Talented Ben makes the grade

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A YOUNG musician is proving to be years ahead of his game after passing Grade 6 with distinction in the saxaphone.

Ben Hartick, of Horsecroft Road, Bury St Edmunds, won success at the age of 10 – some seven years ahead of the normal age to achieve the grade.

Now 11, the pupil at St Louis Middle School became interested in the instrument when he was three after watching a family friend play.

Tutor Phil Marshall, from Icklingham, said that in 20 years of teaching, Ben was by far the most advanced student for his age.

He said he had reservations at taking Ben on at the age of eight but added: “I could see he was naturally gifted and he flew from a young age.”

Ben is a member of the West Suffolk Youth Big Band and his school orchestra. He began learning on a normal sized sax, although he had to adjust his fingering to cope initially.

Phil, who has taught in schools, says the normal age to take up the instrument is around 10.

Depending on how Ben progresses he could have taken his Ggrade 8 before he goes to upper school, said Mr Marshall.

“If he has done that, he will have done very well,” he addded.

Ben’s mum Stephanie said: ”He’s well balanced and likes Scouts, hockey and cycling. He is very committed and very enthusiastic about what he does.”