Henley Music School Launches Premises Appeal

Henley Music School who provide individual and group music lessons in schools, after-school clubs, Music School Sundays and the Youthful orchestra have launched a premises appeal on Friday night at Trinity Hall on Harpsden Road.

The run down old hall is currently owned by the John Hodges Trust and plans are underway to secure a mutual legal agreement for Henley Music School to partner with the Trust and refurbish the hall which would include a new roof, windows, heating, solar panels etc.  The hall would become the school’s premises with a large performance space with a stage, plus practice rooms and storage for musical instruments.  Laura Reineke, Founder and Principal of Henley Music School said, “We want to future proof ourselves and continue to provide an outstanding music service to our town that we are very passionate about.  It is all about creating a community hub and somewhere the children can come.  We have looked at a lot of places over the last few years.  It will be somewhere the children can practice, rehearse, and do their homework. We would also have on hand a teenage counsellor. It would be like a youth centre with music at its heart.  We have had surveys done and we are in the middle of getting a statement of works which we think will be around £500K. This place is incredible; we want to keep its integrity with warmth and comfort to run the school here.”

Paul Greengrass, Film Director of many very high profiles films including the Bourne series and Patron of HMS said “Plato said music was the soul of life, Keith Richards said you can feel music in your bones which I think is pretty much the same thing.  It comes from the inside and nourishes us all. I’m very lucky to have spent a large part of my life in and around music.  One of the things that I loved about Henley when my children were growing up was there was a lot of music in the town.  Alfie, Chair of Henley Youth Festival, got my children up on stage many times to perform at the Henley Youth Festival.  The school here has been a central part of it.  I remember you (Laura) asking what instrument my youngest daughter Betsy wanted to play and you suggested the cello. She loved carrying the cello, polishing the cello, pretending to play the cello, not practising the cello!”  We did however have some wonderful concerts and made some lovely memories so this is a very integral part of the life of Henley and it’s nourished and sustained many, many young people so I hope it will have a wonderful future here.”

The school currently provides 140 individual music lessons a week and there are up to 100% bursary on all those lessons.  All children on the autism spectrum get free piano lessons and a free keyboard delivered to their home.  Laura said, “Bursaries after Covid have skyrocketed and we don’t want to put any barriers in the way for a child learning to play an instrument or read music. We touch every child when they are in primary school.”

During the evening on Friday, Laura and HMS tutors performed including The Beatles classic, Here Comes the Sun, a thank you nod to Olivia Harrison who has supported the Henley Music School with a large donation for several years from The Material World Foundation.  Laura’s 19 year-old daughter, Ava sang a beautiful Aria from Mozart’s, Marriage of Figaro and Eva a 13 year old displaced Ukrainian, who is being hosted by Laura played Laura’s violin as she didn’t managed to escape with hers.  HMS is offering all displaced families from Ukraine, free music lessons and free loan of instruments.

Tim Hoskins, Head teacher at Badgemore School, “The Henley Music School started coming to the school a few years ago starting working with a small group of children.  One of them was autistic child and the second was a disengaged child from a disadvantaged family.  Both had struggled at school.  We strongly believe that behaviour is a form of communication. The autistic child wanted to tell us that he wanted tor relate to others and wanted to talk to them.  The other child was telling us that he was struggling with self-esteem.  Their engagement was instantaneous and more than that it brought them joy.  This was no small part to their teacher, Alison.    These were children who would struggle to keep quiet in assembly but within 3 months they were performing in front of the whole school.  Watching their faces light up as they performed was truly magical.  This confidence poured out in those assemblies and into the classroom.  It transformed their time at school.  Henley Music School has brought music to life through our pupils. Giving them an introduction to music which would not be matched outside of Henley.”

Laura thanked her fellow Henley Mermaids who raised £38,000 for Henley Music School when they swam the English Channel in July 2020 which was ringfenced for premises for the school. Laura added, “We want to provide a community hub for the young people in the town and we need the kind people of Henley to help us achieve it.”

If you would like to know more about Henley Music School or help with the appeal, please contact Laura at henleymusicschool@gmail.com