LUGGING an accordion found 'lying around' the house, five-year-old Max Restaino settled under the family table one Christmas day and began tickling the keys.

Thirteen years and one rather bold move from his mother later, the singer-songwriter who hails from Sheffield has released his first EP touted by the BBC as a 'fantastic piece of music' and recorded with the likes of Gary Barlow, Donny Osmond and Geri Halliwell.

"A lot of my family is from Italy so there was always an accordion lying around the house," he says before bursting out laughing. "I was about five. I started to play the accordion in my dad's Italian restaurant around that time. He didn't even know I was there. I just entertained the customers."

The accordion well and truly mastered, the autodidact set his sights on the saxophone - he was tutored by a former AC/DC base player who happened to live down the road in Sheffield at the time - the piano, guitar and harmonica.

Eventually he started composing his own material at the age of 11. This prompted his plucky mother to contact Steelworks Studio, the 'local' recording studio, run by none other than legendary producer and Grammy-award winner Eliot Kennedy, the man behind some of Spice Girls and Take That's biggest hits.

The acclaimed singer songwriter took Max under his wing, gradually nurturing his talent in the recording booth.

"My mum rang up when I was about ten and that's how it started. I wrote songs and Eliot produced them with me. And when I left school in 2012, I got an internship making teas and after a while I learnt to produce."

As well as performing on Gary Barlow's Since I Saw You Last and Donny Osmond's 60th album, he has accompanied Olly Murs on the saxophone and accordion for a Children In Need special.

"I suppose in music, working with big names can be scary. But for me it's about the music. That's what I focus on."

He recently released his debut single Obvious. Now Max is poised to embark on a rather unusual tour, shunning concert arenas in favour of school halls.

His UK Schools Tour will launch tomorrow with a visit to Isambard.

"I was inspired by the pianist James Rhodes," he adds. "He went round schools and did a documentary for Channel 4. He got people to donate instruments to schools. I wanted to go out and inspire children and play music. Music has helped me all my life - I don't know where I would be without it. I wanted to pass that on."

As well as performing his own material, Max will throw down the gauntlet, challenging pupils at each school to write their own songs.

At the end of the tour Max will pick the best lyrics, set them to music and record the finished melody for the winner.

"I'll sing it myself, but only if they want me to," he adds humbly.

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