“Music has truly changed Rhys’s life and given him hope. All I can say is thank you so much for helping my son find his smile.”

14 year old guitarist Rhys from Egham first applied for an AYM Award in 2021, having been playing for a little over a year. It had been a tough time for Rhys, as his Mum Alison describes:

“Rhys began his guitar learning in March 2020. At the time he was struggling to leave the house, he couldn’t sleep or eat and he had a significant mental health illness related to autism. However, we started to see a big improvement in Rhys’s confidence the more he learnt the guitar. He was able to leave the house to go to the shops and to lessons! But I was still concerned about how far music would be able to take him when he was unable to go to school, meet people and play live.

“Since he received his Award things have changed dramatically. He felt a huge sense of accomplishment and it boosted his confidence. He felt like someone believed in him – something he had not experienced at school.

The progress Rhys has made since he applied for an Award in 2021 is quite remarkable and he has shared his progression via his Instagram account which he and Alison work on together. He is attracting support and encouragement from his online community.

“He has an Instagram account that has grown to over 30,000 followers, has been invited to meet people, go to concerts, and try different equipment. He has even been invited to play live, which he did for the first time in March 2022 in his favourite guitar shop on London’s famous Denmark Street. Since then he has been invited to play with a local blues band and played solo at a restaurant in Guildford in May 2022.

Rhys attended an AYM Awards Day in July at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts:

‘My favourite thing was learning from other people’s experiences. I was nervous to start with, but I had a great time and really enjoyed it. It made me feel more confident about working in a group and it was great to meet other young musicians who are as excited by learning as I am!’

Rhys was recently invited backstage at a show to meet one of his heroes, blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. He couldn’t believe it when one of the band recognised Rhys from Instagram and told him they had been watching his videos together before the show!

“Music has truly changed Rhys’s life and given him hope. All I can say is thank you so much for helping my son find his smile.”

With support from our donors we’re here to help hundreds of young musicians like Rhys. Thank you! If you are, or if you know, a young musician like Rhys, aged 5-17, with bags of musical potential who needs support for musical costs, AYM could help!

Our charity is very excited to have been chosen for a BBC Radio 4 Appeal this month! On Sunday 21 August 2022, you’ll have the chance to hear saxophonist and AYM Patron and Alumna Jess Gillam MBE present our appeal and speak about the difference music makes to young people.

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