The project at Whiddon Valley was funded by Daisi’s Soundwaves project, which aims to support new partnerships in delivering music projects relevant to specific needs of children in challenging circumstances. It arose from local ‘ambassadors’ who searched for and identified centres and musicians keen to develop music related activities for young people in locations where there were currently gaps in provision. The geographical areas for attention were highlighted because of issues such as rural isolation, economic deprivation and addressing the needs of young people with disabilities and learning differences.
The project put two professional musicians and a trainee music leader to work with an already existing singing group – ‘Exc3ptional’ – formed by North Devon Homes from three local youth groups. The group had previously worked with a volunteer musician who had left to go on to college. Soundwaves musicians worked with the group to help them develop a performance from the songs they had written with an aim to tell their stories.
Although the group were interested in music, there were no young people with experience of learning music. Therefore, everyone was happier to use the existing songs rather than write new material. Two members of the group showed an interest in the technical side of recording and spent time editing the sung parts.
“I just think they're keen to do something outside of school, it's quite rewarding I think, it's quite a good buzz as well – singing in front of people. Any piece of software is a new challenge if you haven't used it before, and it's quite a lot to take in straight away. I think they're getting there with it, I think they're doing really well – probably better than what I would do in the same situation!”
Mike Cook, workshop leader
The musicians helped the young people improve their singing skills, and practise and record individual parts for the backing tracks. The final performance, held at the Landmark Theatre, gave the project a goal to aim for, which helped to keep everyone focused. The youth workers clearly had a good relationship with the young people involved and supported them in their choice to sing about the various social issues facing them.
“I like music and when Andy mentioned it to me I thought I would like it because I like to record and IT stuff, so I just came and did some work to see if I could help so I could develop in my life.”
Young person involved in recording
“To start working on their confidence and performance skills we've had two performances, one at the North Devon Homes Summer Fair in front of about 500 people, and then another one at the Croyde Sandcastle Competition in August, in front of hundreds of people again.”
Sam Brignell, Project Leader
“Hopefully they'll get a good sense of achievement from doing these workshops, especially getting stuff recorded, so they can realise their own potential.”
Sam Lythgoe-Jones, Music Leader