THOUSANDS of youngsters are showcasing their talents next week as part of a mammoth music festival.
Now in its fourth year Lewisham Live will kick off on March 5 with a three week programme of music, dance and song to be performed all over the borough by young people.
Goldsmiths in New Cross will host Live Winds on March 25 with wind and brass bands playing in the Great Hall.
On March 13 members of the London Symphony Orchestra will accompany 150 performers in a specially commissioned piece at the Blackheath Halls in Lee Road.
More than 1,500 participants from around 50 Lewisham schools and partner organisations are taking part in the festival.
Head of Lewisham music services Peter Hayward said: “There is a great deal of research to show that learning an instrument and learning to sing boosts pupils' social development, creativity and learning skills across a wide range of subject areas including literacy and numeracy and what's more, it's great fun.
“Performing in front of an audience inspires young people and it validates all the practice and hard work they need to do in order to excel.
“I believe engagement in music and dance is a life-changing experience for our young performers: for some it will lead to a career in the arts, for others love of the arts may be a lifelong leisure pursuit. We want to encourage both.”
The festival also reveals musical trends and how certain instruments are growing more popular.
“Ukulele has become very popular, especially in our primary schools.
“At the Lewisham Live Tune Up concert at Sedgehill on 21 March for example, there will be over 100 young ukulele players from four different schools.
“Live Percussion will also feature a range of instruments and musical styles from around the world including steel pans, djembe drums and samba.”
Mr Hayward’s favourite part of the festival is seeing the young people’s enjoyment.
He said: “ You can see the sense of achievement they feel in their faces.
“As educators we have a duty to provide young people with the best and to strive to support them in every way we possibly can.
“When we get that right, it's very satisfying to feel we've made a difference.”
For more information, visit lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/events/whats-on/Pages/Lewisham-Live.aspx