What people say

Comments from those who have known EYSM for years

The first time I went to EYSM, I was 14, and it was the first time I was on a trip outside Belgium without my family, in a strange language I learnt from reading Harry Potter, but as so many others, I felt at home after a surprisingly short time. A new world opened to me, I learned to play music in a way that I never thought I would be able to. Being tutored by Andy Sherwood and John Crawford was a privilege, and so awesome I will remember it for the rest of my life.
Being at EYSM not only made my world bigger and more beautiful, I met people I will always look up to, symphonic orchestras and composers like Mahler weren’t as scary any more, and in short, they were the best weeks of my life.
Pieternel Vanherpe
Medical Student, Violin
I have such great memories from EYSM as a student, house-staff and tutor for over 11 years! The special thing about EYSM is the collaboration between the staff and the students, working and performing together in such a positive and open way, but also enjoying all the social and sporting time. Cricket matches ending in the rain, It's a Knockout . . and so much more. These memories have lived with me and some of the skills I learnt and developed at EYSM have helped me to get where I am now.
Tim Davy
LSO Tour Manager, Tuba
All three children were quite young and inexperienced when they started and I must admit that I was initially afraid that they might be intimidated or feel marginalised playing alongside older, experienced and such talented others. On the contrary - EYSM's inclusive, democratic way of working immediately put them at ease, gave them confidence and, most importantly, ignited a love for playing music with others that goes from strength to strength. Neither their father or I went very far with music as youngsters and so we are amazed and delighted to see our children surpass our own efforts and engage with what I'm sure will be a life long involvement in music. I am quite convinced we have EYSM to thank for that.
Kate McKinley
My son Joe attended EYSM for several years in the early 2000s - he played trumpet.Then my daughter Emily went as a singer/string player and my daughter Jessica went as a member of house-staff. As a parent I was always astonished at the high standard of performance on the Saturday. I've still got lots of videos and 'photos from that time.
Pat Haig
Musical Mum
I was just 12 and had never been on summer course before. As I walked into the grounds for the first time I was even more terrified. But, within 10 minutes I was fine. I had already made so many new friends and didn’t even say goodbye to my mum and dad before they left!
I have so many amazing memories of my years at EYSM – the fantastic opportunities to play such challenging pieces, the many musical groups to participate in and the hilarious activities organised by the house-staff, Andy frequently moving the violins around, allowing so many of us the opportunity to lead the string orchestra. A daunting task, but the fact that Andy believed in us and encouraged us to just give it a go made me feel so important and valued as a member of the orchestra. I am a much more confident player thanks to EYSM!
Freelance musician, Violin
My brother and two sisters used to go to EYSM, so I always came to the concert each year to see them play or sing. I could see that they had so much fun and when I finally was able to go and play my double bass I was pleased to be able to play even the hard music with the help from my double bass tutor and the conductors. I was in the last desk at first, but improved to the front desk; then decided to do first study singing which I enjoyed a lot, especially recording a song of your choice as a solo. The other activities were lots of fun, like the 'talent show' where I did my Irish dancing. You make friends from all over Europe and I have kept in contact with them since 2006 which is something special.
Emily Hiller
Singer, Double Bass
A 10-year old (who had been playing the viola less than a year) sitting at the back of the Orchestra 2 was made to feel as if she was the most important person in the orchestra . That experience of being treated as a valued musician within an amazing ensemble is one I will always think of as being unique to EYSM. That, to me, is what EYSM means. EYSM always provided an opportunity to play challenging repertoire at a level I didn't experience in any other orchestras I was in during my teens. The instrumental coaching was second to none, and the sheer number of different musical activities offered in one week was outstanding.
I made friends for life at EYSM, and certain memories will always stay with me. Having loved the course so much as a student, my work as house-staff has been a joy and a privilege as I watch students having the same fantastic musical and social experiences as I did; some coming back year after year!
Liz Dollins
Director of Boarding, Viola
I have so many memories of being house-staff at EYSM. "It's a Knock Out', with students and tutors competing fiercely against each other and of course the tutors always winning - perhaps with some assistance! The recreational side of EYSM was always something to look forward to. Night time renditions of Winnie the Pooh, with costumes and a healthy amount of laughter!
However, my fondest memories are of the fabulous music created by the students and staff. Each year I had to step out of the hall at some point as I was totally overcome with emotion as I listened to the final concerts. Inspired by the conductors and in awe of the talented students, it is always a privilege to play a part in this course.
Neill Oldham
School Headmaster
Others have spoken about the fantastic musical opportunities but, for me, EYSM was far more than that. EYSM was about friendship. The friends that I made at ESYM have remained. So what if we only ever saw each other for one glorious week a year? It is the testament of a solid friendship that we were always able to carry on right where we left off. Back in the days before Facebook or even mobile phones I wrote and received letters from fellow EYSMers – reminiscing for the first few months and brimming with anticipation for the rest of the year. All these years later, nothing has changed except the technology.
EYSM was a special part of my summer. I lived with, laughed and cried with EYSMers. I have been on holidays with them, seen them get married and met their children. I even chose an EYSMer to be my best man when I got married! We are united in our memories and our love of those wonderful, bonkers, and truly unique summers at EYSM.
School Teacher, Viola
My first ever memory of EYSM has to be going for the first time and arriving in a new place and not knowing a single person; it was scary but soon forgotten. I guess that is one of the magic powers of EYSM! Everyone coming together to share one passion; to create fantastic music and to meet other like-minded musicians. I will always remembering playing new pieces like “The Hymn to The Beauty that was” and being told the story behind the piece; and “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story” when Conductor Andy wore shades and came into the concert with two bodyguards! Looking back now at the wonderful years I had at EYSM, I can certainly say the skills and experiences I learned and encountered at EYSM have helped me get to where I am today. Long may it continue!
Benjamin George