Gavin and Jack’s repertoires

Left to right: Gavin Summers, Steve Ballantyne and Jack Moody.
Left to right: Gavin Summers, Steve Ballantyne and Jack Moody.

Two Alnwick pupils are heading towards university-level guitar playing thanks to their tutor.

Gavin Summers and Jack Moody, both 16, are preparing to take diploma exams for their talents after being tutored by musician Steve Ballantyne.

It means that contemporary rock guitarist Gavin, who has been playing for five years, is at the same level as a first-year undergraduate student and Jack, who started aged nine and plays Spanish classical guitar, is on a par with third-year degree students.

Steve said: “It is remarkable that they are at this level at their age. It is so rare. There are a lot of tutors about and you very rarely hear about anybody taking it further than Grade 8.

“It is a huge achievement for these two lads.

“They are potentially world-class performers.

“It’s fun teaching two performance diplomas, and ones which are so diverse and totally opposite toeach other.

“I went through university myself in 2001 and have taught all styles of music ever since. Theory and practical, GCSE, and A-Level, guitar, drums, voice, but never had the opportunity to nurture such awesome young talent to such a high standard.

“They show all the potential of a BBC young musician of the year candidate, or the equivalent.”

Gavin has already achieved grades one to eight and will be sitting his performance diploma level four while Jack will take the level-six diploma.

Jack said: “I love playing because it brings out different emotions and it broadens my musical knowledge and perspective.”

Gavin added: “It is a good way to express yourself.

“I am so pleased to get to this level. I never thought anything would come of it.

“Steve is a really good teacher. When I came to him I wasn’t very good, but he believed in me. He knew what I wanted and what I needed to get better and here I am.”

Both boys have taken music GCSE and are going on to study music at A-Level next year.

Steve is also a peripatetic music teacher for Northumberland County Council, a singer/songwriter and producer of Lifehouse Records.

To find our more about Gain’s music visit his website

You can find out more about Steve at