A pupil-teacher pop group belting out hits spanning three generations brought the house down at their South Hylton Primary Academy music concert.
Shh – short for ‘South Hylton Harmony’ – comprising 13 pupils and teachers Tony Lindstedt, guitar, and Dan Potter on drums, are creating a buzz in the local area with their mixture of classic hits interspersed with current chart numbers.
The pupils, aged nine, ten and 11 are nearly 40-years younger than band leader and school music co-ordinator Tony, 48.
But they more than hold their own performing hits such as Cameo’s 80s classic ‘Word Up’ through to ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas ‘I Gotta Feeling’.
Tony hopes to take the band ‘out on the road’ to perform at local venues, such has been the reaction from staff, pupils, parents and friends to their performances.
The youngsters on vocals, keyboards, saxophones and percussion were part of an hour and a half long set for parents and friends at a matinee and evening performance at the Sunderland school.
“I try to use songs mostly from their era because that’s the songs they are most passionate about, but mixing them with classics to appeal to a wider audience,” said Tony.
“I want the pupils to be able to leave school with the option of having a career in music or being able to play for pleasure, that’s how I started by picking up a guitar which has mapped out my life ever since.”
Tony is a well known musician on the regional pub and club scene and has passed on his years of stagecraft and instrumental skills to the youngsters.
Pupil Peter Rankin said: “I love the rock band because it’s so much fun every week and it’s made me more confident.”
And fellow band member Gabrielle Geraldie said: “I’ve learned how to play the keyboard since joining the band. Mr Lindstedt has encouraged me to be more confident which has helped me to sing a solo.”
Headteacer Julie Cort said: “I think Tony and Dan are inspirational for our children. They offer a dimension to musical experience and instruction that we’ve never been able to offer pupils before.
“It also allows children to showcase their talents and self-taught skills they’ve learned outside of school through You Tube and digital learning.
“The enthusiasm and parent support for the band has been huge – parents have said how much confidence they’ve seen their children acquire by learning instruments and getting up on stage.
“We’ve got children performing and singing who have progressed from a starting point of a lack of confidence and low self-esteem and we’ve seen a major turnaround in their self confidence as well as instrumental and singing skills.”
All the money raised from ticket sales to the events will be put towards buying musical instruments for the group who are currently hiring and borrowing the instruments they use on stage.