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Empowering Youth Through Music: Holly’s Journey

21st March 2024

Holly is wearing all black and is sat next to another player from Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Chairs and some instruments can be seen around them. They are both smiling at the camera.

Holly Musgreave is a 17-year-old Tuba student with Barnsley Music Service. She has been learning brass instruments since the age of 9, and now plays as principal tuba in multiple Brass Bands and Eb Bass Dep for Grimethorpe Colliery Brand. In this blog, Holly shares her musical journey with us and shows how Music Services can make a profound difference to the lives of young people.


Where did you learn to start playing a brass instrument? 

I started to learn how to play a brass instrument when I was in year 4 at Birkwood Primary School in whole class brass lessons taught by music service brass tutor Michael Dodd. I first started playing the cornet and fell in love with brass instantly. We used to visit occasional music festivals and play with a number of different primary schools where the same opportunities were offered. We frequently visited Elsecar Heritage Centre to perform.

After about half a year on the cornet, I had the opportunity to switch and play the baritone. After playing the baritone for a while I realised that I enjoyed playing the lower instruments. In year 6, I was given the chance to play an Eb Bass. After playing it, I fell in love with it and realised that this was the instrument that I wanted to play for the rest of my life.  


What opportunities have there been to support you and help you progress? 

Barnsley Music Service, who lead our local music hub, offers many opportunities for young players like myself. There is a variety of bands that you can play in and there is a band for all standards. People working towards their Grade 1 and 2 would find it helpful to join the Barnsley Junior Band. Those working towards Grade 3 and 4 would most likely want to join the Barnsley Intermediate Band and those aiming for Grade 5 and above can take part in the Barnsley Town Concert Band.

Holly as a child playing the tuba, sat down.

Holly playing the tuba when she was younger.

I myself started out in the Barnsley Intermediate Band when I had been playing the tuba for a year or so. I completed my Grade 3 tuba and achieved a Merit in February of 2018 at the age of 11. This was a large boost in my confidence and I knew that I wanted to branch out and achieve my grade 4. I then achieved a Distinction in my Grade 4 tuba in February of 2019 and soon sent in my submission for my Grade 5. Unfortunately, two days before my exam, the Covid lockdown began and I couldn’t complete it until we went back into schools. I finally did it and achieved a Distinction in March of 2021. 

I feel like Barnsley is a great area for working together to try and inspire the next generation of brass players. Bands such as Grimethorpe Colliery also offer termly youth band days where anyone from Grade 1 upwards can play with some of the best musicians on the planet. Playing in this band led me to be able to play with the Grimethorpe North of England Youth Band and playing with the main band themselves.  


Where are you now? 

At the moment, I play in a variety of bands. These include being the principal tuba of Barnsley Metropolitan Band (Recent Yorkshire Champions as of March 2024!), the principal tuba of Grimethorpe North Of England Youth Band, the principal tuba of Yorkshire Youth Brass Band (Run By Black Dyke) and the National Youth Brass Band Of Great Britain. As of this year, I am in the running to hopefully be the principal and show everyone that you can do anything if you put in the hours and commit yourself to do your very best.

I am currently studying music in college where I recently did my solo performance. During this I played one of my Grade 8 pieces (Nightlights by Lucy Pankhurst), my Barnsley Met Band solo (Bass In The Ballroom by Roy Newsome) and one of my own piano compositions. Weekly, I now have two individual lessons. One with the principal Cornet player of Brighouse & Rastrick band and Music Service brass tutor (Thomas Smith) and one with the principal Tuba player of Grimethorpe Colliery Band who I have met via the youth band days. Having these teachers is a great credit and they have taught me so much over the course of my learning.

Having connections with such amazing players has opened up amazing opportunities such as being the official Eb Bass dep for Grimethorpe and playing in concert with them numerous times. I recently helped them out while doing a project with the Grimethorpe Education Hub. Three different schools joined together to play through The Grimethorpe Adventure, a story that followed the story of Kim the Canary. I played the tuba with the other Grimethorpe player and mentored the children.


Possibilities for the future

In the future, I would love to eventually be able to play for a pro band such as Grimethorpe and show everyone what a music hub can help you achieve. I would like to go to University at a conservatoire and learn to play the tuba professionally. As a musical opportunity, I would really like to be able to play in an orchestra as I love the sounds of all the different instruments coming together and creating one marvellous sound.

In my free time, I compose music and would love to one day have my pieces be played by a professional band or orchestra. Finally, as a dream job, I would like to join an Armed Forces band and play all around the world in ceremonial events.