The talented teen talks about her love of the saxophone, the National Youth Theatre and how the music gene bypassed her parents
Charlotte Beesley is a girl of many talents. The gifted teenager could be the subject of this feature for a number of her achievements to date. For instance, she is the first girl in the UK to attain a university level ATCL diploma in saxophone while still at school – but why stop there? She is a talented pianist, accomplished singer, composer and actress of National Youth Theatre calibre. Currently swotting for her A-Levels at Solihull School you might expect Charlotte to go on to study drama or music at degree level, but no. Charlotte also has her head screwed firmly on. “I’d like to get my first choice which is History at Exeter and then do a post grad at drama school hopefully. I thought I’d better get a sensible degree and then pursue the drama side of things,” she said.
Although saxophone is her first love, Charlotte started playing piano aged five and has achieved Grade 8. She began singing lessons at eight and has achieved Grade 6 in musical theatre. She didn’t pick up the saxophone until she was 10. Charlotte was the only pupil at junior school playing the instrument and when she moved to Solihull School in Year 8 she thought the same would be the case. “I thought I’d be a bit cool playing something that not many other people did, then I got there and everyone was doing it! It’s definitely a little bubble. We have some really good groups and I’ve made some great friends.” Charlotte is a member of the school’s saxophony and senior wind bands and is director of the junior saxophone ensemble. “I prefer performing in a group rather than solo, it’s more fun,” she explained. I wonder if Charlotte’s parents are musical and set her on this path, but she says not. “My grandparents were musical. One was a concert pianist and another sang at the Birmingham Oratory, but the music gene skipped my parents,” she said with a chuckle.
Charlotte feels as comfortable acting on the stage as she does playing music on it, excelling in lead roles in the school’s productions of Macbeth and Phantom of the Opera. Early last year her mother handed her the National Youth Theatre (NYT) application pack and encouraged her to audition. NYT alumni include huge stars such as Dame Helen Mirren, Orlando Bloom, Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville among others. Charlotte said: “I thought it looked great, but I didn’t really understand the enormity of it.” The intense summer course meant travelling to London and living in what was essentially student halls with a group of other budding actresses and ‘working’ from 9am-6pm. “The experience was just amazing. It’s really difficult to describe. It made me look at things differently. Apart from the incredible work we were doing every day, it gave me a taste of living away from home and boosted my confidence about going to university,” said Charlotte. “Some of my friends are a bit daunted by that, but I’m not scared at all anymore.” Also, now she’s on the NYT’s radar, Charlotte will have the opportunity to audition for exciting on-going projects that crop up throughout the year.
Charlotte’s a girl with a plan and is committed to getting to Exeter University, so a few things have been side-lined for a while at least. Charlotte explains that although she tries to practice saxophone as much as she can it’s not always possible. “It’s weird. I don’t actually practice that much. I try to, but schoolwork takes over a bit.” She has also given up ballroom and Latin dancing for now due to this year’s looming exams. Of all Charlotte’s talents I wonder which would be her preferred career option? “If I could play saxophone professionally I would do that,” she said. “I had an audition on Friday and I was the only saxophonist out of 70 people, so maybe.”