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From Sydney Opera House to Bishop Gore - the musicians teaching in Swansea's schools

By day they can be found teaching in classrooms and school halls across Swansea - at night they perform in front of hundreds if not thousands.

Ros Evans

Many of the 39 teachers working for Swansea's Music Unit are not strangers to the stage.

Among the more recent recruits is Swansea-born singer Ros Evans who has performed with the Welsh National Opera and the Royal Philharmonic, graced venues including the Sydney Opera House and regularly appears on television and radio.

Despite her hectic schedule Ros has returned to teach pupils once a week at the school she attended as a youngster - Bishop Gore.

She said: "It's far more gratifying than standing on a stage singing and far less solitary.

"It's massively rewarding - explaining something to a student, and then if they do not understand having to come up with a different way, keeps you on top of your game."

But what she really loves about promoting music in schools is its inclusiveness.

"There are some pupils who are not academic but music puts everyone on a level, like sport. You just come and sing and you express yourself in a way you feel happy with and a way in which you feel comfortable."

Cellist Sophie Nash joined the team in October and said what she loves about teaching is the excitement of students as they learned new skills.

"It is very different to performing, although I have found since teaching I've become better at performing. You have to totally understand your instrument to be able to explain it in so many different ways to different students that it's almost like you're teaching yourself at the same time," she added.

Sophie Nash

Among Sophie's more unusual recent public performances was taking part in the Roald Dahl weekend in Cardiff where she performed while dressed as a fox.

"It was probably one of my strangest concert dresses but a great day - I thought it was a great way for young people to access live music.

"Coming from a non-musical family, I can't stress how important it is for there to be access to music lessons through school.

"If it wasn't for my local county service providing cello lessons in my primary school I would never have experienced all the amazing opportunities I've had."

Tuba player Simon Howell is a member of Cory - which has been ranked as the leading brass band in the world for the last 10 years in a row.

The Brass Instrumental teacher said: "What I try to take back into the classroom from going around the world and playing at such a high standard with professional musicians is to show the children the opportunities that are out there if they work hard.

"Teaching is so enjoyable - to see someone you have taught since they were a beginner and they are still playing three of four years later and passing exams is just so rewarding."

Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education, Jen Raynor, said: "We are lucky to have so many fantastic professionals working with the Swansea Music Unit who are passing on their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to pupils across the city.

"Since the unit was set-up in the summer more than 80 per cent of Swansea's schools have signed up for the service which has meant thousands of children having access to high quality tuition at a cost to schools that is well below what other schools pay in other parts of Wales."


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