Being an Aldeburgh Young Musician

Series: Aldeburgh Young Musicians

Ideas explored: professional development for musicians

Discovering how being part of AYM has influenced Lauren's musical journey

Lauren, a young saxophonist from Cambridgeshire, joined Aldeburgh Young Musicians in August 2018 when she was 13. Since then, she has been involved in a diverse range of opportunities and activities, allowing her to experience different styles, genres and approaches. With the AYM team’s support, she has since found a new teacher, and has worked with some of the most inspiring and experienced saxophonists in the UK.

As an AYM, Lauren has had the opportunity to explore:

  • Music from South Africa, with workshop leader Eugene Skeef, pianist Adam Glasser, and saxophonists Josephine Davies and Harry Greene. At the end of the course, Lauren and other AYMs had the opportunity to meet and perform to Abdullah Ibrahim, one of South Africa’s finest musicians.
  • Folk music, exploring and reimagining Peter Bellamy’s Maritime Folk Song Suite alongside folk musicians Greg Russell, Laura-Beth Salter and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilkoyne, perfoming the finished work at FolkEast festival 2019.
  • Debussy, working with members of the Debussy Mirrored ensemble to explore and develop new music, inspired by Debussy.
  • Afrobeat music alongside members of Afla Sackey’s Afrik Bawantu ensemble.
  • Technology and Leadership  with Gawain Hewitt, Sarah Freestone and James Rose, exploring leadership and conducting techniques, and ways of engaging with technology and electronics as a musician.
  • Chamber music, with Jack McNeill, Kay Stephen and other professional chamber musicians.
  • Saxophone technique working with professional saxophonist Naomi Sullivan.
  • Creating a theatrical performance alongside members of Perhaps Contraption.
  • Creatively using her voice in AYM VocalLab, with professional musicians such as Dominic Ellis Peckham, Rob Gildon, Clare Wheeler, Sarah Latto, Lucy Drever.

As part of AYM’s Elements day series, Lauren has engaged in An exploration of Harmony with James Olsen, Functions of Rhythm with Beth Higham Edwards, Creative Electronics in Music with Duncan Chapman, Creative Interpretation of Manuscript with Alexander Campkin, Jazz Improvisation with Trish Clowes, Liran Donin and Chris Williams, Healthy Musicianship with Matthew Jones, Folk Songwriting with Greg Russell and Jacqueline Oates, and exploring Music and Geometry with Lee Westwood and Sama Mara.

"The combination of AYM and Christian have made such a difference to Lauren's general musicianship and playing, and also her self belief and confidence.  She always has a great time at AYM!" Christine, Parent

We caught up with Lauren to discuss some of her experiences as part of AYM

How did you find out about AYM?

My teacher recommended it to me as he thought it would be a good thing to do. We then looked into it and I also participated in an Aldeburgh Young Musicians workshop at my school, so found out a bit more about it that way. 

What made you choose AYM?

I chose AYM because it looked fun and enjoyable, I really enjoyed the workshop day at my school and I thought it would be a great way to meet new musical people and interact with them! 

What top three AYM experiences have enriched your musical life? 

Through AYM, I’ve taken part in lots of different activities, including Elements days, VocalLab sessions, mentoring opportunities, Full Courses and bespoke opportunities. My top three experiences are the FolkEast course in July and August 2019, when we spent a week reimagining Peter Bellamy’s Maritime Suite for our group of 22 instruments, which we performed at FolkEast Festival. I also really enjoyed the Open Session performance as part of the Debussy Mirrored Full Course. My top experience has been meeting some of the UK’s best saxophonists through AYM, such as Christian Forshaw, Naomi Sullivan and Jess Gillam, who I’ve had since had some masterclasses with. AYM also helped in finding me a new teacher and I now have regular lessons with Christian Forshaw.

How do you find the social and residential aspects of the scheme?

Everyone is really nice at AYM, and I’ve made lots of good friends. Through AYM, I’ve formed a folk group with Vera and Rachel, and have performed with them at local folk festivals. It’s really nice to do music in the day and then go back to Elizabeth Court and chat, play games and go to the beach in the evening. 

What have you learnt about music?

AYM has been able to offer me opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had and has also introduced me to so many different genres and styles. Being a part of AYM has meant I have been able to develop my musical skills as I have worked with other musicians and fellow AYMs that I have also learnt from. AYM also found me a new saxophone teacher, Christian, who is great at helping improve my technique. 

How does being an AYM influence your future?

Being at AYM I have heard what other musicians do, which has given me more ideas and inspiration. It has shown me that I can play in any style – so I can do anything I want to – I don’t feel restricted to one genre.


After meeting Jess Gillam at Snape, Lauren’s family were able to arrange another masterclass session after a concert in Cambridge!
"AYM has been able to offer me opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had." Lauren