Major milestone prompts special celebration for music academy

12/06/24 | Tenant News

A business specialising in helping kids live their musical dreams is staging a special festival to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The XYZ Music Academy will showcase the talent of Buckinghamshire youngsters at its home on Westcott Venture Park on Saturday, July 20th.

The day will feature live music performances from bands and acoustic acts, workshops, taster sessions and opportunities for visitors to unveil their musical skills.

Founder Duncan Lee said: “We have several of our student bands as well as others run by the staff and friends of the academy. Across the day, I'm hoping up to 500 people will attend and there'll be a food vendor and a bar so there will be plenty to eat and drink.”

Duncan Lee founded the Academy at Westcott in 2014 and the business has since grown to work with 32 schools and more than 1,800 students, achieving an impressive 98 per cent exam pass rate.

XYZ provides high-quality music tuition across Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties in both private and school-based scenarios. It has delivered more than 50,000 hours of lessons over the last decade.

The academy also offers a comprehensive, customisable music curriculum resource for schools. This has been created and developed by experienced teachers dedicated to empowering schools, ensuring pupils receive high-quality music education.

Throughout the year, XYZ runs a variety of workshops including Band Experience, XYZ Music Camp, Strings and Things and vocal classes. A new studio is also rented to upcoming bands for rehearsals and recordings, providing excellent equipment and experienced professionals to cater for all music, sound and video projects.

Duncan added: “When I started, I was a sole trader offering drum lessons. Then I teamed up with my brother and co-founder of XYZ Music Academy Michael Lee and we have developed into a 16-strong team offering young people opportunities with all kinds of instruments. Student numbers have grown from 20-40 a week to more than 2,000 across the county.”

While the growth has been impressive, Duncan has equally ambitious plans for the next 10 years.

“The dream for me is to grow to a team of more than 50. But to do that, we need to have more centres. The plan is to build music pods at schools around the country.

“Primary schools in particular struggle with space with the population growing and schools having to admit more children. As a result, they are having to lose their auxiliary rooms to create extra teaching and breakout spaces and it is more challenging for them to find room for music lessons.

“So, the plan is to kit out shipping containers with a couple of rooms in each, one being a sensory room for music lessons for kids at that school and the other as a peripatetic centre so we can teach during school hours and also privately outside of school hours.

“That would enable us to have many smaller centres around Buckinghamshire giving us more reach and allowing us to grow quickly without having to significantly increase our running costs.”

Duncan is convinced that being based at Westcott has helped the business grow.

“When I started, Westcott was nothing like it is now and I thought I'd set up in the middle of nowhere. But people are happy to drive, especially for drum lessons because it's rare that you can make a lot of noise somewhere and not be told off.

“The value of being at Westcott has grown because it's more populated now while the links between Bicester and Aylesbury are much better so we have a good catchment here.”

Such is its success, XYZ is generating significant recognition. In 2023 Duncan won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category at the Buckinghamshire Business Awards and the business was mentioned in Parliament by Buckingham MP Greg Smith.

Duncan said: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to our staff all our students for all the support along the way. We have many long-standing clients, some of who I've watched grow from six years old up to 18, and they're going off to university now.

“It’s the commitment to their music education that we really appreciate. We want students who want to learn and stay with us for the duration. They're the ones that make it all worthwhile, when you see them reach their potential.

“We're trying to build a culture where students know, as soon as they come in, that they will have the opportunity to play in a group, a band or an ensemble so they are inspired to keep going.”

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