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Saxophone success story

Amanda Barton

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Saxophone Music Chapel-en-le-Frith High School Daniel Poole

Daniel Poole

“When I play music it’s like nothing else matters,” says 17 year-old Daniel Poole. And his dreams of a a life in music are now one step further on. 

Saxophonist Daniel was the first pupil from Chapel-en-le-Frith High School to win a scholarship to the sixth-form of Chetham’s School of Music, one of the world’s most prestigious music schools. And he’s now been offered places at the country’s two top conservatoires: the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and the Royal College of Music in London.

“I began playing the saxophone when I was 12 or 13”, says Daniel. “I started playing clarinet when I was nine through the Derbyshire Music Partnership and then my teacher in school suggested the sax. Playing with the Dark Peak Music Trust orchestras really brought me on. It was one of my friends from the Trust, Poppy, who was my first inspiration. She won a place at the Royal Northern and I remember thinking ‘Wow, you can make a career out of music.’ But I never thought I’d get a place there too.”

Daniel won one of only three places for saxophonists, offered internationally, at Chetham’s. The renowned music school in Manchester was founded as a charity school in 1653 and is the largest specialist music school in the UK. While students study the full range of academic subjects, the main emphasis is on music. 

“It’s not like a normal school”, explains Daniel who, like most students, boards at the school. “We have a long day, from 8.30 until 4.30, and are then expected to practise in the evenings; I practise for around two to three hours each day. On Saturdays there are music rehearsals from 9-1. If you didn’t like music you wouldn’t go there!”

“Every now and again we stop academic lessons for a week or two to do a ‘music course’ to prepare for a concert. At the moment we’re in rehearsal for ‘Bolero’. We all have to learn piano and I’ve taken up the clarinet again and am also learning flute.”

But it is the saxophone which holds the most appeal for Daniel: “Sax has such a pure sound when it’s played classically. To play a saxophone well is to play it quietly. I love the versatility of sax – you can do pop, rock and classical.”

Parents and teachers are understandably proud. Andrea Wright, joint Head of Music at Chapel High School, says: “Daniel possesses an innate sense of musicianship. As his ex-teachers, we are delighted with his success and look forward to following his future career!"

Competition for places at the Royal Northern and the Royal College is extremely tough. Both colleges are world-leading and attract high numbers of international students so Daniel was delighted to be invited to audition at both. When the Royal College assessed him at Chetham’s he was awarded the highest mark in the history of the school and now hopes to take up the offer of a place at the College in September. 

In the meantime Daniel is hoping to raise funds for the four-year course in London by organising concerts and playing at events for donations. If you would like to sponsor him, or can offer an opportunity to play, please contact