Were you a member of the music centres or county groups? We want to know your memories of your time with West Sussex Music and what you are doing now. Do you have any photos of your time on tour or performing in concerts? We would love to hear from you.


Gideon Brooks - Trumpet

Gideon Brooks began Trumpet lessons at the age of 8 and has never looked back. After joining the ensembles at the Chichester Music Centre, Gideon developed his skills which enabled him to join the West Sussex County Ensembles including the West Sussex County Youth Big Band at the age of 14.

Since leaving West Sussex Music, Gideon has continued his studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in which he is currently preparing for his final examinations. Within his time at the College Gideon has progressed to become Principal Trumpet in all of the college’s ensembles as well as honing his performing skills outside of his studies.

Among his many performance opportunities with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English National Ballet and the Welsh National Opera, Gideon has recently performed at the Royal Albert Hall with the Sinfonia Cymru for Bryn Terfel’s 50th celebrations. This performance included artists such as Sting, Alison Balsom and Michael Sheen and was televised on Sky Arts.

Gideon speaks very fondly of his time with West Sussex Music, in particular his memories of performances from the Prague tour 2011.

“There are too many memorable experiences with West Sussex Music. I would say that the Prague tour had a lot of stories but an entertaining story from it occurred in a concert. We had performed our whole programme in a church with the audience wanting an encore. The brass and percussion were in high spirits having performed West Side Story and Danzon No.2. The encore, the Radetzky March, and both the Brass and Percussion (with ensemble leader David Bennet’s permission) thought it would be fun to play the end a little quicker. The woodwind and strings were unaware of the change of tempo; they must have thought “Help! What is happening?”

Alongside all of the fun on tour and within performances, Gideon also talks about what benefit he had from being a member of West Sussex Music.

“Being a part of the Music Service and attending rehearsals regularly with like-minded people was a great experience…playing alongside the great players within the County ensembles was a big learning curve. It helped me develop as a player to reach the standard I needed to get me into Music College…and then to earn a living from it. West Sussex Music County Courses and Tours were great moments from my school and college years. I thoroughly recommend it for fun and for developing your musicality and ensemble skils.”

And finally, a few words of wisdom from Gideon for all of our aspiring musicians;

“If you want to be a musician, work hard! Enjoy your music making!”

Gideon has recently secured a scholarship to continue his studies with a post-graduate course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London beginning in September 2016. 


Jack McDougal - Saxophone - BA Hons

Jack McDougal began Saxophone lessons at the age of 8 years old, joining West Sussex Music at the age of 11 when he began attending The Forest School in Horsham. His love of music led him to become a member of both the Horsham Youth and County Youth Ensembles.

Since leaving West Sussex Music in 2011 Jack has completed a BA Joint Honours degree in Maths and Music at Cardiff University, graduating in 2014. Since graduating Jack has become a regular performer in the Cardiff area, as well as performing and recording with organisations such as the BBC.

With an extensive performance catalogue; here are just a few of his most memorable experiences whilst studying his degree.

  • Performing Verdi’s Requiem with the Cardiff University Symphony Chorus
  • Performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2014 with the Cardiff University Big Band
  • Recording the saxophone parts for BBC’s ‘The One Show’ for their 2015 Xmas virtual choir
  • Playing solo saxophone for Benjamin Britten’s Symphonia da Requiem with the Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra in October 2014
  • Performing a 12 hour long recital with 'Oblique 3,' an Atonal Improvisational Contemporary Music group comprised of current and past Cardiff University alumni
  • Hosting a night celebrating Chicago and New Orleans Blues music in March 2014, which I organised and ran myself as a passion project

 Listed below are just a few of the bands that Jack is a member of, be sure to check out their music via the links below.

 As well as being an established performer, Jack is also using his musical talents by inspiring young musicians through teaching both privately and with the Cardiff and Vale Music Service.

Jack speaks very fondly of his time learning with West Sussex Music, talking about how his experiences helped shape his career.

"I wouldn’t be the player and teacher I am today if it wasn’t for some of the fundamental and basic principles installed into me during my time with West Sussex Music."

"My time with the County Youth Ensembles gave me the opportunity to rehearse, practise and perform music as both a soloist and ensemble member. It introduced to me new genres and styles of music and how different instruments can work together to produce a cohesive sound. The concert bands performed a huge array of music, from recent popular tunes to more classical and contemporary compositions. The few times I performed with the Orchestra just showed how well a disciplined and organised group of musicians can perform complex pieces of music."

Throughout his time at West Sussex Music, there were many performance opportunities that enabled Jack to develop his playing technique and confidence.

"One of my all time memorable pieces I’ve rehearsed and performed must be Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No.2, in which I was fortunate enough to play with the County Youth Orchestra.  My favourite ensemble, however, was always the Big Band, which showed how well freedom of interpretation and individuality in players, though contrasted to the Orchestra’s ethos, could still provide strong results in a performance.  The repertoire that was introduced always challenged and pushed us to our limits, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. It was also where I developed the most as a soloist, with many opportunities to practise and develop my improvisation technique in rehearsals and performances."

In true teacher style, Jack is always looking to inspire the next generation of musicians. Here is his advice for all music students.

"Enjoy playing what you like and be yourself! Don’t judge yourself by other people’s ability, be they better or worse than you.  Music is meant to be an enjoyable and entertaining form of art for both listeners and players of all abilities.  Choose for yourself what your favourite style of music is.  There is no such thing as a musician who cannot learn something new so don’t worry! If there’s something you can’t do yet, be patient!  With practise you’ll get there!  It’ll certainly be worth it in the end."

And finally, a note to just some of the teachers that have helped and inspired Jack on his musical journey.

"I would like to thank all the members of West Sussex Music who have helped me along the way. In particular, I would like to thank Rodney Smith, Paul Satchwell, Jason Mathias and Adam Barker, all of whom I learnt a great deal of things, both musically and otherwise."

Alongside his performance and teaching, Jack is also preparing to start a Master’s Degree of Jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in September 2016. 






Ali Unsted  
Business Manager
01798 345325