21 June 2019
I grew up in a large, loud and very musical family. Two of my brothers are musicians, so family dinners often descend into informal band practice. Growing up, there was always music playing somewhere, and depending on the day it could be religious choral music, Tchaikovsky, 80s glam rock or anything in between! I started playing the piano when I was eight, and by the time I got to high school, I’d taken up violin and trumpet too! I always enjoyed making music, but like many people, once I left school, I had fewer opportunities.
A couple of years ago I decided to pick up the violin again. I joined a local orchestra and was inducted into the joys of community music-making! Showing up the first time was terrifying. I was thrown in at the deep end, but I improved faster than I ever would have playing on my own. And I felt embraced and welcomed by a diverse community of musicians I never would have met otherwise. That’s what Make Music Day is all about: coming together in our communities to share our love of music.
At London Youth we support young people to do creative projects in their local area. We recognise that music happens everywhere, and a youth club or community centre is as good a place as any to kickstart a lifelong passion for music. To create opportunities for young people from all backgrounds, we need to build the capacity of places where young people can go and make music together.
This year, through our Young Culture Makers programme, we worked with several youth organisations who used music to support young people’s development.
One of these was St Michael’s & All Angels Steel Orchestra, a grassroots community initiative in Brent that supports young people to make steel pan music, while spending time with friends, having fun and developing their skills. I went to visit them one Friday evening in a youth centre was amazed at how focused, determined and passionate they were. Another was Frenford Clubs in Redbridge, who teamed up with local musicians. When they performed at our Showcase event in May, these young people blew my mind! They performed original songs for an audience of over 100. It was energising to hear young people singing about identity, the place they grew up and their aspirations for the future.
But in addition to supporting young people, we also want to build the capacity of the youth organisations that work with young people every day of the week.
Back in January, we delivered an inspiring workshop in partnership with Sound Connections. This brought together youth workers and music educators to discuss how we can work together more effectively so that all young people can access opportunities in their area. This means unlocking all the assets, spaces, talents and connections that exist within communities.
We do all this to ensure that young Londoners have local places where they can make music and develop their talents. Whether they end up making music for the rest of their lives, pursue a career in the music industry, or just dust off the old instrument decades later like I did, it all starts with having a safe, accessible place to get creative.
Find out more about our Young Culture Makers programme here and if you’d like to work with us to improve young people’s access to music opportunities, please contact our Arts Development Officer, Emily Reddon.
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