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The National Junior School
Belton Lane PrimaryCliffedale SchoolGrantham Prep Lower SchoolHarrowby Infants SchoolHuntingtower ChoirHuntingtower Community SchoolLong Bennington C of E SchoolSt Annes C of E SchoolThe National Junior School2015 Trophy Winners Concert

Welcome to the Grantham Music Festival Website

MUSIC TEACHERS please see section below in the middle column

Welcome to the Grantham Music Festival Website

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Use the password to get into the Teachers' Area

Not registered yet? Click HERE

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The deadline for entries has now passed. 223 entries have been received - a big increase compared with 2016 - and a programme has been put together for what promises to be a wonderful Festival. We have performances in the new percussion and harp classes. The Primary Schools Music making - in which 8 schools will be participating - will start at 1.00pm on Wed 8th March at Finkin Street and the first of the class sessions will begin at 7.00pm the same evening at the Kings School. The remaining class sessions take place at Finkin Street: Thursday 9.30am, 2.00pm, 7.00pm, Friday 9.30am, 2.30pm, 7.00pm, Saturday 2.30pm, 7.00pm, Monday 9.30am, 2.00pm.

Nationwide logoThe Nationwide Building Society has choosen the Grantham Music Festival to be one of three nominated charities in their Community Match programme. This guarantees a donation of £100 to the Festival and allows Nationwide customers in local branches the opportunity to vote - the charity gaining most votes will receive a further donation.

The 3rd February edition of the Grantham Journal has a full-page article about clarinettist Oliver Pashley (see Testimonials below). Oliver describes the importance of the Festival in his own development as a young musician and the page can be accessed HERE

Would you like to be a Festival helper? If so do come along to our helpers meeting at 7.30pm on Thursday 23rd February in the Parlour at the rear of Christchurch, Finkin Street.

Register as a friend

The Festival Committee has learned from experience that it is very hard to gain and/or retain music teachers on the Committee. We do understand that you are incredibly busy.

A Committee needs fresh ideas and moral support from those who would love to be more involved but just can't fit it in. We would therefore like to inaugurate a new idea - a 'Cloud of Friends' who have no responsibilities to attend meetings but who can still stay closely involved by electronic media.

If you as a teacher would like to be a Friend - in effect a consultant - please register HERE. Being a Friend means we communicate with you by email updates or the message board in the 'teachers area' of this site. It also means you can likewise communicate with us and your peers. The other benefit is that you as a pre-registered Friend can enrol your students using the ONLINE ENTRY system that we are setting up later this year.

Propagate awareness using social media

It seems to be a Law of Nature that at the end of every Festival we hear of teachers who hadn't realised it was on - or had never even heard of it! We accept a degree of responsibility - we could probably be more aggressive in publicising the Festival.

However, as we now live in a world of human networks connected by social media, we would like to encourage teachers and students to share news about the Festival on Facebook, Twitter, etc. In this way we hope that nobody who would like to enter will be left out through ignorance.

Prioritise the Festival with your students

Pupils or students are the lifeblood of the Festival but their teachers are the 'agents' who normally send in the entries. Teachers are busy and, it would seem, so are their students to an ever increasing extent.

We recognise that the Festival is just one of many stages on which a student may perform and it is by no means the only one run on a competitive basis. However, for those in the 'Grantham catchment', it does offer a unique chance to perform and compete within a peer group and to receive expert feeedback that can help develop and polish musicianship and performance skills.

Past performers have testified to the importance of the Festival in their own musical journeys. Could you therefore please encourage your students to make the Festival a priority in their calendar.

Heidi Fardell:

I still remember how I felt sitting and waiting to perform at the Grantham Music Festival like it was only yesterday! That peculiar mixture of butterflies, excitement, nerves, fear, fun...all whilst trying to focus on the impending performance!

I started performing at the festival at Junior School and performed every year throughout my secondary education whether it be with a KGGS ensemble, as a soloist or in an ensemble setting.

