Alfie is in year 11 of Excelsior Academy. He started learning to play cello through the In Harmony programme at Hawthorn Primary School and has not stopped playing music since.
“In Harmony was something different. It was fun because it wasn’t a standard lesson,” says Alfie. “I could pick up my instrument and feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.”
Alfie’s mum, Diane, agrees.
“I think In Harmony is a great experience for all the kids and their futures. It gives them confidence and lets them interact with other people,” she says. “It’s absolutely fabulous.”
Mixing with other musicians helps Alfie make friends.
“He’s always been quiet since being very little, but when he comes home, he tells me what he’s been doing and how he’s enjoyed it,” says Diane. “He’s always listening to music.”
“It helped my confidence because I’m usually shy,” says Alfie.
“Through In Harmony, I’ve been able to perform at multiple shows. It’s making me put myself forward. Even if it’s not in a social setting, it’s getting me started.”
There have been many special occasions over the years.
“It’s hard to pick just one. I’m always terrified before I play a concert, but when I get up, it all melts away and everything’s great,” says Alfie.
“In the build-up, everyone’s excited and nervous, it’s a combined feeling,” he says. “It always ends up being fun.”
He has worked hard to learn the skills that develop his cello playing.
“It was difficult to use sheet music when I was younger because I needed to sight-read, and I was not sure what the music sounded like.”
When Alfie left Hawthorn Primary School, he became a member of the West Newcastle Symphony Orchestra so he could keep on playing.
“It was a natural progression going from one programme to the next,” says Alfie. “I like WNSO because it makes me feel a part of a bigger group and it’s enjoyable.”
“He used to stay behind in primary school for music sessions, and once he went to high school, he kept on coming back.”
Alfie now studies GCSE music and puts his orchestral knowledge into practice.
“I feel like it gives me an advantage. I notice things, especially with reading music,” he says. “It’s made me more comfortable in that area. I can answer questions because I’ve had prior experiences.”
“Sometimes it is a bit much having my lessons at school and then going to WNSO, but it’s always worth it.” he says. “I definitely want to continue on cello.
“I’m not sure where I want to go with music. I might try to do it professionally, but I’ll always keep it as a hobby.”