Too cool for school! What it’s like to follow in Ed Sheeran’s footsteps at Access to Music Norwich

Courtney Pochin, front centre, joins the students at a music class at the Access to Music College, w

Courtney Pochin, front centre, joins the students at a music class at the Access to Music College, with tutor Jasper Milton, right. From left, Elly Bishop, Finn Doherty, Billy Fulcher, Kate Maguire Buck, Zacharie Lambert, Aphra McSherry, and Lucy Grubb. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Over 300 students attend Access to Music College in Norwich, but what exactly do they get up to? Courtney Pochin heads back to school to find out..

Access to Music was formed in 1992 and while its focus was once solely on musicians, the college now aims to be the leading centre for the creative industries, expanding to embrace digital media, game design, performing arts and technical theatre.

Being a student for the day was a great experience, not only was it fun to try something new, it was great to have the opportunity to meet some incredibly talented youngsters.

The music college, which also has centres in Great Yarmouth, Bristol and Manchester, has helped nurture several of the region's most notable success stories, including Suffolk singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, who studied on the Artist Development course in London, as well as Norwich duo Let's Eat Grandma.

As part of the Level 3 Music Performance course at Access to Music, the morning was spent attempting to write a song.

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The workshop began with a stream of consciousness exercise, where course tutor, Jasper Milton, played a track to the class and asked them to note down any thoughts and feelings it evoked.

Mr Milton has been teaching at the college for the last two years and has an extensive background in music, as part of the band White Rose Movement, he has toured with big name acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, The Strokes and Bloc Party, performing all around the world, even headlining a festival in the Ukraine.

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For the song writing exercise, the class was sent off in groups to develop their lyrics. They had 20 minutes.

Finn Doherty, 17, was my partner for the challenge. The teen has a natural talent and it became clear this was not his first rodeo - his stream of consciousness lyrics sounded incredibly poetic without much effort.

The Lyric writing class with tutor Jasper Milton, left, at the Access to Music College. Picture: DEN

The Lyric writing class with tutor Jasper Milton, left, at the Access to Music College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

'When writing a song, I usually just jot down the first thing that comes into my head, then go back and edit it all once I've got a rough draft,' says Finn, as he successfully turns rambles into rhymes.

'I chose to come to Access to Music as an alternative to studying A Levels. I've always wanted to do music and my goal is to be able to do it full-time, making money from what I love and eventually release an album and be able to tour it.

'When I was younger I was inspired by bands like Green Day, but I guess it's acts like Ed Sheeran, Jack Garratt and KT Tunstall who have shown me that I don't need to be in a band, I can make noise on my own.'

As well as completing the Level 3 course, Finn is hard at work attempting to kickstart his career.

The Lyric writing class at the Access to Music College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Lyric writing class at the Access to Music College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

'Most people are working on their own music projects outside of college - I've just released my own EP on iTunes and performed a launch show at the Waterfront,' he said.

Also taking part in the workshop were Kate Maguire Buck and Elly Bishop, who paired off to write their song, 'Dead Shot'.

In the short period of time given, the duo managed to write a full set of lyrics. They gave a quick performance and not only were the lyrics great, but it sounded radio-ready and was incredibly catchy (the song is still stuck in my head days later).

Zach Lambert and Billy Fulcher took a very different approach with their song, preferring to use the exact words from their stream of consciousness and just cut and paste sections together. The overall effect was a bit of a comical jumble, but somehow it worked.

Each member of the course brings something different and has their own individual style - Aphra takes traditional folk and gives it a modern, political twist; Billy is quirky and comical while Elly is soulful.

After watching them perform, it's easy to see that all of the students have what it takes to become established artists.

Access To Music is going to help them do just this and it'll be exciting to see where they are headed.

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