Lancaster pupil gets place at prestigious music school

Dominic Downs with his dog.
Dominic Downs with his dog.

Twelve-year-old Dominic Downs is celebrating after gaining a place at one of the most prestigious music schools in the North West.

The Ripley St Thomas pupil couldn’t believe the news when he received the acceptance letter from Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Dominic, who is a Lancaster Priory chorister, started asking for piano lessons when he was just three-years-old.

He said: “I was over the moon really, I never expected to get in because I had a break from piano lessons for quite a while.

“Now I have to really start to work hard.”

Dominic has been interested in music from an early age and grew up watching his sister play the cornet – but the brother of seven did have a bumpy start.

Mum Carolyn said: “When Dominic was a baby he couldn’t hear, severe glue ear and enormous tonsils left him needing an operation, which took place when he was two-years-old.

“As soon as he could hear he started to sing any tune he heard, and to play what he called ‘fairy music,’ on the battered old pub piano we had in the dining room.”

When Dominic was six-years-old he watched the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at Preston Guildhall – he was besotted and never stopped asking for piano lessons.

His lessons through St Patrick’s Primary School, in Morecambe, helped him bag awards at the Blackburn Festival of Speech and Music.

Mum Carolyn said: “He was so enthusiastic about piano and making such good progress that St Patrick’s helped him pay to attend Chetham’s Piano Summer School. This was an epiphany moment for Dominic, he was determined to attend a school where music was put first.”

Dominic saved his pocked money up each year from selling sweets at school and was soon able to pay for his attendance at the summer school himself.

After moving to Ripley St Thomas Dominic decided to audition for Chetham’s with the help of the school and now he is grateful his hard work has paid off.

The family is appealing for help towards Dominic’s fees for Chetham. If you would like to support Dominic then email c.downs@lancaster.ac.uk.