The festival gave me such valuable experience in many aspects of my musical training. For me, the focus of working towards performing in a competition with constructive critique given by professional musicians was extremely useful and inspiring, not only listening to my own feedback was useful, but also the comments given to all the other performers.

Each class always had such a sense of occasion, and I believe it's so important to learn and experience the finer details when performing in public, such as performance practice, how to present oneself on stage, walking on/ off a stage, communicating with an audience and building and shaping performance style. These are all things that a platform such as the well respected Grantham music festival gave me and many other young musicians.

Having the opportunity to perform in such a beautiful venue as Finkin Street church is a really special privilege. Winning any of the classes I entered was an enormous achievement as the standard of entrants was always so high, and then being invited to collect a trophy or perform again at the trophy presentation concert was a huge and very exciting event!

I feel very grateful to all the experiences I've had and learned from at the Grantham Music Festival, and feel its had a big impact on my musical education.

Thank you Grantham Music Festival!

Nathan Hassall:

As I was growing up the Grantham Music Festival gave me an invaluable opportunity to perform each year and the various classes allowed me to perform many different styles which was a fantastic benefit to my saxophone playing. I remember in my Upper 6th year at King's School I performed as a classical soloist; in various jazz bands (both large and small); with a couple of sax groups; a pop group; a wind band; and also a duo (which even managed to get "Happy Birthday" into a medley of jazz numbers!). Now how's that for diversification?!

Eleanor Parry-Dickinson:

With a family home in Grantham, Eleanor cannot remember a single year without performing several times in the Grantham Music Festival! Looking back to life growing up in Grantham the Music Festival was a fundamental part of the annual calendar. I remember the whole experience as being nerve-wracking yet also exhilarating and inspirational. I have so many memories I could be a terrible bore but here are the most abiding recollections:

- listening to the announcers of each class.
- the nervous wait in the pews whilst you listened to the other competitors.
- the quiet noise at the back of the church as the calligraphers raced against the adjudicator to write out the certificates.
- the chance to hear other performers play, especially the most senior students as well as the entrants at the family class.

Looking back on the festival it was an incredibly important part of building performance experience as well as opening ones awareness to what other music was out there. I wish the festival all success for the future as it inspires the next 50 years worth of youngsters.

From Oliver Pashley:

The Music Festival was, for me, integral to my future musical development. The Festival was one of the few opportunities for me to gain experience of performing from a young age, and with the invaluable adjudicatorís comments in the inspiring setting of Finkin Street Church, it really was an indispensable part of my overall musical education.

When learning an instrument, it is all too easy to become holed up in a practice room, only focused on passing the next exam. What the Festival does is give the opportunity to actually perform something, to bring it out of your living room or bedroom or wherever and actually show something for the time youíve spent practising, to communicate with and bring pleasure to others via music, which surely is why most of us do it in the first place.

And this is why the Music Festival is so important. By giving people the chance to perform music, it makes all the practice seem worthwhile - and given that the Festival is one of the biggest platforms for performance in Grantham, itís vital that the support for it continues; not just support from the committee and helpers (although without their extremely hard work, the festival wouldnít happen), but support from musicians themselves, for this is the reason the Festival exists. Personally, the confidence that the Music Festival gave me really did inspire me, and I canít see myself wanting to pursue the clarinet professionally without thinking of the support and opportunities that the Festival provided.

Nicola Pulford:

Nicola is thrilled to be back at the Grantham Music Festival, where she made her first public performances in primary school, winning a number of trophies during her school years. It was here at Finkin Street that she received the advice of adjudicator and renowned vocal technician Coral Gould that set her on her chosen career path, a moment to be truly thankful for.

