Neavan Lobban

Are you thinking about joining a choir, music group or other arts activity? Sometimes the most difficult thing can be knowing where to start. Neavan Lobban tells us more about how he began his own musical journey.

Hi there, I’m Neavan. I’m a budding Jazz Musician based in the Glasgow area, but born and raised in Inverness.

My earliest experiences of music came to me through school. School choirs, though seen as ‘uncool’, were always something I was part of. Though the Voice is not something I’ve had long term lessons on, it still remain my earliest (and of course the most natural) connection to music. The first instrument I began to learn seriously was the piano, which I started at around age 12. While I may not be the best pianist you’ll ever meet, it’s still something I love playing. In my first year of high school, I was presented with the instrument I’d wanted to learn for years: the saxophone. As a pupil at Millburn Academy, I was given weekly lessons through the Highland Council’s instrumental tuition service. The saxophone quickly became my first study instrument. Through this, I was able to gain membership of local, regional and national music ensembles.

Today, I have connections with both the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) and the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS). Both groups consist of musicians from all across the country. While still in primary school I had my first contact with NYCoS, joining the Inverness area choir a short while after its creation. This allowed me to climb the NYCoS pyramid, joining the National Boys Choir and, just this year, the NYCoS Training Choir. Next year I hope to reach the top of the pyramid and successfully audition for the National Youth Choir of Scotland itself. Through membership of Boys Choir and Training Choir, I have had opportunities to perform in places including Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, Perth and a tour to Belfast. My connections with NYOS are much fresher, attending my first course in 2014. My involvement is limited to the Jazz wing of NYOS, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. I’ve attended the Summer School, hosted in Skye, for the last two years, and this year will be auditioning for the flagship NYOS Jazz Orchestra.

Earlier this year I accepted a place at the Music School of Douglas Academy, one of Scotland’s Centres of Excellence in Music. As the school is based in Milngavie, which is some distance from Inverness, I board weekdays in the schools new purpose-built residence in the West End of Glasgow. I’m actively involved in the schools many bands and choirs: Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, Boys Choir, First Orchestra (where I play the mighty bass clarinet), Wind Band, Samba Band, Jazz Band and Saxophone trio/quartet. Within just one term, I have already preformed to former First Minister Alex Salmond in the Scottish Parliament and travelled down to London to perform in a concert in conjunction with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK. The school organises a number of concerts throughout the year, including Variety Concert, Christmas Concert, Composition Concert (consisting of music written exclusively by Music School students) and Annual Recital. There are also weekly recitals every Friday lunchtime. All of this organisation falls on the shoulders of the Music School Course Director Mark Evans, who also happens to be a conductor with NYCoS. I am given weekly hour lessons from the music school’s saxophone and clarinet teacher Lawrence Gill, who also plays clarinet with Scottish Opera. I also get half hour lessons on piano.

On top of all this, I am also one of Highland Council’s representatives on the Highland Youth Arts Hub Forum. Despite spending most of my time out of the Highlands, I am still very keen to help the Hub with its mission. I attended the Hub’s first residential in Aviemore where, as well as helping shape the direction of the Hub, helped film introductory videos to the hub and took part in team building activities (which were quite physical, so not my strongest moment). In the future, I’m hoping to be accepted to the Bachelor of Music in Jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. After that, I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do. I know I want a career in Music. I also have an interest in conducting which opens the door to more opportunities, but my future is still very much a foggy path. While I’m not entirely sure where it is I’m going in life, I can’t wait to find out what’s waiting for me around the next corner.


Update January 2016 – 

Since writing this article, Neavan has successfully been offered a place in the flagship NYCoS choir.  Huge congratulations Jazzman!!’


You can find more information on NYCoS and NYOS here:

If national groups are a step too far, why not check out the Highland Young Musicians website, which highlights more possible options at regional level: