18th December 2021

Closed Over Christmas and New year

Open for lessons as usual from Wednesday 5th January 2022


Learn Guitar * Bass * Ukulele * Piano * Flute * Sax * Composition * Music Theory

Stop yearning and start learning with Northern Music Academy.

There's so much on offer, from Guitar to Banjo, Piano to Composition, plus online lessons too. Want to learn woodwind? We offer Flute and Saxophone lessons. Fancy Singing or Bass Guitar? No problem, just email or give us a call.

At long last, learn music - there will never be a better better time than right now.

News * Developments * Updates

Music lessons online




29.03.20 – Darrell Priestley

This is not a message I ever imagined writing, even at the beginning of March, but it turns out a lot can happen in a few weeks. Really! Right now, we are all reeling from the massive changes to our lives. But mercifully, the changes will be temporary, in a while we’ll be allowed out again, and provided we all behave ourselves and do the right things, it should be ok. In the meantime, we can only make the best of it, picnic in the front room, and probably learn some useful new things, such as resilience!

As of 23rd March, the Northern Music Academy has sadly had to close it’s doors to our beloved musical family for the first time in over 31 years, except for holidays – ( holidays! what are they?). It’s unprecedented, and quite bewildering, but step 1) of the Reslience Handbook says ”always make an opportunity out of any unexpected situation”, so that’s ok.

For the next few weeks, or however long it may be, we want to keep you on track with your music. Playing or singing music regularly will help us all keep in a good mental place, stay motivated and focused, have fun, and making smooth progress. Now doesn’t that sound like an opportunity to improve? I rather think so. Perhaps there will even be a special prize for most progress made at the end of it; just think, you could be in the running! And, if so, that would make you more of a winner than anyone in the 2020 Olympics – Awesome!

Using the internet, we intend to stay in touch, hear you play and watch you make progress, using live conferencing software. Wow! We just have to learn how to use it first. You won’t need to be an expert, (but if you are you can probably show me how to do it!) and of course the technology will need a little bit of learning, but it’s suddenly looking like we will have the time to do so, and even if we are a little slow at the start I have the feeling that soon we will all become rather good at it.

All this means quite a bit of organising for us at first, but as soon as each teacher grapples with the conferencing software and gets their head around the lesson booking arrangements, they should be in touch with you to suggest possible options for you. Whatever happens, don’t panic, you can always email us if you get stuck; Eileen or I will get back to you as soon we can, hopefully within 24 hours.

FInally, there have been whispers of Eileen opening up her famed ‘challenges’ to the students, fiendish competitions where I am usually out of my depth, and where other people inexplicably have an edge on me, even the tots. I don’t know how she picks them, but I’m getting better at losing – well, I’ve had a lot of practice by now!

Stay safe everyone, and see you soon online.

Best wishes Darrell

Ian Clayton tells ‘A Northern Music Story’




Some years ago, in the course of my work, I met Ian Clayton for the first time. Ian had brought his son, Edward, to try out out for piano lessons. At age 4, Edward had just expressed an interest in learning piano, and so began a teaching relationship that took our families’ through Edward’s growing up years and led to lasting friendship.

Fast forward to today, and Edward works in adult education, but music remains a big part of his life, and he plays piano regularly with The Glass Caves. When I mentioned to Ian that we were updating the Northern Music Academy website, he was kind enough to volunteer a story for publication on the website, and the completed story duly landed in my in-box the very next day.

This lovely story tells of a child’s musical journey, from a family point of view. A simple tale, told with great tenderness from the perspective of a loving parent, this edifying story is now available to read in the news posts on the new Northern Music Academy website. I find it quite moving; perhaps you will too. I commend it to you.

A Northern Music Story




by Ian Clayton

The seeds for the friendship between our family and Northern Music Academy were planted one Sunday morning in the summer of the year 2000. We sat at the kitchen table, Heather, Billie, Edward and me, to tuck into a big cooked breakfast. It was one of those lazy Sunday mornings, when breakfast takes ages, the coffee smells good and pieces of the newspaper are propped on marmalade jars. I washed the pots, Heather dried them and the kids sided them away. I put a Miles Davis record on. Edward, who was four at the time came to sit on a little wooden chair and listened. He didn’t say anything at first, just listened. He listened to the whole 9 minutes and four seconds of the opening track ‘So What’ and then said, “I like this Daddy what is it?” It’s not every Sunday morning you’re going to get an appreciation of the improvisations of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the coolest cat whoever prowled the keyboard Bill Evans, by a four year old in Featherstone. It knocked me back a bit. “Well it’s a kind of jazz by a trumpet player called Miles Davis.” Edward just went “Ummmm!”

