“We have seen generations of families come to the school” – celebrating 35 years of AS Music School

Exposed pays a visit to AS Music School in S8, a leader in Steel City music tuition for over 35 years.

“I think sometimes when people think of music schools, they might imagine a strict atmosphere with tutors like J.K. Simmons in Whiplash!” laughs Karl Sheehan, partner at AS Music School. “But this is a very happy, fun place to be.”

We’re sitting in the office space at the school’s premises in Woodseats, formerly a GP surgery and now a bustling music hub where 400 students regularly attend to learn a wide range of instruments and skills. It’s early afternoon on a weekday, so all is quiet and calm as it stands. However, I’m assured that if I was to return around 5pm, I’d be treated to a symphony of booms, twangs and vibrations emanating from the 13 teaching rooms scattered throughout the building.

“We’ve got an extremely talented, diverse group of tutors here,” says Karl. “That’s also reflected in our students, and we teach an age range spanning from 3 to 5 years through to people in their 80s and 90s. We’ve been going a long time, so we are well established in the area and have seen generations of families come to the school.”

Students at AS have the opportunity to learn a wide range of musical skills.

AS Music School was originally set up by Karl’s mum, Anne, 35 years ago, and has since seen an estimated 2,000 students pass through its doors. Initially starting out in the back room of their family home, the school grew significantly over the years and moved to its current premises five years ago.

A legacy which has seen thousands of Sheffielders taking their first steps in music at AS is something they are keen to celebrate after reaching their 35th anniversary – and rightly so. “It’s a really positive thing to be part of, whether they’re going on to make careers in music in various ways or learning lifelong creative skills. It’s something to shout about.”

Away from the practice rooms, students have plenty of extracurricular opportunities to get stuck into. Regular shows are booked for bands from the school at venues across Sheffield – there’s one coming up soon at Toolmakers Live – providing an opportunity for students to gain experience playing in front of a gig-going audience.

It’s all about making sure the experience is a well-rounded one, where students can explore a variety of routes while staying true to the school’s tagline: Enjoy Making Music. “Nurturing creativity is a big part of what we do, and we try to be as consultative as possible,” says Karl. “We don’t have a set syllabus and try to cater for individuals as well as we can.”

“We’ve got an extremely talented, diverse group of tutors here. That’s also reflected in our students.”

“For example, if you’re doing piano lessons, you might be doing something entirely different to what the person in the room next to you is doing. We have people working towards exams and sitting them here, but we also have students who never plan on taking exams. In one room, we’ll have someone learning opera, and in another, we might have someone learning an Ed Sheeran song.”

We briefly explore the various practice rooms and spaces, each decorated with tributes to the musical influences of the resident tutor and students. In one room, a communal ukulele class is in full swing, while just across the hallway, a private session in musical theatre is taking place. Karl nods towards a small production studio, which has provided its services for a student looking to release music on Spotify.

We teach an age range spanning from 3 to 5 years through to people in their 80s and 90.

Tour complete, I take my leave as another cohort of students arrive for their afternoon slots. It was only fleeting visit, but that’s all you really need to realise the significance of these types of institutions – not only as a pillar of creativity and education but as a vibrant hub where the community comes together to explore their musical passions, irrespective of age or background.

Here’s to another 35 years of Sheffielders celebrating the joy of music at AS Music School.

Words: Joseph Food 

Find out more at
2-4 Cobnar Rd, Woodseats
0114 2748939


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