Carla Rees:

My first music festival performance was at the age of 7, and it was also my public performance debut. I remember feeling excited about playing and really loved it! I won the 2 year beginners' woodwind class, and was hooked on performance. After that I entered a whole range of classes every year, including solo classes, ensemble classes (with school groups at KGGS and with the Grantham Music School) and the Festival became a pretty major performance event for me each year. I even entered some of the piano classes, despite my total lack of confidence in the piano, and later some of the composition classes. I don't think it is possible to overestimate the value of the experience I gained through performing at the festival every year for 11 years. It was undoubtedly an important part of my early performance career, and I will always be grateful to the organisers for making the opportunity available!

Helen Winter:

My Music Festival memory is very extensive. With Mum and Dad both being the main organisers when I was a child, I feel I spent all my childhood there under Finkin street roof and I loved every minute of it.

My first time performing there, I guess I must have been around 5 years old. I took part in EVERY class I could, every year until I moved to London to study my opera training.

I performed in the violin classes, piano classes, vocal classes, choir classes, woodwind classes. I also helped out as a runner and with tea and coffee in the breaks.

I went on to perform several recitals at Finkin Street once my vocal career kicked off. It has always been very important to me to keep in touch with the people in the town who guided me in my chosen career, many of whom I suspect will be here at the concert on March 17th.

I was heartbroken when I heard Finkin Street was up for sale and so I am delighted that this didn't happen and I am getting to perform under this roof one more time.

The 2017 Festival

Entries have now been received for the 2017 Festival which will start on Wednesday 8th March. The Trophy Winners Presentation and Concert evening will take place on Saturday 18th March where our guest presenter will be Adam Williams.

2017 Syllabus

The 2017 Syllabus which has information about all the classes is now available and can be obtained in hard-copy format from local outlets or as a pdf file by clicking HERE.

Our guest adjudicator will be Richard Haslam [⇐ hover cursor for more information].

Richard Haslam

Sponsors and Patrons

Our Main Sponsor is the Trust Group

The Trust Group

Our other Sponsor is Simmonds Music Simmonds Music

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In addition we have a faithful band of Patrons who give generously to the Festival year in, year out. Some of them are listed in the Festival Programme each year. Do Contact Us if you would like to become a patron

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Our supporting schools are

  • Grantham Preparatory International School
  • Long Bennngton CE Academy
  • The National CE Junior School
  • St Mary's Catholic Primary School

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We also gratefully acknowledge the generosity in recent years of the estate of the late Miss Anne Abbott, the Rotary Club of Grantham and the New Youth Theatre.

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The Festival would like to express its sincere gratitude to all its supporters for their generosity and encouragement.


Finkin Street

The Festival, since its restoration in 1963, has had a long-standing and close relationship with ChristChurch (formerly the Central Methodist Church) on Finkin Street. The majority of sessions are held there, including Primary Schools Music Making and the Trophy Winners Concert.

Grantham Town Map

Click on the map to open a modified copy of the Google Maps page showing Grantham town centre. The one-way system around Finkin Street and nearby Pay and Display car parks are also indicated.



There is a wealth of musical activity and opportunity in the Grantham area. Every year, when trying to organise dates and schedules, the Festival planners have to take careful note of competing events that might siphon off performers. We are probably not the only organisation to have this problem and the idea of a centralised online calendar for musical and related events in the region has been suggested as a way to, at least in part, mitigate this perennial headache.

We would value feedback about this proposal - contact us.

For those who are always banging on and harping on .....

percussion We are pleased to announce new options within the ORGAN and SENIOR CITIZENS classes and brand new class categories covering HARP and PERCUSSION (drumkit and tuned percussion classes).


Calling All Teachers

Are you a music teacher, either school-based or independent? If so, could you please spare a few moments to read these three paragraphs:

  • Para 1....
  • Para 2....
  • Para 3....

The 2016 Festival

Ian Hytch

The 2016 Festival has now finished. Our thanks go to everybody who took part, both in the Primary Schools Music Making and in the competitive classes - we enjoyed some wonderful performances. We would also like to thank our guest adjudicator Ian Hÿtch (shown above). Click here on the RESULTS and the list of TROPHY WINNERS to find out more.

