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Chance to live those dreams

Head for the Music Live exhibition in Birmingham next week for the opportunity to spend a day leading the band. Hugh John reports

It's back, with more stands than you could shake a drumstick at, with mullet-haired, denim-shirt-bursting guitarists playing impassioned air guitar (that'll be the teachers) and beleaguered sales staff being hassled for free plectrums by gangs of young lads (that'll be the students).

Yes, Music Live, the UK's largest music-making and education exhibition, returns to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, for a three-day jamboree next week (November 4-6).

There's a huge range of equipment for visitors to get their hands on, from Fender electric and acoustic guitars through Yamaha brass and woodwind instruments to the latest Casio keyboards and Roland digital recording gear. Essentially a showcase for the rock electric music industry, it is not just about selling - some unique learning opportunities are featured.

The venue hosts two seminar halls, a drum clinic and a live stage, and will feature tuition, workshops and equipment demonstrations.

This year, for instance, sees the debut of Guildford's acclaimed Academy of Contemporary Music which has taken over a seminar suite for the whole weekend and will be offering tutorials covering everything from recording techniques to guitar tuition.

Friday is Education Day and special ticket deals are available for schools, colleges and other educational establishments. As well as saving on the ticket price, there are other attractions. The Academy of Music and Sound is offering free guitar lessons, and Shaun Baxter, respected guitar tutor and author, will be on the stand. Yamaha will also be hosting "So you want to be in a Band". The Yamaha house band will work through contemporary pop arrangements and perform a live set. In previous years, members of the audience have been invited on stage to perform with the band.

Casio will run 10 15-minute music lessons during Education Day, each catering for a group of up to five pupils. Attendees will also have the opportunity to win a Casio Privia digital piano for their school.

In addition to sponsoring the "Passport to Music Making" education conference, Access to Music (ATM) one of the leading providers of popular music training courses, will be presenting three stages of live music.

Among the many courses that students and teachers can check out are Performing Musician, Music Producer and Music Entrepreneur. And if you're confident enough, ATM has an open mike area for impromptu performances at Busker's Corner.

Live attractions on Friday include the Suffrajets and This Is Menace which promises to be a full-on metal experience.

Music Live is a fun day out and an opportunity for young and old to live out their dreams. And don't forget that seeing a band live on stage, picking up a well made guitar or fiddling with the knobs and faders of a mixing unit can be every bit as motivational as a formal music lesson.

Finally, a word of advice: that bloke on stage, eyes closed, legs askance, belting out the intro to Stairway to Heaven? Give him a big hand. He could be your next head of department.

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