Music makes you feel good.
Beethoven said: "Music should strike fire from the heart of man and bring tears from the eyes of woman." Jimi Hendrix put it another way, saying: "Music is my religion."
Gary Barlow said; well, you get the idea.
It is a love of music which gets 300 school children out of bed early on a Saturday morning to make music at Ealing Junior Music School.
From 8.30am they and their music teachers take over 35 classrooms at Twyford High School in Acton for lessons on almost every instrument of the orchestra plus singing and guitar. Most take part in some of the 15 orchestras and ensembles, including a 50 strong philharmonic orchestra. There are three choirs, plus musicianship classes for the youngest children.
Katie Dalton, 17, has progressed over eight years from playing fourth flute to first flute, and is equally accomplished on the saxophone.
She says: "I love playing in the orchestras; there’s nothing wrong with getting things wrong and there is always somebody more experienced to help you. You never have to play a part on your own unless you want to. It’s fun."
Talk to any of the teachers and the emphasis is on fun. Cellist Andreas Manoras directs the elementary string ensemble in which beginners play arrangements by him and Costas Manoras from works like Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Andreas, who gets the children to answer the register by calling out their football teams or favourite cheeses, says: "It has to be fun, the children are choosing to come, and it’s the weekend. And learning a musical instrument is one of the hardest things you can do."
The hub of EJMS is the café. Run by parent volunteers, it raises vital funds and pays for new instruments. But parents can get involved musically too.
There is an adult choir, which performs along with the other ensembles at the regular end-of-term concerts. Chris Brown sings in it while his daughter, Clara, ten, has a cello lesson. He says: "Making music together is a life enhancing experience; it’s a fantastic thing to be able to do and a very nice way to spend an hour. EJMS is very pleasant socially."
And yet EJMS almost closed in the last recession when Ealing Council could no longer fund it. It was saved in 1993 by a group of parents who formed a charitable trust. Since then pupil numbers have increased three-fold.
John Hudson, chair of the trustees, says: "EJMS is unique. There are one or two local authority run music schools in London, but they are under severe pressure. I am proud of our achievements. In particular, we have eight bassoonists; the bassoon is one of the rare-breed instruments and along with the French horn is the most difficult to play. And we get some outstanding exam results with most of our older pupils achieving grade eight in Associated Board exams."
Music director Scott Price is also director of music at The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. He conducts the EJMS philharmonic orchestra and takes a special interest in the children’s choirs which perform a variety of music from pop to jazz and classical.
He wants to encourage more children to come to EJMS, particularly if they want to sing, or can already play the trumpet, clarinet, tuba or trombone; instruments which EJMS ensembles are short of.
He says: "Although we have little spare capacity for lessons there are always places for boys and girls to join our choirs or play in our ensembles. Often in schools there aren’t enough children who play instruments to make music-making work well, and I suspect there are lots of children who would benefit a great deal from joining us. Children who play in ensembles progress faster than those who don’t, whilst singing in a choir is the best possible way to learn music. But much more importantly than that, making music together is great fun."
You can try out an orchestral instrument for free at a Come and Play Day at Twyford High School, Twyford Crescent, Acton on February 4 from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. The first term in choirs and ensembles is free. For more information visit www.ejms.org.uk or call 020 8930 0579.