MUSIC has the power to heal.

That is the message of two professional performers, with more than 30 years of experience between them, who are bringing a samba drumming group to Warrington.

Lorna Peers and Matt Nicholson are launching Batida Rio at Fearnhead Cross Community and Youth Centre in Insall Road tomorrow, Thursday.

After planning the classes over the past two years, the pair are hoping unite people who have been isolated during the pandemic.

Matt said: "It's been a tough year for all of us and as musicians ourselves, we've really missed the sense of community that group performance brings.

"We're really excited by the response we've already had to our first session. It's shown that people are gaining confidence around getting together and trying something new to connect with each other again."

Lorna added: "I found myself among millions of others last year as a vulnerable individual. I was furloughed from work for my own safety, and stayed home far longer than many chose to.

The National Lottery and Co-op Local Community Fun-supported Batida Rio was already being planned before the pandemic hit, but at that time with a global pandemic, it felt a little like a pipe dream. Now feels like a really exciting time for us launch."

On Thursday there is a free introductory session between 7pm and 9pm and those interested can simply turn up.

Each session is two hours and is spent learning and practicing rhythms.

Attendees can try a variety of instruments, or focus on a preferred instrument and will learn about the history of samba music and styles.

Matt said: "Samba is great because the instruments and music are easy to learn, and even those with no prior experience can be playing along in minutes.

"You're listening to your own playing, listening to others and watching for directions for changes, so you get lost in the experience. Anyone who's seen a samba band can agree it's an energising, exciting sound."

For Lorna, there is a therapeutic aspect to the communal experience of making music.

Batida Rio

Batida Rio

The former Culcheth High student added: "Music really does have such a power to heal. Playing as a group, with such exciting and energetic music is a huge mood booster.

"Drumming in particular helps you to de-stress, I've lost count how many times I haven't felt like playing that day, yet I always feel amazing afterwards and like nothing can bring me down."

Matt and Lorna met at Manchester School of Samba, through which they have performed at major festivals and events. They wanted to bring a similar experience to Warrington.

Lorna, who has lived in Warrington for 30 years, said: "At Culcheth High School I was lucky enough to be taught by a wonderful music teacher called Chris Perry.

"I'd spent most of my life learning various instruments – with two grandparents being music teachers it was hard not to be influenced.

"But I'd never learnt percussion until that point. Chris briefly taught me the drum kit for a while, and then he started an extra curricular samba band at the school, and from that point I was hooked.

"I spent a long time learning a wide variety of samba instruments, and I'd been playing for around 15 years when I started to have dreams of setting up my own band.

"I didn't really know how to go about it but after playing alongside Matt for a year or two, I told him about my dream and asked if he wanted to join forces on the project.

"I'm delighted he came on board as business director and he has been amazing in helping to make it happen. Batida Rio has been in the pipeline for two years now, and I'm so excited that it's about to launch."

A lot of projects have emerged during the Covid crisis with many searching for new opportunities when restrictions turned life upside down.

Matt added: "It's felt a bit like the pandemic has given people the opportunity to think about what they really want to do and how they can contribute to their communities.

"I think the sense of solidarity has given lots of people the confidence to start their own projects or get involved. I'm seeing innovative new ideas all the time, and I'm excited to be a part of that new wave of creativity within the community."