“Teamwork makes the dream work”, calls music instructor Christopher Sayse as he leads more than 50 young violinists in rehearsal.
The eccentric conductor oozes a passion for both music and teaching as he takes the lesson at the city’s new Music Centre, based at Coldside Campus, Alexander Street.
For many of the violinists – all under the age of 12 and from primaries across the city – it is their first time playing as part of an orchestra.
And in around six months time the group will be playing as part of the city-wide orchestral show, Dundee Schools Annual Spring Concert, at Caird Hall.
“The level of concentration you can see happening here and human interaction – it’s great,” says Paul Clancy, executive director of Children and Families Service, at Dundee City Council.
It’s the second week of lessons at the newly opened Music Centre, following closure of the iconic centre on Bell Street.
Mr Clancy said: “The Music Centre on Bell Street was there for a long time, it was iconic but it was an old building with no disabled access.
“Moving the centre felt like an important change. Children and parents were used to going there, we wanted to make sure we retained the numbers.
“We spoke with parents and young people about what to do and decided to make the best use of the facilities that we have.”
As a result the council chose to create a central base for music lessons at the Coldside Campus, which houses Rosebank and Our Lady’s primary schools.
Additional lessons are held at schools throughout the city, including guitar tuition at Harris Academy and rock and soul jazz groups at St Paul’s Academy.
Mr Clancy said: “This is only week two but it seems to be a great success.
“We had more than 50 children at each of the rehearsals last week and the initial feedback we’ve had is positive.”
Councillor Stewart Hunter, children and families services convener, accesses the Music Centre as a parent as his daughter plays the violin in one of the orchestras.
Mr Hunter said: “It’s much easier to get here than the Bell Street facility because you can park right outside.
“And there’s space for parents to sit and wait, and to watch if they want to do that, which we couldn’t do before.”
He said he thinks opening up school buildings in the evening for music lessons essentially takes tuition to the community and encourages more to pick up an instrument than would otherwise have done so.
Mr Hunter said: “Children gain so much from learning to play an instrument.
“Having to sit down for half an hour, concentrate on reading music and learning to play something is great for their self-discipline, and that translates into classwork.
“It also gives them a sense of achievement once they’ve learned how to play the piece.”
He added that playing in an orchestra or band was a good social experience, offering a chance to meet kids from across the city.
Any child in Dundee who is interested in learning an instrument can do so free of charge.
The council’s decision to drop fees for music tuition and instrument hire has seen a surge in pupils learning to play, aided by the work of the Aspire Dundee Project and Big Noise, both of which help support pupils through performing arts.