About Us

The National Children’s Concert Band held its first course during Summer 2021 at the Old Swinford Hospital School, Stourbridge. Directed by the experienced and inspirational Sarah Hind , the young players learnt challenging repertoire and developed their instrumental and ensemble skills.

The annual residential course is open to musicians aged 10-14 with a minimum of Grade 4 standard and all orchestral wind, brass and percussion instrumentalists can apply.

This band has been specially created for younger musicians to stretch them beyond their usual one-to-one music lessons and introduce them to the huge range of opportunities that ensemble playing can offer.

Running at the same time as the NYCB course, participants will experience the same level of tuition, share the stage during our solo and chamber event and have the opportunity to attend workshops given by some of the most respected names in the music world.

Our dedicated team of qualified pastoral staff are also on-site 24/7 to make sure everyone is happy and healthy, putting on entertainment in the evenings and providing any support that’s needed.

The week ahead

The National Children’s Concert Band rehearsals will make up the bulk of the week, working towards the final concert which is open to family, friends and the general public. When players arrive on the first day, they are registered and then shown to their rooms before the first full rehearsal. We always accommodate our young musicians with others of a similar age, and it doesn’t take long for new friendships to blossom!

Specialist sectional tutors will take intensive rehearsals during the first two or three days and we have lead wind, brass and percussion tutors on hand throughout the course. Many of our pastoral staff are also highly qualified musicians and they love to get involved too!

A variety of creative workshops are also included in the week, such as jazz and composition, as well as masterclasses and other performance opportunities. Players can work individually with our accompanist in residence, Hannah Mitchell, and perform to their peers in a solos concert held in the stunning Great Hall. 

Members have the option to join a chamber ensemble, such as a saxophone quartet or wind or brass quintet, which many of them may not have featured in before. Later in the week, we take these groups off site to perform at a local care home and share our music-making with the community. Older students can use this time for extra study or revision if they wish, as we’re aware it can be a stressful time with GCSE and A Level exams just around the corner!

Between rehearsals, there’s something for everyone – we have a movie night, games night with karaoke and sports events throughout the week, ensuring players can relax and get to know their band-mates socially as well as musically. At NYCB, our young musicians develop skills and friendships that will last a lifetime. 

The tutors

The Musical Director of the National Children’s Concert Band is Sarah Hind. Sarah studied music at the University of Huddersfield and graduated with a first class honours degree in 2013. During her time at Huddersfield, Sarah studied classical saxophone with Sarah Markham.

Sarah is the baritone player in Quirk Saxophone Quartet. Quirk is an exciting and innovative group – commissioning new works and playing a wide range of repertoire. They have enjoyed performing both nationally and internationally, including the World Saxophone Congress (Zagreb). Sarah also performs regularly with the Regent Big Band and various singing projects.

Sarah is passionate about music education, enjoying a wide variety of teaching as Lead Woodwind Tutor at Tameside Music Service. Sarah conducts the TMS Wind Band and the Dark Peak Music Foundation Intermediate Wind Band.

The lead woodwind tutor of  the NCCB is Sarah James. Hailed by The Times as ‘a player of real charisma’, Sarah maintains a diverse career as acclaimed soloist, accomplished chamber musician, and versatile multi-instrumentalist.

Sarah graduated First Class from the Royal Academy of Music in 2000, and achieved the DipRAM – The Academy’s highest performance award - for her joint final recital on both saxophone and clarinet in 2001. Following her debut at London’s South Bank Centre, she has given recitals throughout the UK, live on Radio 3 and Classic FM, and for the BBC Proms. She was awarded the 2000 RAM Meaker Fellowship. 

As the first ever female solo saxophonist with worldwide Irish phenomenon Riverdance, Sarah has performed in venues including the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the Kremlin, and – as the first company from the West – at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. 

Closer to home, Sarah’s orchestral experience includes the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, RTE Orchestra, Aurora, and the Heritage Orchestra - plus over 30 West End productions.

Education projects include masterclasses at the University of Massachusetts, University of Johannesburg, Trinity Laban, RWCMD, Manchester Single Reed Summer School, Berkshire Maestros, with members of the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, and for both the National Youth Saxophone Ensemble and National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain. 

In 2013 Sarah was appointed Saxophone tutor at the Junior Department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 

‍ Lead brass tutor is our very own Jonny Watkins. Jonny has been playing the trombone since the age of 7. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Eric Crees and Simon Wills and with Don Lucas at Boston University during which time he toured extensively with the European Union Youth Orchestra and won the International Trombone Association Quartet Competition with the Spitfire Trombone Quartet. From 2011-13 Jonny was the Principal Trombone in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and, in the 2017 season, was Associate Principal Trombone in the National Centre for Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing, China. He has trialled for positions in many of the UK’s leading orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philhamonic Orchestra and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

Jonny was the trombone section tutor for both the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain and the Hampshire County Youth Wind Ensemble and has led masterclasses at the Hong Kong Baptist University and twice at the Conservatorio Profesional de Musica Xoan Montes in Lugo, Spain.

In his spare time, Jonny can be found enjoying a good pub quiz or screaming at the TV in frustration when his beloved Arsenal are playing...

Lead percussion tutor is Richard Charles. Richard has taught percussion for over 20 years, he has developed a successful approach to teaching beginner percussionists that resulted in an invitation to present at the Royal Northern Day of Percussion in 2011 to discuss his approach (and promote a book of his own compositions!)

Richard was a member of the BackBeat Percussion Quartet for 10 years touring Internationally and making several recordings.

Richard was the conductor of the Rochdale Concert Band when they were invited to perform at the Schools' Prom in the Royal Albert Hall. In 2019 he was invited to conduct the North Wales Youth Wind Band on their inaugural course.

National Youth Concert Band CIC | Registered in England number 11665172

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