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Music teacher who discovered Ed Sheeran gives workshop to aspiring performers

PUBLISHED: 16:52 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 07 February 2020

Students from Suffolk One Sixth Form College in Ipswich, Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds and Thomas Mills High School in Kesgrave attended the workshop led by Ian Johnson, the music teacher who 'discovered' Ed Sheeran. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Students from Suffolk One Sixth Form College in Ipswich, Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds and Thomas Mills High School in Kesgrave attended the workshop led by Ian Johnson, the music teacher who 'discovered' Ed Sheeran. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

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Teenagers in Ipswich with a passion for music had the privilege to work with the man who discovered Ed Sheeran in an exclusive workshop.

Students getting advice about their music from Access to Music alumni. Picture: EMMA LEAStudents getting advice about their music from Access to Music alumni. Picture: EMMA LEA

Suffolk One Sixth Form College hosted the day-long activity and invited students from their own college, as well as Abbey Gate and Thomas Mills sixth forms to perform in front of music professionals.

Ian Johnson works for Access to Music and is credited with some of the Suffolk pop star's success, as the music teacher who worked with Ed at just 16 years old.

Talking about the workshop he said: "The idea was to work with a small group of young people who can all perform in front of a select group of alumni, many of whom have worked with Ed, and they then get feedback and advice."

To start the day, students were taken around the Sheeran exhibition in the Christchurch Mansion by Ed's dad, John, which gave them the amazing chance hear his life story.

Student at Suffolk One Sixth Form College, Freya Brooks, sings and plays the ukelele. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILStudent at Suffolk One Sixth Form College, Freya Brooks, sings and plays the ukelele. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

16-year-old student from Suffolk One, Freya Brooks, said: "We learnt about what he's done to get where he is today, the steps he took from childhood to where he is now.

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"The volume of success he had was insane, but also inspiring because it showed you how and ideas of what you could do next."

Abbey Gate student, Ella O'Grady, said that Ed's story had motivated her to keep going and said that working with the alumni had given her self confidence.

Students looking through the Ed Sheeran exhIbition in the Christchurch Mansion. Picture: EMMA LEAStudents looking through the Ed Sheeran exhIbition in the Christchurch Mansion. Picture: EMMA LEA

The 16-year-old said: "Even if you feel you're not going anywhere you need to believe in yourself.

"If you put in the effort and hard work you'll get there, you just need to keep going to the gigs even if there's only eight people there - one of them might be important."

The students all performed their own songs and music in front of the specialists and then had one to one feedback, along with precious tips of the trade.

Emma Connolly, head of curriculum at Suffolk One, had been working for months to organise the special day, saying: "For these kids, it's an opportunity to work with someone who has worked with Ed Sheeran and to get one to one feedback - it's a glimpse of how real it actually can be.

"For so many of them it's made it feel like a real possibility."

Ian has maintained that Ed's success is down to his strong work ethic and ability to get on with anyone, adding: "Whether we get another Ed, I don't know? There's probably one in a lifetime."

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