Nick Wright, Music Development Leader for OCMS, explains how Reins encourages young, local people to showcase their music

Young musicians from all over Oxfordshire will come together to present Reins – a showcase of young bands, artists and performers performing original music brought together by Oxfordshire County Music Service – at Pegasus Theatre on Saturday, January 23.

Beginning in 2011, Reins nights have featured rock bands, pop vocal groups, singer-songwriters, rappers, DJs and even spoken word artists, but all the acts have been in the early stages of their career as performers. Many of the young people who have performed have faced some challenging circumstances in their lives and Reins has given them the chance to express themselves, grow in confidence, and find their voice.

For some, Reins has given them their first opportunity to step on stage and play their music to an audience. Some, as they’ve grown in experience and confidence, have become regular performers on the Oxfordshire music scene.

Most of the gigs have sold out, audiences have been friendly and receptive, acts are supportive of each other, and staff from the different organisations have learnt from each other.

Through the confidence they have gained from these gigs and their developing musicianship, our young musicians have been able to perform and compose with increasing maturity, and their self-esteem, confidence, and ability to interact socially, has been greatly improved. Some have gone on to study music at college; one group formed a band that won their school’s ‘Got Talent’ competition; some now work as mentors to other pupils.

Three pupils from a project run by the County Music Service at The Oxford Academy performed at the world premiere of Lightbobs by Dr. John Traill, alongside over 100 primary school musicians and the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra – in the stunning surroundings of Birmingham Symphony Hall.

This January’s Reins will again feature the whole wide range of popular music, from rock to rap and pop to punk, featuring young people stepping on the stage for the first time. or