Hello! Read below for updates on what we've been up to as well as what we have planned! If you have any stories of music making or events you want to share, please email We'd love to hear from you.

Oct 1, 2018

by Aisha Iqbal (NMS Staff Member)

Sky Full of Stars

“Can I take two yogurts?” the girl was eyeing the stack of yogurts, juices and butter sticks in front of us as we stood in line for breakfast at the YHA Ilam Hall cafeteria.

“I guess so,” I told her, “but just think, if a lot of children pick up two yogurts instead of one, would there be enough for everyone?”

The girl thought about it for a few minutes then slowly picked up two yogurts. “Yeah, I think so.”

From the excitement of picking out your own breakfast to sleeping in a bunk bed, to running down grassy slopes and figuring out new music notes – Music Camp 2018 was brilliant. We had over 200 children participate in the 2-day 1-night residential at Peak District in groups of three. Which meant that most of the Nottingham Music Service staff was out in the beautiful Ilam for an entire week – a very exciting but very tiring week!

I love Music Camp because it is a great opportunity to catch up on what is going in the world of 10-year olds and watch how just in the space of two days, they grow in confidence. There were two girls who were the only two pupils from their school, which can be daunting when other primaries bring an average of 5 children to camp, but they settled in slowly and by the second day, had made friends with pupils from the other schools, sharing jokes over scrambled eggs and sausages. The group activities, including an orienteering course that involves children working out musical clues and tasks that are set out across the lovely fields and grounds of Ilam, really encourage the children to work in groups and improve team work.

I always ask children their favourite part of camp and while many of them seem to love the hostel food, another favourite activity is the night walk. One of the most unique parts about the whole camp, the night walk is the last activity of Day 1. We set out in groups (making sure that the groups don’t go out at the time to avoid any noise or excess commotion!) and the entire landscape is different in the dark. Save for a few torches, there is no light and while the children are a little apprehensive at first, they are amazed by the sounds of nature around us. We walk along the river and then stop at a clearing where the walk leader asks everyone to close their eyes for 15 seconds – when we open our eyes again there is always a chorus of amazement at how much we can suddenly see. The silhouettes of trees, the river, and the best part – a sky full of stars! And then there are the beautifully lonely notes of a phantom trumpet … but that’s a story for another day!

Sep 26, 2018

by Chris Hull (Instrumental Teacher)

Never Too Late!

I’m a music teacher in Nottingham, and had been teaching the guitar for 10 years in schools across the city when four years ago, my supervisor at work requested that I learn to play and then teach the trumpet!

I was a little apprehensive but went in to it whole heartedly. This was actually the second time I was going to try and learn to play the trumpet! I had started learning the trumpet in secondary school, but only lasted about 6 months before I started missing band rehearsals and gave up.

Fortunately, this second attempt went much better. Already being a musician, I now had many of the required skills. I just needed to develop the technique and learn the finger movements. Now, four years later I have just received a distinction in my ABRSM Jazz grade 3! Playing the trumpet has definitely become a passion, so much so that I now play the trumpet when I perform with my band. I would like to thank my employer for encouraging me to learn to play. The moral of the story is: it's never too late to learn!

Sep 5, 2018

Join Now for a Brilliant New Year of Music School!

Budding young musicians from across the city are invited to enrol in Nottingham Music Service ensembles as the charity enters a new era at a new venue in the heart of the city.

Nottingham Music Service’s (NMS) popular Saturday Music School has relocated from Nottingham Academy (Greenwood site) to Nottingham College (Clarendon campus) as part of their mission to find a more centrally accessible venue for their pupils.

The Music School includes Robin Hood Youth Orchestra (RHYO), RHYO Intermediate, which is a stepping stone to the full Robin Hood Youth Orchestra, and Band Factory, which provides guidance and rehearsal space for young instrumentalists interested in rock, pop and more.

The charity is also celebrating 10 years of its hugely popular two-day residential Music Camp this year, with its latest groups set to take the total number of participants (to date) to the 2,500 mark.

During the camp, pupils have instrumental lessons, explore the countryside of the Peak District, take part in team challenges, learn to read music and perform as part of a ‘monster’ band. It is all part of the charity’s mission to ‘make music make a difference’ for every child in Nottingham.

