Music school needs money after finding a new home

HENLEY Music School has found a base and now hopes to raise around £500,000 to upgrade it.

The school, which has until now operated through local schools and private lessons, will be based at Trinity Hall in Harpsden Road and will have performance and practice spaces and instrument storage.

Laura Reineke, who founded the school in 2010, hopes to be able to provide a musical education to all children in the city.

She announced the move at a special event in the hall attended by around 60 people, including director Paul Greengrass, who lives in Henley, Mayor Sarah Miller and other councilors and school teaching administrators .

The event included performances by Ms Reineke, a violinist, her daughter Ava, 19, and teachers, students and alumni of the school.

Ms Reineke said the school had grown significantly, with hundreds of children now receiving lessons, and she had been looking for a dedicated space for some time.

She said: “We want to prepare for the future and continue to provide this service to the city.

“It’s a fabulous space and we would like it to become a youth center but with music at its heart, a place that will have everything the kids need and they can do it here.

“This space is amazing and we want to keep its integrity but with the comfort we need to run a school. I started school in 2010 and it skyrocketed from there. We have grown so much that we now cover all the schools in Henley and there is no more space – we need our own space.

“We offer all kinds of musical lessons, with around 140 lessons per week.

“We offer full scholarships and many children have applied for scholarships, particularly in the wake of covid, and we don’t want to put limits on what we can do. It is vital that we continue to fundraise.

“Thank you to all my administrators and teachers.”

Mr. Greengrass, whose films include Bourne supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), said: “According to Plato, music was the soul of life, it comes from within and nourishes the soul. One of the things I love about Henley is that it’s a music town, it’s a wonderful place for music and the school is a fantastic part of that.

“My daughter learned to play the cello and we had some wonderful gigs and it’s a very important part of Henley’s life and nurtured many young people so I want to thank Laura.”

Ms Reineke opened the event by playing a piece with some of the school’s teachers, followed by a performance of pupils playing piano, flute and cello.

She then introduced her daughter Ava who sang an aria by Mozart Figaro’s wedding.

There was also a performance by 13-year-old Eva-Mariia Pavliuk, who fled Ukraine with her mother Inna Krasnova and now lives with Ms Reineke at her home in Damer Gardens. She played the violin accompanied by Mme Reineke on the piano.

Ms Reineke said: ‘She plays my violin because she couldn’t pick up hers while they were fleeing Ukraine. She’s only played it once but she’s very good.

“As a school, we offer free music lessons to Ukrainian citizens who had to leave their country because of the war.”

Tim Hoskins, Principal of Badgemore Elementary School, spoke about the importance of music lessons for children.

He said: “It’s a pleasure to be here to support the school of music – it’s a little ironic because I have little musical knowledge, rhythm or talent.

“I’m not a musician, but as an educator, I learned the importance of music from my students.

“At Badgemore we believe that behavior is a form of communication and these music lessons have been helpful in so many ways.

“Within three months of starting these classes, the kids were performing in front of the whole school. Seeing their faces light up and hearing them perform was a pleasure and those classes defined their time at Badgemore.

Ms Reineke and the school teachers then performed a version of Eternal flame by The Bangles and Professor Stuart Lewins played the theme from the 80s children’s television drama Johnny Briggs with a trombone.

Ms Reineke thanked her friends and fellow open water swimmers Jo Robb, Susan Barry, Fiona Print and Joan Fennelly, known together as the Henley Mermaids, who raised more than £36,000 for the school by swimming together in the Channel in 2020.

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