• The Choir that Breaks Down Barriers

    “Some of the barriers the choir members have had to overcome in their lives is a testament to their resilience and determination and a positive example of what young people can achieve.”

    The Choir that Breaks Down Barriers

    By Renee Jackson, Creative Careers Academy Intern at Creative United

    Orange Box is a state of the art centre for young people based in the heart of Halifax. Everything, from the building, to individual projects are created and driven by the young people who attend the centre.

    In addition to four music rehearsal rooms, Orange Box has a visual arts room, skate park and a performing arts space.

    The introduction of the Orange Box Choir in January 2018 has had a demonstrable positive impact on the young people involved. It was established in response to demand from local people. Under the leadership of Jamie Eagleton, the choir is opening its doors for young people in Halifax from all musical abilities. We spoke to Jamie about how music has become an outlet for the difficult challenges they face in their day to day lives.

    What was the inspiration behind starting The Orange Box Choir?

    I started The Choir as I could see there was a real need for an inclusive environment, where young people could express themselves musically.

    The Choir is made up of children, young people, volunteers and support workers from Orange Box, Youth Works, Project Challenge, Next Step Trust, Young Foundations, Calderdale College, Ravenscliffe High School and other local services and schools.

    The Orange Box Choir in performance

    What kind of music making and performing opportunities are involved?

    The music provision at Orange Box young people’s centre is provided by Square Chapel Arts Centre as part of their Community Engagement Programme.

    In addition to The Choir, there’s the Orange Box Rock School, a fun, band performance-based music project for young people aged 11-16yrs. It’s so successful that Outreach Sessions are also delivered at other youth centres, in partnership with Calderdale Youth Service.

    There’s an annual summer music festival called Routes, a family-friendly event where young musicians to perform on two stages (acoustic and bands). We also offer access to facilities at low costs, such as hiring out rehearsal spaces for people under 19 at only £3 per hour.

    The aim for each, is to increase opportunities for young people to gain skills, collaborate, increase confidence and meet like-minded people.

    How do the music experiences offered by Orange Box help young people?

    It is so important for young people to have something in their lives they can focus their energy on. The Choir provides them with the necessary support and resources to build confidence, develop relationships and skill sets. The progress we have seen in the young people we have already worked with has been rewarding for them and their communities.

    Seeing young people who are lacking in confidence, now being able to perform to their local community makes us all proud. Some of the barriers the choir members have had to overcome in their lives is a testament to their resilience and determination; a positive example of what young people can achieve.

    How do you think the work you have done has impacted the young people you work with?

    Some people in The Choir have never sung before, some have disabilities or additional needs, and may be experiencing difficult circumstances, but all are passionate about singing.

    The Choir is a huge confidence boost for them and creates a positive experience in an environment in which they feel safe. We give them the opportunity to go out into the community and perform, boosting community cohesion and supporting other local causes.

    Where can people find out more about Orange Box Halifax?

    Here’s a link to the section of the website where more details on Rock School and The Choir can be found –  http://www.orangeboxhalifax.org/events.asp



    Jamie performing a solo in ‘A Change is Gonna Come‘ by Sam Cooke, with The Orange Box Choir

    A list of other activities at Orange Box

    Contact Jamie on 01422 433200 or via hello@orangeboxhalifax.org

  • How to choose your first piano

    “It is always advisable to play the actual instrument you are going to purchase”

    How to choose your first piano

    At Take it away, we recognise that buying a first piano is a big commitment, families or musicians may find it hard to know where to start. One of our piano retailers approached us with their guide for first-time piano buying, which we are happy to share with our audience here.

    Clement Pianos in Nottingham, is now a third generation family business. Owners Mick and Andy Wilson, are both piano technicians, trained by some of the world’s finest makers. They have spent many years carefully selecting what they consider to be the ultimate instruments in each class and price category.

    A piano makes a great first instrument for learning the foundations of music. Beginner pianists require an instrument with the same features that a more advanced player needs – there is no such thing as a beginner’s piano, so here is what Clement Pianos suggest you should look for when choosing your first piano:

    Shop locally for tailored advice

    Visit a shop and don’t be afraid to speak to staff. Try out a few different pianos, find what you like and get advice that addresses your needs and aspirations for yours or your child’s playing. You will receive as much technical information as you require. Build a relationship with the staff as they will help you when it comes to your piano’s maintenance and performance.


    A shop that offers technical support is essential. A piano is a complex piece of mechanics that may require some adjustments and attention to maintain optimum performance. Most dealers will provide aftersales services within their area, but few will travel 100 miles to fix a squeaking pedal.

    Clement Pianos

    Clement Pianos’ impressive Nottingham showroom


    Acoustic pianos naturally deteriorate over the years. Strings will lose resonance, felts and leathers wear, which may affect the performance of the action. The structure may also change due to the strains upon it.

    With these factors in mind, it’s best to choose a modern piano where possible. There are far fewer manufacturers than there used to be, and on the whole, the quality of construction is very good. Even new instruments of the same make and model, built at the same time will vary in performance so it is always advisable to play the actual instrument you are going to purchase.


    Some pianos have a soft or warm, mellow sound while others can be bright or have a harder sound. Decide which you prefer, and which sounds suits the kind of music you’ll be playing.


    This is how the piano feels to play. The touch can be light through to heavy and more or less responsive to your touch. Feel is important as it affects your timing and your playing style.


    The appearance of the piano is important if you want it to match its surroundings. A piano is a piece of furniture as well as a musical instrument so consider where it will be used, whether it needs to be moved, and how it fits in with your lifestyle.

    Piano teachers

    Remember that finding the right teacher and choosing a good instrument makes learning and playing music fun, and no one gives up doing something they enjoy. Your retailer will often have many connections with local music teachers, so do ask them for recommendations.

    More info

    Find your nearest piano dealer by searching Take it away shops

    Find a qualified piano teacher near you via The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and ask in your local music shop.

    About Clement Pianos:
    See Clement Pianos‘ showroom, displaying some of the world’s most amazing models by Blüthner, Kawai, Haessler, Irmler plus many more well-known brands, and find out about available maintenance services.

    Contact Mick and Andy on +44 (0)115 970 1106 or at info@clementpianos.com