Later that morning we went for a walk up in the woods, Billie, Edward and me. Billie hid behind trees to say “Boo!” Edward held my hand. He gently ‘dee-dahed’ to himself, almost under his breath. ” Dee dah dee dah dee dah dee dah dum…dah dah!” It seemed almost surreal in the middle of a quiet wood. “What are you singing Edward?” He had that cheeky smile on his face when he said, “Don’t you know Daddy, it’s Miles Davis, a kind of jazz music.” Over lunch I asked Edward what musical instrument he would like to learn. He didn’t blink for thought, said straightaway “I’d like to play a piano.”

By coincidence our neighbour’s daughter was throwing out an old Danemann upright. We managed to find a space for it and called a piano tuner. On his first visit the tuner told us the piano was approaching it’s 100th year. I joked that Edward ought to play an improvisation on Miles Davis’s “So What!” when the piano reached 100.

We came to Northern Music Academy, I recall saying to Darrell, “I know he’s only a nipper, but can you take him on?” Darrell said “We welcome the young ones who show enthusiasm.” On that day Edward’s musical tuition in this unique and family orientated learning centre began. Edward was eager and Darrell was patient. I will never forget that joyful moment, when after what seemed to be just a few months tuition Edward played in public at an Academy showcase in front of an audience of parents. He wore a little Dickey Bow and a waistcoat for the occasion. Edward did his weekly lesson on a Saturday morning. We walked together the two miles from our house to Pontefract. We told each other stories and dreams as we walked. We did that walk together for the next fifteen years and more. You could count on one hand the number of lessons Edward missed. All the way through his teenage years nothing ever got in the way of piano lessons. When the Academy organised playing holidays abroad of course we went with them. We had great fun in first Italy and then France. We still talk about the Northern Academy ensemble that played on the sun dappled quayside on the Île de Ré. And when we munched home made pizza after a concert in the town square in the ancient Italian village of Dolceaqua.

Edward did three or four grades, but passing exams wasn’t the be all and end all for him, he much preferred learning an eclectic mix of pieces that ranged from well known classical to blues to pop and jazz.  Once he got into the world of work Edward found it harder to keep his regular Saturday morning appointment. He’d also got himself the keyboard players job in the band Glass Caves, the drummer in that band was schooled at Northern Music Academy too. They’re a good band, they were well taught. 

Edward still plays most days. He’s got a rather elegant electric piano now. The old Danemann still stands against its wall. When it was 100 years old Edward played an improvisation on Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue.’ He played it beautifully. He was taught beautifully.

Music exams – What, when and why




Learning music benefits us in so many ways that studying for grade exams might be viewed as incidental; yes, it is a handy option that is open to us, but certainly there is more to life than testing. However, it is also true that grade exams can richly support a student in their development, which we would wholeheartedly encourage.

When weighing up whether to start work on music exams, timing is an important factor. For most of us, at some time or other we will really benefit, but for beginners there is little value in rushing into grade work. Far more important is to develop a love for making music, and acquire that key ingredient, the practice habit.

I try never to see any music grade as an end in itself. Certainly, it is a measure of something; that you did some work, that you made some progress, that you developed a certain amount of self discipline. But for grades to be meaningful, you need a sense of mission, because most of all they are about the work you do along the way, which can be work of real quality if you are committed and actually enjoying it.

Of course, everything may not go right first time, but sometimes life’s most memorable lessons derive from experiences where things do not initially go to plan. As we learn how to respond to set backs, they can be highly educational, and a student on a mission to prove to something to him or her-self after an earlier disappointment may take far more from the whole experience than another who coasts to high marks.

Ultimately, many of our students get real satisfaction from grade work, but from my perspective play and practice should generally lead, and exams follow, rather than the other way around. That way, you can set a really high performance level naturally, and your exam results should reflect this.