Try this: the XYZ Music Academy
Say hello to Duncan and Mike Lee, the two brothers who are onto an absolute winner with XYZ, a rock school in Westcott, between Bicester and Aylesbury for anyone who wants to learn a ‘rock’ instrument and play with other musicians of similar standard.
The little Muddies are all forced on pain of death to be musical, but being a modern nurturing mother, I’ve told them they can always stop their multiple instruments when they get to Grade 8 (Joke. Kind of). I’m ex musical, like I’m ex slim and ex good at tennis, but music is a real love of mine and I still enjoy nothing more than to sit at the piano cocking up my trills. In utter opposition, my oldest son loathes playing anything truly classical and it was plain he couldn’t be bothered to play the piano at all, so I ripped up the Mozart and brought in a brilliant jazz teacher (hello Matt), and that solved the problem.
This is a very long-winded way of explaining that I thought, as a jazz pianist, it would be fun for my son to have a jam with other people, and that’s I thought I’d booked at XYZ. But I got it wrong and I’m mighty glad I did because we ended up having a hilarious family drumming lesson that was so much fun we rebooked on the spot.
What I had actually organised for my son was a drumming lesson, and because I came with my youngest two kids too and had booked the hour, we ended up having one drum lesson altogether. Look, here I am – Home Counties mum giving it some welly playing We Will Rock You. Yeah baby!
Let me tell you that this lesson was about the best fun I’ve had with the kids for ages. You’d think it would be difficult to teach four people drums at the same time but because there are simulated kits to practise on before you get to play the real drums together, it all felt remarkably smooth and easy. We were all sitting in a semi-circle looking at Duncan, so we could smile and laugh with each other too. It was a real giggle and I actually ended up booking the older two kids some classes as they were just so excited afterwards.
If drumming sounds like a bit too loud for your sanity, the brothers also teach keyboard and bass at the centre, and it’s also used as a rehearsal space and recording studio for either students or amateur/pro musicians. There are plans to introduce brass so that students can come together and jam. That really will be amazing.
The studio is set on the Westcott Business Park which is also used as a research site for rocket development (seriously) which is why there are checks on the gate and one hell of a drive to get to the various buildings. It does feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere – a plus for a rock school one could argue – though actually you’re a two minute drive to The Akeman Inn, a five minute drive to fabulous The Hundred (ex St John chef Matt at the helm) and a ten minute saunter to Waddesdon.
Lessons are good value, particularly if you have multiple children and they can do the lessons together, as you’ll only pay the hour. But importantly, Duncan and Matt are really approachable and relaxed – my kids loved them – and they’ve hit on a great idea . Not every kid wants to be the next Lang Lang or Nicola Benedetti, and I think it’s a particularly good option for kids who are opting out of classical music – it will keep them playing, but to a different, quite possibly much louder tune.