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State-of-the-art road show

Want an alternative to formulaic saccharine muzak promotions such as Pop Idol? Want to see real musicians playing in real time and even making real mistakes, all in front of a young, seriously enthusiastic audience? You could do worse than get tickets for the next YamahaAlive road show. The result of a collaboration between Yamaha and Manchester rock band Alive, the show has visited schools and colleges throughout the UK.

Students get the opportunity to hear live music, check out the latest equipment and learn about the music industry.

At Linton Village College 10 miles east of Cambridge, it's a big day, organised by Yamaha in liaison with Chris Charlesworth, the college's director of music, and a committee of 22 Year 10 and 11 students. Posters, leaflets, badges and T-shirts have publicised the event. The students provide refreshments, direct visitors and assist in one of the four music rooms featuring a selection of drums, keyboards, guitars and recording gear.

One of the team, 15-year-old Krista Wright, plays alto sax and is planning a career in music. "Today is exceptional. This sort of thing never happens around here so we're very privileged to have all this."

Chris Charlesworth agrees. "The staff are very keen to support this type of event and the students will get a lot out of it." In his four years as music director at the college he has built up the department so that more than 250 instrumental lessons are now given each week and involve almost a third of the college's 800 students.

The open day visits to schools have generated tremendous interest. Brian Wise, head of music at Macmillan College, Middlesborough, believes that the day the road show rolled up, "will be remembered as the day that many of our 1,100 pupils made the decision to play a musical instrument".

Students wander into the music rooms, trying out equipment and asking advice from the specialists. Unlike many high street music shops, there's no hard sell, simply a shared enthusiasm between musicians.

Alive's afternoon gig and presentation in the college hall, all smoke, decibels, flashing lights and anthemic rock tunes, is excellent and rapturously received by more than 200 screaming students.

But there's a more serious side, too. Between numbers, Peter Ross, the group's manager, gives a lively, inspiring talk encompassing many aspects of the music industry. How to form a band, how to get gigs, how to promote the music. These guys did it, the message goes, so can you. And if you want to work in the business but don't have the musical skills, there are plenty of other opportunities. "It's not necessarily about ending up on Top of the Pops," says Peter, "They might want to become a music lawyer or journalist."

It's a winning combination; a real live rock and roll band, state-of-the-art equipment, and the chance to talk to professionals about the opportunities.

The next tour will start in September and include up to 20 education venues. To participate in one of the road shows, contact: Peter Ross, Project Manager, Yamaha-Alive, PO Box 114, Bury District Office BL9 8FG Tel: 0161 280 0908 Email:

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