The programme for the Trophy Winners Concert can be seen HERE and our thanks go to Festival vice-president Geoff Winter for being our guest presenter and for relating an amusing report about the Duke of Wellington and a very early incarnation of the Festival. Here is Geoff on the evening sporting his British Empire Medal:

Geoff winter

Young musicians, remember Geoff's parting message:
Never give up and you'll never be bored.


[click on image to open a website with more information about the person shown; click on the name to show their testimonial]

Heidi Fardell

Heidi Fardell

Nathan Hassall

Nathan Hassall

Eleanor Parry-Dickinson

Eleanor Parry-Dickinson

Oliver Pashley

Oliver Pashley

Nicola Pulford

Nicola Pulford

Carla Rees

Carla Rees

Helen Winter

Helen Winter

Are you an active musician with memories of performing in the Festival? If so, do send us your reminiscences.

October Concerts

October Scene

From 2013 to 2015 the Festival staged concerts at The Kings School in early October. Primarily for fund-raising and launching the new Syllabus, these also afforded an opportunity for 'mature' past-performers to return and for trophy winners who were unavailable for the main concert in March to perform.

Programmes and reports:

   2013 Programme

   2014 Programme   Report

   2015 Programme   Report

Reports kindly written by Gill Charles

No concert was held in 2016 but plans for Autumn 2017 have yet to be made - watch this space.

Federation Logo

This Festival is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech of which Her Majesty The Queen is Patron.

Grantham Music Festival is a Registered Charity (No. 1044961).

The Festival is grateful to the Grantham Journal for many of the photographs shown on this site and for permission to use them.

Site last updated on 20th February 2017

Anne Abbott Trophy

Anne Abbott Trophy

The Anne Abbott Trophy, donated to the Festival by close friends and family of the late Miss Anne Abbott following her death in 2013, is awarded to the performer(s) giving. as judged by the adjudicator, the best performance of the Festival

Winners of this trophy:

  • 2014 Jeneba Kanneh-Mason (piano)
  • 2015 Joseph Kirkwood (piano)
  • 2016 The Oasby Violin Quartet

As for 2017 - who knows?


Massive Congratulations

Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Congratulations to Sheku Kanneh-Mason for WINNING the BBC 2016 Young Musician of the Year competition. Sheku along with other members of his family are past performers in the Festival, both in competitive classes and in October Concerts.

Bacc for the Future - Updated

Big Ben

The Department for Education has announced plans to make the narrowly defined English Baccalaureate (EBacc) all but compulsory in schools. The EBacc proposal means that every pupil taking their GCSEs would have to study a minimum of seven, narrowly defined, GCSEs: English literature and English language, maths, double or triple science, a modern and/or ancient language, history and/or geography. The average number of GCSEs taken by pupils in England is eight. If these plans become a reality, there would be little room left for pupils to study art, dance, design, drama, music or other creative subjects.

A parliamentary debate was forced by signed petition and was held on 4th July. Click HERE to view the debate and HERE to read the transcript.

Belters and Clangers

Not so many years ago the 'Songs from the Shows' and Handbells were regularly ranked among the 'wow factor' classes in the Festival schedule. Sadly, entries in these classes - and others - have been dropping off.


The Festival draws performers from quite a sizeable catchment so if you are a singer, instrumentalist, composer, in a choir or in a group or ensemble even somewhat remote from Grantham, please consider entering in 2017. What's more, there's no age limit! Have a look at the classes on offer - there should be something for everyone.

But Seriously ....

There is an old joke (& it predates 'Father Ted' by decades, if not millennia!) that says:

   How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
   Answer: Practice !!

In that vein, we would like to hear how you would end the motto: "Aspiration without application and perspiration inevitably results in ...."

Contact Us. The sender of the best answer gets a free ticket to the Festival AGM.