Sally Sanderson jokes that she probably wouldn’t be happy until she couldn’t physically squeeze another youngster in there.
But there’s a serious point: Sally believes there is space for at least another hundred young people to use the huge and wide-ranging services at Worthing Music Centre.
That’s a hundred on top of the 150 who have already woken up to all the delights it offers every Saturday.
To that end, Sally has put together an open day on Saturday, March 24 – a great chance for young people and their parents to discover music’s transformative power.
“Worthing Music Centre provides ensemble opportunities for young musicians singing and learning instruments in local schools to come together weekly in term time at Bohunt School to enjoy music making.
“We offer a wide range of activities led by West Sussex Music specialist teachers, for all ages and abilities from pre-school children to young adults.
“There are opportunities for string, brass, woodwind and percussion players as well as singers. These musical experiences are in addition to small group lessons or individual tuition where students learn technique and other musical skills. Playing with larger groups such as orchestras can be the source of a lifetime of musical fulfilment as well as providing lots of social activity.”
Quite apart from the musical benefits, the advantages of learning an instrument can seep into all sorts of other areas of life, as Sally says.
“You might see children with a problem with confidence or all sorts of barriers or maybe they are not doing so well at school, but the moment they pick up the violin they are really flourishing. It is really such a positive thing in every way.”
There is inevitably a degree of dedication and commitment required in learning to play an instrument, but the efforts are returned as fun for all concerned: “They have a great time, and I have got a group of fantastic specialist teachers who are passionate about what they do.”
Alongside Chichester, Horsham, Haywards Heath and Crawley, the Worthing centre is one of five run across West Sussex by the West Sussex Music Trust.
“And the centres are about creating opportunities for children all instrumentalists and singers who are at school during the week to come together to form different types of ensembles or orchestras or bands or whatever. It’s about the team thing. You don’t get good at netball by standing practising at the ring. You get better by all working together.
“When you are playing an instrument at home and you make a mistake, you might stop, but if you are playing with a group of musicians, you learn to keep going and you get so much more out of it.
“I am a string teacher and I start with the little ones and then once they have outgrown me, they move on up and then go right the way up to the top of the centre and perhaps join the county ensembles.”
At the summer concert, Sally loves to pass on news of all those who are going on perhaps to study music at university; but equally everyone will have gained whatever they go on to do. They will have learnt discipline and teamwork and they will have developed concentration and commitment, but just as importantly they will have had great fun doing so.
And this is where the open day comes in, on Saturday, March 24.
“The music centre is opening its doors to the public and inviting new families in to see what we offer. In addition to all the usual groups performing informally, we have two free special events happening for new children and their parents for which booking in advance via the West Sussex Music website is required.”
There will be a Double Reed taster, a fun session led by two specialist teachers on either the bassoon or oboe which both come in junior size. There will also be a gospel workshop when a visiting soul and gospel singer will lead the session for children aged ten and up and their parents. Both events are free and will finish with an informal presentation in the tuckshop, but book for both events in advance. Also, if there is something specific you want to see, Sally also suggests you get in touch before the day.
Otherwise just turn up from 9-9.15 onwards. If you require more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org; www.westsussexmusic.co.uk; 08452 082182; 07469 351445.