music changes young people’s lives

Case STudies

NOA DEWALLY (Instrumental Winner 2019)

I’m Noa, a second-year music student at the University of Birmingham, primarily studying percussion performance and I was the winner of Staffordshire Young Musician of the Year 2019.

My experiences of playing in multiple years of the competition have inspired me to continue exploring my passion for music, giving me the space to develop the performance skills and the self-confidence to continue studying music at degree level.

Playing alongside with musicians of such high quality in both the heats and final of this competition always pushed me as a musician, with the competitive element between performers (many of whom were my friends from music service ensembles) encouraged me to always endeavour to create performances of a high standard. Putting this competitive aspect aside, I always remembered Staffordshire Young Musician events as having a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, from both the competitors and the judges, which allowed me to use it as a platform to take musical risks in my playing.

I also remember how the feedback given in performance sessions enabled me to continue developing as a musician. From these constructive comments I was able to see my performance through an external set of eyes and ears and as a result, I discovered ways of improving my music that I had never considered before! I always remember that regardless of your ability, the judges would always be supportive of you as a performer, highlighting your successes whilst encouraging further development.

The overall experience of participating and winning Staffordshire Young Musician of the Yeare has shown me how the support and encouagement of FOSYM through this event has been essential in my development as a musician. Since winning the competition in the summer of 2019, I have been involved in various musical projects including working for the Music for Youth National Festival and being part of the CBSO Youth Ambassador scheme for the academic year 2019-20. Without the confidence boost that came from participating in and winning Staffordshire Young Musician of the Year, I would have never even tried to apply to be part of incredible opportunities such as these. To see Noa’s winning performance please click here.

DAISY MITCHELL (Vocal Winner 2015)

Daisy won Staffordshire Young Musician of the Year in 2015. The link below shows Daisy talking about FOSYM and the Staffordshire Young Musician of the Year competition.


Watch Daisy perform ‘Das Rosenband’ by Richard Strauss.



I am currently co-Principal ‘cello at the Philharmonia Orchestra with a busy schedule of London and regional concerts, world touring and recording music for film, TV and even video games.

As a child growing up in Staffordshire I believe my musical education and experiences there were instrumental in me being able to pursue such an amazing career!

I was singled out at school by the Director of the Music Services for Staffordshire when I was 6 years old.  He heard me play the piano and offered me a tiny ‘cello to play – I’ve never looked back.  I had a peripatetic ‘cello teacher from the music service called Rosemary Whalley.

I went to play in orchestra on a Saturday morning with Quentin Duerden in Newcastle-under-Lyme.  I joined the rather long-winded County School for Potentially Talented young Musicians (or Talent School) on a Thursday night and then the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra on a Friday night.  There was even a coach to take me to Stafford!  We had structured rehearsals (Alex Fawcett) with standard repertoire and we even went on tour!

Having all these things available to us made a huge difference and the possibility of a career in music became a reality.

Following on I joined the National Youth Orchestra and had Saturday music training and lessons at the RNCM in Manchester.  An Academic degree at Trinity College, Cambridge and a postgraduate degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London followed, and also a position in the European Community Youth Orchestra.

Then I achieved my first job in the BBC Philharmonic followed a few years later – with positions in the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and finally at the Philharmonia Orchestra.

I truly believe I have a debt of gratitude to the Staffordshire County Music Service, FOSYM and to all the people there who helped me on my way.


Being able to perform in the County Orchestra, Wind Band and County Chorus gave me the opportunity to develop my musicianship on a higher level while still at school.  I strongly believe these experiences helped to prepare me for a career in the classical music industry.

As a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music I’ve had the opportunity to perform across Europe and develop my artistry but I know without studying with Catherine Mason (my Entrust vocal teacher) during secondary school, I never would have discovered my passion for singing or have known about conservatoire education.

I’m one of a few students at RNCM to reach conservatoire level after having the majority of my lessons at school which is testament to the quality, enthusiasm and commitment of Entrust vocal teacher.

FOSYM and Entrust have continued to support me through my early career giving me performing opportunities and encouragement!

Robert Heath

Memories of Staffordshire Music Service over the last 50+ years

My first memory of working with the Music Service was as a young teenager (14 years old I think) and I sang Bach’s St Matthew Passion under the direction of Maude Smith.  A formidable woman to a young lad. I remember her voice booming out in Lichfield Cathedral one rehearsal ‘there is a man singing with the girls’, he didn’t sing with them again!

I’d already reached grade 5 piano by 10 so this experience really started me off on my musical life, even though professionally I’ve taught science for most of my life. At college I sang madrigals and performed in light operatic performances, the highlight being when I played Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas. When I started teaching, I was in all the musical performances and when I went into primary education, I produced many musicals and also wrote them where needed.  My claim to fame is that my Artful Dodger in year 6, one year, went on to star in Hollywood films, on television, became a director and won an Oscar 3 years ago.

I was Chairman of the Friends of Staffordshire’s Young Musicians for several years up to October 2008, which brought me even closer to the County Music scene and with the help of a dedicated and talented committee we put FOSYM on the road to becoming the success it is today.

In 1994 I joined the Caravan Club and it just happened they were looking to form a concert band, my daughter joined playing the clarinet so it seems a good time to learn the saxophone which I’d always promised myself I would do, I still play with them to this day currently playing baritone sax but learning the baritone horn to play in the Whit Marches next year. I also play in a local concert band and sing in Rhapsody a community choir in Uttoxeter in addition to singing in the County Chorus for their annual performance in Lichfield Cathedral.

Sadly, there isn’t room to list all my musical exploits over the years, but one thing is certain the quality of the Music Service in Staffordshire over my lifetime has been outstanding and I don’t think it is going too far to say that without this musical beacon in the county, it is unlikely I would have done all the things in music I have. Indeed, my two daughters have all played with County groups and orchestras and benefited from music lessons in school.

Robert Heath – October 2022.