I interviewed Sarah Nerval, one of the many specialist music teachers at the Music Craft Community Centre in Newport and asked her what it is they have to offer people, how it has become such an integral part of the Island’s musical community and why the company’s central aim of making music accessible to all is important to her.

Music Craft C.I.C is a non-profit organisation which provides the opportunities for people to receive a musical and performance based education, it runs community activities where independent, private music teachers and volunteers work together in an attempt to make music more accessible.

The main community hub is located on Newport High Street, however, there are also further music lessons offered by Marie, the director of the company, at the Riverside Centre studio space that they have.   

Sarah is a brass teacher and SEN specialist, and has been a part of the team at Music Craft C.I.C since March 2023.

When asked about whether this is her full-time job she said: “For me personally it isn’t but I would love to be doing this full-time, however, unfortunately the uptake of brass is particularly low compared to most other instruments.”

Sarah hopes that one day she’ll be able to take on teaching full-time and therefore have the opportunity to get more involved with the company side of it as well, wanting to be able to do some more volunteering and run community groups. 

Music Craft C.I.C offer an incredibly wide range of instruments available to receive lessons in, some of the teachers and what they specialise in are as follows: Jamie Woodford and the drums, Mike Wells and guitar, Lorna Brownsword and woodwind, singing, piano and theory, and IJN Music covering violin, cello, double bass and ukulele lessons.

Sarah said: “We have most areas covered and we’re reaching out to other teachers as well so that we can offer an even wider range. We’ve had some interesting inquiries recently of people wanting to learn the harp or the bagpipes, so we’re making connections and links with potential people we can refer them to.”  

I asked Sarah whether or not there is a particular demographic of people they see signing up for lessons, to which she responded: “I’d say it’s very varied, some of us love teaching little ones, some of the other teachers do prefer older learners or adults. My personal youngest student is eight so there’s a very broad age range here and that’s what Marie believes in, she wants everybody to have the opportunity to learn music.” 

The Music Craft Community Centre also offers rooms to hire for rehearsal space.

Sarah said: “We’re beginning to average 20 hours a week of room bookings, so we are gradually building quite a strong regular income.”

This is an important aspect as Sarah pointed out how they don’t receive any funding.

She said: “What’s left after the costs of the building is then used to go into the community so that we can run activities and provide more opportunities to people, any money we receive from donations is also put into running activities.

“We’ve got so many different genres now that use the facility which really helps I think get us out there and obviously the styles and genres from those bands vary from, for example, a vocal and piano duo right up to a rock band, we have the Bob Howarth Big Band sax section come and rehearse on a Sunday afternoon and have also had a brass band use the space, so through the room hiring we are able to add to the variety of music here.”  

I ended the interview asking Sarah what it is that she personally finds so enjoyable about teaching music.

She answered: “For me it’s sharing the joy of music with others, it was my outlet when I was younger and I don’t know where I’d be without it, so actually being able to share it with others now and seeing the impact it can have, especially working with those neurodivergent individuals and seeing how music has benefited them is so rewarding. It’s one of those things money can’t buy, money definitely helps but actually it's that reward of knowing you’ve made a difference.”  

I loved getting to talk to Sarah about what it is that Music Craft C.I.C offers our community, and left the interview feeling even more certain that places like this are so fundamental to the Island.

No matter the skill, whether it’s music, dance, sport or anything else, having places like the Music Craft Community Centre allows people to explore their talent and enriches the lives of all the people involved.