education.

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“My first contact with NMPAT was through Early Years music at Towcester centre in around 2001, but the trust’s biggest impact on me was during my time in the county brass groups at Kettering Road, starting in 2009. At this stage I was very academic at school, but didn’t have many friends and was always very shy. I would certainly never have considered myself a musician, although I enjoyed playing.


“Five years in county groups gave me a huge confidence boost, and has allowed me to make some of the best friends anyone could wish for. Socially I could never thank NMPAT enough. Perhaps more importantly though, NMPAT completely changed the course of my life. As a big part of my university applications, it definitely helped me get into a better university than I otherwise would have, and a year later I actually changed my degree and am now studying for a career as a musician, and already have some work as a professional conductor. Without the inspiration of NMPAT I guarantee none of this could have happened”

"All children should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument"

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