City Lit Blog

Q&A with City Lit music student Jonathan Sedgwick

Story added 17th Mar 2020


We recently caught up with City Lit music student Jonathan Sedgwick (on the right with his band above) to talk about studying music at City Lit and his musical experiences outside the College.

What inspired you to sign up for music courses at City Lit?

At the age of 55, I was able to go part-time at work and, having never previously studied music in any formal way, I enrolled on a one-day per week, one-year Music Foundation course with City Lit. This snowballed into four years of courses culminating in me achieving ABRSM Grade 5 music theory and obtaining an externally accredited Access to Higher Education Music Diploma in 2015.  The brilliant tutors, including Sally Martin-Brown, Sarha Moore, Malcom Miller and Trish Shaw, gave me an excellent grounding in music theory, history and composition as well as developing my practical performance and ensemble skills. Sally ran a choir, which included students from several courses and, despite having not attempted to sing for many years, I found this exciting and challenging. I also taught myself the electric bass during this period and now play in an occasional rock and pop covers band for charity events - “the Taxable Prophets", reflecting the mix of accountants and lawyers in the band!

How did studying music at City Lit influence your musical life?

My City Lit experience has given me the knowledge and confidence to develop my musical life in my ‘60s in ways that I could never have dreamed of...Since 2015, I have continued to immerse myself in music, taking many courses at City Lit including performing World Music (I now play regularly in a world music collective - which meets and plays just for fun), on sound design and on mixing and live sound. I now assist with sound engineering at the Union Chapel on their wonderful Saturday lunchtime “Daylight Music” sessions as well as managing the Taxable Prophets live sound.

What are you currently working on?

My biggest musical commitment has been to Vox Holloway. This is an inspirational charitable community choir based in North London which performs a wide range of music, including pieces written or arranged specifically for the choir by its founders Harvey Brough and Justin Butcher.  These are focused on issues such as mental health, climate change and modern slavery, but we also sing joyous music including the full Sargent Pepper album and, in collaboration with Ray Davies, classic Kinks albums.  I joined the choir in 2016, inspired by my singing experience at City Lit, and found that my first experience of singing with 100+ other voices was on the main stage at the Barbican!  Since then I have become involved with the running of the charity and am now a Trustee and the Treasurer.  

Any exciting performances or events coming up?  

On Sunday 29 March, Vox is once again attempting to fill the Hackney Empire – as we did last year – to hear Freedom Song, the extraordinary story of the Fisk Jubilee singers, a group of emancipated slaves from Nashville Tennessee who took to the road in 1871 to raise funds for their university and introduced the world to the riches of plantation spirituals.  The Jubilee singers' mission was not only to build the first black University in the Southern States after emancipation but also to fight for the right of all African Americans to be educated.  Facing down racial abuse and physical hardship, they introduced the world to plantation spirituals, ‘songs of sorrow’ never before heard in public. They toured the USA and Europe, where, incredibly, they serenaded Queen Victoria and performed in concert halls and cathedrals across Britain. They remain beacons of the civil rights movement 150 years on. In Freedom Song, two local community choirs are joined by a professional band and soloists on a musical journey which celebrates the power of music to overcome oppression and bring people from all backgrounds together.

Since we last talked to Jonathan the developing Coronavirus situation means that it is likely that the Hackney Empire concert will have to be rescheduled for later in the year.   

More information in this short video or on the Vox Holloway website or on the Hackney Empire website.

You can also find Vox on Twitter and on Facebook.

Music Courses at City Lit

We offer a wide range of piano, singing and instrumental workshops from complete beginners to advanced standard, daytime, evening or weekend. We also offer music theory, music tech, history, choirs, orchestra and jazz ensembles. 
Browse our music courses here >>>