Primary school teacher learns trombone for Cambridge charities

PUBLISHED: 13:02 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:02 08 September 2017

Elizabeth Street

Elizabeth Street


Primary school teacher Elizabeth Street has spent her summer break learning to play a trombone to raise money for three charities.

Elizabeth, 46, from Swavesey, is one of hundreds of musicians taking part in The Oxford and Cambridge Note Race, with individuals in both cities competing to learn an instrument of their choice and pass the Grade 1 exam in just nine weeks.

The Cambridge and Oxford teams are competing for the honour of the highest average sponsorship and highest average exam mark. The event reaches its crescendo on Sunday (September 10) when the musicians sit their exam during the day and hold simultaneous concerts in the two cities in the evening. The concert in Cambridge during which more than 120 people will perform is to be held at the West Road Concert Hall.

A teacher at Over Primary School, Elizabeth also runs the school orchestra and choir, and is raising money for Blue Smile, a charity dedicated to helping emotionally-troubled youngsters.

“I learnt to play a number of instruments when I was growing up including the piano, flute, saxophone and guitar,” she said. “But learning to play a brass instrument is completely new to me and the trombone is the ultimate challenge. I’ve borrowed the trombone from a friend and named it Norbert. “Now Norbert and I are working in partnership on this new adventure.”

She continued: “I’d heard about The Oxford and Cambridge Note Race before and decided to join in this year as it’s the perfect way to raise money to make the world a better place for children.

“The Chief Executive of Blue Smile gave a presentation at our school a while ago so I know what a difference the money I raise will make to the charity’s important work helping emotionally vulnerable children. Everyone in the Cambridge Note Race team is supporting the same charities, which also includes local Home-Start and The Alf Dubs Children’s fund. Between us we aim to make a big impact.

“Having only nine weeks to learn to play the trombone from scratch and reach Grade 1 standard is tough, even for me as a musician. Everyone taking part has been allowed one group lesson for their chosen instrument and the group sessions took place on the July 9 - since then we’ve been on our own. We all sit our Grade 1 on the September 10 and finish with a concert in our respective cities that evening, playing specially-commissioned pieces for the occasion.

“Learning to play the trombone is a fantastic experience but has its challenges. I started off making rapid progress but then plateaued and found it hard to move forward.”

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Blue Smile, said: “We are hugely grateful to Elizabeth and all the Cambridge Note Race team for their amazing fundraising efforts for Blue Smile. We wish them all great success with their Grade 1 exams and finale concert at the West Road Concert Hall.

“Blue Smile is dedicated to providing expert arts-based therapy and mentoring in Cambridgeshire schools to help emotionally troubled youngsters between the ages of 3 to 13. There are thousands of children in the county struggling to cope with the impact of family breakdown, bullying, bereavement, domestic violence and far more. As statutory services are limited, the demand for our help is increasing all the time.

“Every £1 raised for Blue Smile by Elizabeth and fellow Cambridge Note Race musicians will go towards the charity’s vital work to help children thrive, learn and live happier lives.”

The final concert will be held at West Road Concert Hall on Sunday. The concert starts at 7pm.

Tickets are priced at £8 for adults and £4 for children and are available through ADC Ticketing by calling 01223 30085 or online at

For more information about The Oxford and Cambridge Note Race go to

To donate to Elizabeth, visit

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