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The Cobra Club

This project was filmed by York-based One and Other TV

Internationally renowned saxophonist Snake Davis teamed up with four recent graduates from Leeds College of Music to run a music project with York secondary schools in autumn 2013.

Spear-headed by Sue Williamson, Head of Music at Burnholme Community College in York, 50 young people spent three months preparing to become Snake's band for a special concert held on Saturday 26th November at the NCEM.

The newly formed student band, known at The Cobra Club worked alongside Snake and music graduates Declan Forde (piano), Will Howard (sax), Angus Milne (guitar) and Matt Parkinson (drums) composing new songs, learning jazz standards and some of Snake's own material. The musicians were also joined by a group of dancers.

The students involved were from Burnholme Community College, which is due to close in July 2013, and also from Joseph Rowntree and Huntington Schools, which is where most of the Burnholme pupils will migrate to next September. The project was an excellent way of linking the schools musically.

Performing at the NCEM was a real highlight of the project, the students performed to a packed house of family and friends and were a credit to their schools. They rose to the challenge, supported and encouraged each other, learn stage skills, were given the confidence to solo and talk about work they had written themselves, experienced the excitement of performing and seeing the appreciation of the audience.

Four students - Jodie Wortley, Robyn Agar, Devon Pagett, Charlie Haw and Eleanor Whitely were also given the opportunity to guest with Snake Davis and his Band in a sell out concert that took place that same evening - they joined a jazz standard and Snake composed piece and received a standing ovation.

Sue Williamson commented: "This project was a brilliant opportunity for the pupils. Working with a world-class musician raised the ceiling of achievement by showing the young people involved what was possible, and inspiring them to produce their best work. All involved gained enormously, and there were tangible improvements in general confidence and self-esteem, as well as excellent musical progress."
Snake Davis added: 'Working on this project was thrilling and inspiring. A really feisty 'up-for-it' bunch, full of characters, never a dull moment. The performance at The NCEM surpassed all our expectations, brilliant. My partners in the project, Sue Williamson, Melanie Paris and the Leeds College guys guys Declan, Will, Angus and Matt were a joy to work with. Happy Days!"