Busking mandolin band heads to deprived areas

A north Norfolk youth music group is to head off on a 16-concert, five-day tour of primary schools in some of Liverpool's most deprived areas, after raising more than �3,000 from busking.

Jefferson's Mandolins was set up nearly 20 years ago by Sheringham-based musician and tutor Tim Jefferson, who wanted to create a bridge between young amateur musicians and the professional world.

The group, which has toured Norway six times as well as giving concerts at primary schools in Glasgow and Belfast, is now headed by Sheringham Primary School Nursery head teacher Susan Brady, whose 13-year-old son Jack is band leader.

Musicians, whose ages range from 10-14, spend most Saturday mornings busking in Sheringham town centre, also giving concerts at local venues including St Peter's Church and the Constantia restaurant, West Runton, where they regularly perform at themed gala nights.

Cash raised from busking and performances and the sale of CDs pays for uniforms, instruments and equipment, as well covering the cost of an annual tour.

'We try to go to remote or deprived areas where children have little access to live music,' Mrs Brady said.

'We have been to schools with bars on the windows and razor wire across the playground walls and it is eye-opening for our musicians to see beyond their own experience, and, hopefully, they will inspire other young people.'

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The 10-strong group, which performs music ranging from classical numbers to chart hits, has recently expanded its repertoire to include songs penned by band leader and bass guitarist Jack and 14-year-old flautist Scarlett Askew, who joined the band after picking up a mandolin for the first time just a couple of months ago.

During the five-day tour, which kicks off on February 20, the group will be playing at an evening school for gifted and talented musicians.

To find out more about the band visit www.jeffersonsmandolins.co.uk.