Leeds music centres start a lifetime of music for two Leeds brothers

Picture caption (Top) Carl Banks and (bottom) Mark Banks practicing their skills first learnt at South Leeds Music Centre"

Two brothers from Beeston are encouraging people across Leeds to start a life-long love of making music by enrolling in one of Leeds’ eight music centres, this weekend.

Carl and Mark Banks, who have notched up 70 years of music making between them, have South Leeds Music Centre to thank for starting them off on their musical journey 35 years ago. The centre, which this year celebrates its 40th birthday is one of eight centres provided by Leeds City Council’s music and arts service Artforms.

Enrolment has now begun at Leeds music centres, which provide tuition in a wide variety of instruments, as well as the opportunity to join bands, classes and singing groups. There is something for everyone and all ages. In a relaxed setting, students can learn an instrument, play in a band or an orchestra, or sing. Concessions are available for people on low incomes.

The Banks brothers joined South Leeds Music Centre over 35 years ago – and went on to enjoy a life-time of playing their instruments.

Carl joined when he was 12, he said:“A young person may be having half an hour music lesson at school, but if they don’t have an instrument at home, a music centre is the best place to go.

“It’s local, you can play anything, whatever kind of music you’re interested in is respected, you always feel included, it’s not at all cliquey. Private lessons can be too dear, plus you don’t get the chance to play with other people.”

At the Music Centre he was able to take up keyboard and drums, and was one of the youngest players in the Concert Band.

“Playing with more accomplished players, getting used to performing, having encouraging teachers – these helped me gain confidence and improve.”

So much so that Carl went on to the College of Music and then studied music at university. He has since played in many bands, written and produced his own music, been on radio many times, played at festivals and recorded albums. He continued:

“Music is a universal language – I went to live in Poland, and the first thing I did was look for a band to join. You meet like-minded people, make friends, you’re accepted.”

Mark started with the trumpet when he was small – his dad used to play, and when his dad put it down, Mark picked it up and had a go. Mark explains:“Through the Music Centre we had the opportunity to perform concerts at many different venues including going on trips abroad to Germany and the Isle of Man, which was an opportunity to show off what you had been learning. Back then it was really the only chance you had of playing live music. There is no better feeling you get when you perform and make people laugh, smile and clap. This is why I still want to keep playing and performing today!”

Mark also went on to study music and work professionally and semi-professionally - in the last 35 years he has only had 18 months off playing, touring and recording, all this whilst raising a family as well as maintaining a normal working life.

“Now I’m teaching drums as I want to give back some of what I have learned over the years.

“Playing alone at home is sometimes not enough. You have to play with other people to really progress.

“Music is a special thing – if you’ve got an interest, you need good teaching and support and it will give you a life-time of pleasure.”

Mark and Carl’s dad, David, has played the trumpet and piano throughout his life, and now, 75 years young, he has taken up the bass guitar and has performed with a jazz band at Bridlington Spa. David said:

“You might enjoy kicking a football in the street, but it really takes off when you join a club. That’s what music centres do for you.

“I first got interested when I saw my grandma’s piano when we lived in Harehills. It was an old upright, in her front room – no one was allowed to touch it, I was told off for lifting the lid and having a go.

“Children don’t know they have talent till they try, they need to experience playing and support from their family.

“When my aunty took me to see the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall aged 11, I was so amazed at the huge sound and all the instruments, it changed me, I wanted to learn more about them.”

“Mark told me recently: ‘I can’t do without music. I’ll never stop playing.’”

For full information about all the classes, times and locations for each music centre please visit artformsleeds.co.uk/musiccentres or contact Artforms on 0113 2475499 or email educ.artforms@leeds.gov.uk.

For information on Mark’s drum tuition programme please visit: mb-drumtuition.co.uk

For media enquiries please contact:

Frances Bernstein
Music Centre Coordinator
07759 563 848