A STAFFORD man first bitten by the music bug at primary school is looking for future superstars.
Simon Allen, Simon Allen, director and teacher at the Staffordshire Music Centre, developed a passion for music while growing up in Great Haywood.
The clarinet was his first choice of instrument but a supply teacher at Anson Primary School introduced him to piano and kick-started his music career.
He got his first job as a church organist at the RAF chapel thanks to two more teachers at Weston Road High School who recommended him.
More gigs followed, including one as musical director for the Rugeley Musical Theatre Company - all while studying for his GCSEs and A levels. He then went on to study for a degree in music at Newcastle College.
“Getting to know my fellow musicians on the degree course was an eye-opener,” said Mr Allen, pictured.
“Before hearing people gloat about being on tour with their bands, playing in pit orchestras and big bands I felt OK with what I had achieved prior to uni.”
He knuckled down and went on to play with big bands, pit orchestras and function bands, as well as working as a music arranger, publisher, composer, private piano tutor and even setting up and managing his own bands and business ventures.
With a wealth of experience under his belt he decided to pursue his long-standing ambition of opening a music school and 26 years after he first thought of it Staffordshire Music Centre became a reality.
“It was the journey I had taken from growing up in Stafford, to living in the North East and even London at one point, that sculpted my ambition to bring new musical and creative experiences to Stafford, to help build on the already rich heritage and current musical achievements in the county town.”
Mr Allen said he sometimes felt growing up in Stafford that he had missed out because of a lack of opportunities.
In opening the centre he wanted to prevent other aspiring musicians from feeling the same way.
“We want to help them grow creatively with the hope to inspire others who haven’t yet found their creative side to do so,” he said.
“Staffordshire Music Centre is for both children and adults, adults who have never had the opportunity to complete a lifetime’s ambition to play a musical instrument and for children to develop and nurture an interest and passion in music and maybe, just maybe, we will have the next superstar from Staffordshire on our hands one day.”
The centre is in Caxton House on North Walls. For more information see www.staffordshiremusiccentre.com or call 01785 211945.