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First look inside £9.5m Black Country music school

By Harriet Evans | Brierley Hill | Education | Published:

Fine tuning is taking place at a £9.5 million music school in the Black Country ahead of its launch in September.

In the recording studio are councillor Ian Kettle, with CEO David Barnard and director Rick Benton

Applications have been coming in for Resonance and open days for prospective students begin next week and the Express & Star has been given a sneak peek inside.

The spacious Cable Plaza building on the Waterfront, Brierley Hill, has been completely renovated over the last six months into a learning hub for youngsters looking to break into the music industry.

The building, on the doorstep of the Merry Hill shopping centre, includes performance spaces, recording studios, rehearsal rooms, radio studios, study spaces and a marketing suite – completely transforming the former office building, which had been empty for eight years.

New music school, Resonance, which is due to open soon at Cable Plaza, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill

Some of the top-of-the-range instruments and equipment has been donated by industry partners Marshall, Roland and SSE Audio which donated a mixing desk, which has been used at some of the world's largest festivals including Glastonbury.

Resonance will provide undergraduate degrees in Popular Music Performance, Production, Digital Music and Music Business. Also, in the pipeline is a degree in Education and Wellbeing, due in 2021.

By the third year, following the graduation of its first cohort, the institute is hoping to offer an MA course in Contemporary Music Performance.

A range of courses will be provided under a franchise arrangement with Solent University in Southampton with courses uploaded to UCAS this summer.

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New music school, Resonance, which is due to open soon at Cable Plaza, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill, councillor Ian Kettle in the rehearsal room

Rick Benton, director of Resonance, said: "It is very much a practical hands on approach that we will be offering.

"What we have already is our partners designing briefs for the students to work on, so they will be working on real live industry briefs with the professionals.

"It's that partnership with the industry that will lead how our students will be educated, and in terms of employability, it's a direct route into the industry if that's the path they want to follow."

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The building itself has been designed with students in mind, featuring large study spaces, private rooms and an onsite cafe.

New music school, Resonance, which is due to open soon at Cable Plaza, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill

A feature of the building is a mural showing the work of Chris Cronin, chairman of Resonance, who has designed iconic stages for Madonna, ELO, Kylie, Queen and Peter Gabriel - which bosses hope will help inspire students to think about the various careers they can pursue in the music industry.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise at Dudley Council, said: "This could turn out to be immense, the prospect of training young people for the music industry by people who have had a lifetime of experience is fantastic.

"We look forward to seeing what great successes come out of this, which I'm sure they will."

New music school, Resonance, which is due to open soon at Cable Plaza, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill

Resonance has already forged a number of links with community partners, including with Black Country Radio, who will have an onsite studio at the school to work with students to produce their own programmes.

In the future they also hope to create a Saturday music school, work alongside a local performing arts groups and new Brierley Hill venue Red By Night, offer music therapy sessions and work with people with disabilities, making it accessible to all.

It is hoped that the multi-million build will help to breathe new life into the Waterfront and bring new investment into the area and bring employment opportunities for local people.

New music school, Resonance, which is due to open soon at Cable Plaza, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill

David Barnard, CEO of Resonance, said: "I think it's very important that the students here see music in terms of how music plays an important part in the community.

"We want this to become the music hub and that will have a spin-off in terms of regeneration and we've already seen that begin.

"What we hope with these links it is a reflection of the real world. We hope that if you walk around the school you will see our students, but you might see mums coming in with toddlers to a kinder music class, retired people coming in for a music and movement class.

"It's more than just a university and it's very important for our students to see that."

CEO David Barnard and director Rick Benton at the new college

Applications to Resonance must be made directly through the institute on its website.

Harriet Evans

By Harriet Evans
Community Reporter - @HarrietEvans_ES

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, covering the issues affecting young people across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Contact me at harriet.evans@expressandstar.co.uk

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