From education to employment

Global superstar Ed Sheeran performs with music students during surprise visit to The Sheffield College


Singer songwriter Ed Sheeran has performed with music students during a surprise visit to The Sheffield College in South Yorkshire.

The global superstar, who is one of the world’s bestselling musicians, met students, music lecturers and senior staff at Hillsborough Campus on Livesey Street.

Ed Sheeran arrived just as Lol Bailey, 19, was performing Shape of You in a workshop to develop students’ professional skills held in the college’s drama and music theatre.

The four time Grammy Award winner also took to the stage to perform Castle on the Hill and shared industry insights with students during a question and answer session.

Earlier in the day, he visited Red Tape Studios on Shoreham Street and spoke to young musicians completing the Tracks course run by Sheffield Music School.

The surprise visit was organised in partnership with Sheffield City Council and took place on 16th May 2024.

Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Ed Sheeran to the college.

“We are used to offering students access to some fantastic industry experts as part of our new Skills Guarantee – but this is on another level!

“It’s not every day that a global singer songwriter drops by to share their talent, knowledge and expertise with students to help them go further in their careers.”

Matthew Henley, Curriculum Manager for Music, The Sheffield College, added: “We are really proud of our diverse student community, some of whom have gone on to earn success as performers, DJs, composers, promoters and producers.

“It was an honour to meet Ed Sheeran. The students couldn’t believe it when he walked into the room and joined in with their rehearsal of his song. It was an inspirational experience that they will never forget.”

Ian Naylor, Head of Music Education, Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield has a rich musical heritage and is committed to developing homegrown talent and seeing our creative industries thrive.

“It’s been a pleasure to host Ed today and see first-hand his commitment to using his global platform to champion the importance of music education.  

“There is real alignment with our own ambitions here in Sheffield where, despite a challenging funding environment, our commitment to a future where music is at the heart of our plans for the city is unwavering, most notably the development of the £15 million Harmony Works project.

“Most importantly, Ed’s visit has been a brilliant experience for Sheffield music students and showcases what our wonderful city has to offer.”

Student Lol Bailey, 19, who was performing ‘Shape of You’ when Ed Sheeran walked onto the stage, is completing a Music Performance and Production Extended Diploma at the college.

“It really threw me off when Ed Sheeran walked on stage but it was brilliant,” said Lol, whose ambition is to make it big in the music industry.

Alongside studying, Lol is in a band called Shabbah and is doing paid gigs in Sheffield and London after developing a love for music during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Student Brad Lyne, 18, who is also completing a Music Performance and Production Extended Diploma, had the chance to rap with Ed Sheeran.

Brad, whose performance name is Cheatcodez, said: “It was so cool. He’s a global superstar and an absolute legend but he was a normal dude who gave us some great advice. It made me think if he can achieve success, we can too.”

Music student Wisdom Ohue, 19, who performs by the name Wisdom-Wizzystar, added: I was really shocked when he walked on stage. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Wisdom added: “My experience at the college has been great. My confidence and performance skills have got way better.”

Equipped with the latest industry standard music facilities, the college has a strong reputation for training the next generation of musical talent.

A range of music qualifications are offered by the college ranging from diplomas through to degrees.

It also launched its own record label FiveBySeven, a nod to Sheffield’s five rivers and seven hills, to support upcoming student talent.

The college’s Hillsborough Campus has a professional recording studio, production rooms, rehearsal rooms, and a range of performance spaces.

Students develop their career skills on a wide range of equipment including guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, DJ decks, mics and PA systems.

Students also access music production programmes from Logic to Ableton ensuring they stay up-to-date on the latest cutting edge equipment.

The college has launched a new Skills Guarantee to ensure that its study programmes for young people enable them to be career ready.

The guarantee outlines the support that students aged 16 to 19 completing full-time study programmes can expect when they sign up for education and training.

Pictured: Ed Sheeran performs ‘Shape of You’ with music student Lol Bailey, 19, during a visit to The Sheffield College.

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