JAMIE Berry desperately wanted to study music at school.

“I played the piano as a child - I used to play by ear or write my own songs. I loved music at school and used to play piano at Christmas concerts and other school shows.

“I also played in a band with friends - I was the guitarist and backing vocalist.”

But when it came to choosing his GCSE subjects Jamie, who then lived in Lincolnshire, was urged not to choose music. “My music teacher explained that the GCSE focused mainly on classical music, annotating sheet music and learning about theory,” he recalls.

“Although my music teachers could clearly see that I could play, they were put off by my lack of theory and sight reading capabilities. My teacher told me I would struggle to keep up with the theory side of the course. Two years later I asked to be considered for the A-level course but was rejected again because I had missed out on two years of musical theory at GCSE.”

His teacher also recommended that he started official exam grades in guitar, which Jamie, who was then living in Lincolnshire, felt would spoil his enjoyment of the instrument. “I was completely put off. I wanted to be a music producer or sound engineer, or play guitar and compose music. I was self-taught and played by ear. At the time I wasn’t interested in theory.”

These early setbacks did not, however, impact on his future in the music industry. His passion for it won through and he is now head of music at a Leeds secondary school. He is also a successful producer, and musician in his own right.

Jamie, of Pudsey, is signed to Anonymous Recordings, has billions of streams on his songs, a large and ever-growing fan base, and has had his music used in a number of TV adverts.

His early interest in music was fuelled by his grandfather, a classical pianist.

“He got me into music at a very young age. He taught me the basics and then I taught myself through playing and experimenting on my keyboard at home.

“My Dad brought me up on AC/DC, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Human League, Red Hot Chili Peppers - so a real mixed bag. He was a guitarist and loved heavy rock.” I was really into my Indie music at secondary school.”

When Jamie left school he knew he wanted to be a music producer. “Realistically I knew that it would be unlikely that it would make me enough money to live off, so I was resigned to the fact it would only be a hobby,” he says. “As a career, I had no idea what I wanted to do, aside from work with people.”

He applied for a course in music technology at Leeds Metropolitan University, now Leeds Beckett, and was thrilled to get a place.

“I was elated. I never thought I’d ever get to study music at degree level. They accepted me purely on my musical experience and passion for music. It was a real confidence booster.

“There were moments when I felt a bit intimidated by some of the other musicians on the course who really knew their stuff, but you quickly start to realise that music is such a broad spectrum and you can’t possibly play every instrument, or be good at every aspect of it, so I learned to be confident with my set of skills.”

It was friends who were music producers who inspired him to make dance music, which he began producing after graduating from university.

“I bought some speakers and music software and made a bedroom music studio. I must have written thousands of songs - most were terrible and unfinished,” he says. “I’d be up until 5am every morning making music. I’d spend up to a month on one track, and it would still sound rubbish. It was soul destroying at times.”

But he persevered and, aged 23, he had his first mini-break with a track signed to a label in Romania. “I was so excited I phoned my Dad and told him that I had made it. The track was released worldwide on every platform. I received my first every royalty cheque three months later - for £1.87. I was gutted,” he recalls.

At 25 he discovered electro-swing. “This was the turning point. I released my breakout single, Delight, and this opened the door to my way into the music industry. “I was contacted by people from all over the world asking me to DJ. I had my music played on TV adverts around the world.” My songs were played millions of times on YouTube and I had celebrity endorsements from the likes of Wayne Rooney.

“I got to perform in front of huge crowds at some of the UK’s biggest music festivals - things really took off.”

He adds: “I never really wanted to be a DJ, I was more into the production side but I was told it would help my career, and it did,” he says

Jamie, who has supported big names such as Shaggy and Ed Solo, has played at some of the biggest UK festivals as well as clubs in London, Leeds and Manchester. He’s played in Europe and toured Australia. His first album, Frenzy, was released on Flak Records in 2017. “I produce electro-swing which is a hybrid of jazz, swing and electronic music,” he says.

Jamie had always wanted to work with young people but never considered teaching music due to his lack of a GCSE or A-level in the subject. Seven years ago. he was offered a job as a music technician at Co-op Academy Priesthorpe school in Pudsey and worked his way up.

“I did an AO route into teaching which is an accelerated route,” he says. Six months ago Jamie, who has a four month-old daughter Isla with his wife Haley, became head of music.

“There are so many talented pupils that would have been cast aside when I was at school – kids that are producing amazing hip-hop on computers or beatboxing. We recently won a national award for our Grime music. They absolutely love it and it is really important to me that students are given the opportunities to explore every part of the subject.”

He adds: “I love working with the students. It’s hard to fit it all in sometimes with the DJing. The principal, Martin Blacoe, is very supportive and has allowed me to leave a little early on some occasions to catch a flight.”

“I hope my story iis inspirational to those that want to make a career in music.” *Follow Jamie on Instagram: @jamieberryuk. Helen Mead