Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde leads pioneering degree course to inspire next generation of Sunderland musicians

Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde is leading a revolutionary new music degree at the city’s university to help budding vocalists, musicians and producers get their break in the music industry.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 2:30 pm

As part of the Modern Music Industries degree, students will be able to play live at a new purpose built £11m, 800 seat auditorium which makes up part of the new Fire Station Arts Centre where the main lecture theatre, live theatre, bar and restaurant is also located.

Barry said: “It has taken around five years to develop the coursework, partnership and also the venues and facilities to start teaching this academic year.

“We are really lucky to have brought in some extremely talented industry professionals and educators, who are passionate about mentoring aspiring music makers. Using our experiential knowledge, we aim to give high-quality, relevant guidance to maximise the individual progress of students.

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Dan Donnelly and Barry Hyde from the Northern Academy of Music Education at the new Birdland Studios. Picture: DAVID WOOD

“We are highly experienced professionals and can give objective direction based on our collective industry expertise, which we hope will inspire our students to be dedicated, ambitious and proactive in their endeavours.

"Huge motivation is required to become a professional musician and we know exactly what it takes.”

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As part of the development, the Grade II listed former pub, The Peacock, has been converted into a 220 capacity music venue as well as Birdland Studios, a new recording and rehearing facility.

Futureheads front-man Barry Hyde and Dan Donnelly from the Northern Academy of Music Education outside the Fire Station which will be home to the course's lecture theatre and auditorium. Picture: DAVID WOOD

Barry added: “The course not only encourages live performance and traditional music skills but also event management. This is a crucial diversification point that can further allow our students to develop and thrive in the modern music industry.

“The 21st century music maker has creative opportunities that simply weren’t accessible until recently and our course will provide the academic framework to develop the essential skills that maximise individual potential."

Despite the arts having been amongst the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic, Barry believes now is the right time for the launch of the pioneering degree.

The Sunderland born musician said: “Art is such a crucial aspect of our society and clearly by the current reinstated vibrancy, we can see that people are hungrier than ever to experience it.

Barry Hyde and Dan Donnelly at the site of the The Peacock pub which has now been converted into a recording studio and 220 capacity music venue. Picture: DAVID WOOD

"Our course is perfect for the modern climate, which requires innovative people to bring fresh ideas and ambition forward to further develop the delivery of high quality art.”

With 30 students already enrolled, the course is being run collaboratively between the University of Sunderland and Northern Academy of Music Education (NAME), which also includes Barry’s business partner, Dan Donnelly, who has performed with The Wonder Stuff, The Levellers and Celtic Social Club.

Barry said: “We’ve been extremely fortunate to find a fantastic partnership with University of Sunderland, who’ve been providing world class education on Wearside for many years.”

“We look forward to doing justice to this amazing opportunity and hope to enjoy a long and productive relationship.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Academic Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, added: “Students will not only have a wide range of resources and a professional environment to really excel in, as well as being based in the heart of the cultural centre of Sunderland, but they will also be taught by a range of professional musicians and with Barry and Dan both experienced and inspirational musicians as well as music educators.

“This is a unique and exciting new venture.”

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