NMS Business and Operations Manager Michael Aspinall commented:

‘NMS believes that all children and young people in Nottingham should have the inspiring and rewarding experience of making music with others. After five fantastic years at Nottingham Academy, we are moving to Nottingham College. While we continue to have a great relationship with Nottingham Academy and are indebted to them for their support during the last years, our new venue is more central and accessible for city pupils.

‘There’s also more suited rehearsal studios at the new site, especially for Band Factory, which requires separate rooms for its various solo artists and bands. We’re thrilled to start Music School at our new venue and all our ensembles are looking for new members: We look forward to welcoming pupils old and new to our Saturday Music School.’

Faculty Area Manager for Music and Performing Arts Michelle Lloyd and Music, Media and Performing Arts Coordinator Andy Oakley commented:

“We are excited to be in partnership with Nottingham Music Service and hope that we can enhance their Saturday provision with our excellent facilities at the Clarendon campus.As we strengthen our partnership we are looking forward to developing more opportunities within music and music education that are accessible for young people across Nottingham, and push Nottingham as a vibrant place for new music.’

NMS Business and Operations Manager Michael Aspinall added:

‘As a registered charity, we rely on the support of the public to continue providing life-enhancing programmes for young people in the city and as a recipient of Catalyst: Evolve, a grant from Arts Council England, any sum donated will automatically be doubled and have twice the impact. I’d urge anyone who is as passionate about music as we are to get involved in supporting us and in encouraging the next generation of untapped musical talent in the city.’

To get involved in supporting the Music Camp and NMS, visit

Enrolment for Saturday Music School starts on Sep 8, 2018. Young people can attend one of two sessions: the first session is from 10 am to 11 am, and the second from 11 am to 12 pm.Online enrolment forms will also be available on the charity website along with onsite enrolment at Nottingham College on the day.

Jul 26, 2018 

Nottingham city saves the day for the Robin Hood Youth Orchestra

Three days before our Robin Hood Youth Orchestra’s residential to Liverpool, the coach company called to tell us the coach they had booked had broken down and they were unable to get a replacement – not really the best news just before a trip that your entire staff has been planning for six months!

As a charity devoted to changing young people’s lives through music, Nottingham Music Service is committed to its work and our participants’ happiness is paramount.

Despite all hands on deck and ears on phones, we couldn’t arrange alternative transport for our 63-strong Robin Hood Youth Orchestra (RHYO) and so the much awaited and meticulously planned three-day tour to Liverpool and Manchester had to be canceled last minute.

We didn’t have much time for tears though since now the task was to make sure our young people had something to do over the Friday and Saturday, July 13 & 14. As we Googled things to do in Nottinghamshire, rung up contacts and friends’ contacts, we managed to piece together a whirlwind itinerary for the weekend.

The best part about our two days of making music in and around Nottingham was how people and organisations across the city and region came together to help make things work. It was a heartwarming display of support and love for young people and music!

Rebecca Langton, from Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collin’s office, called to see how they could help and subsequently arranged a Nottingham City Transport bus exclusively for our use so that we wouldn’t have to rush in a panic to find seats on public transport for all 60+ members of the orchestra and staff! The bus took our wonderfully high-spirited RHYO to Southwell on the Friday where, after a rigorous walk in the fields, the orchestra performed in the beautiful Education Garden of the Southwell Minster.

We would also like to thank the Nottingham City Council (NCC) events team for letting us play at Trinity Square, the Nottingham Community Transport (CT4N) for arranging the electric buses for us on Saturday and wheeling us all the way to Newstead Abbey and back, Linda Abbott for inviting RHYO to play at the fantastic Bulwell Arts’ Festival at the Bulwell Academy (on such short notice too!), the NCC Museums and Galleries team for arranging a lovely performance in the gardens of Newstead Abbey, Shona Powell and Catherine Hocking from University of Nottingham for facilitating our wonderful performance and flash mob at the Lakeside park and Ben from Lakeside for the delicious packed lunches!

We would also like to thank RHYO and their family and friends who were very understanding about the cancelled trip and who overcame their disappointment to have a great time over the weekend! All the people we met over our different performances across the region were absolutely delightful and very supportive.

We didn’t make it to Liverpool, but Nottingham city and its people definitely lived up to their community spirit and made it a weekend we’re not going to forget!

Nottingham Music Hub