Allsorts is a music project that takes places every week during term time at Z-arts in Hulme, Manchester. We have two sessions that currently take place: Allsorts Essentials for 5-10 year olds and Allsorts Unplugged for 11-16 year olds. Many of the young people that attend our sessions have little to no access to any other music projects, and Allsorts is the one time during their week they feel they can express themselves, socialise and be creative. Thanks to Youth Music, Allsorts has been running for a number of years. For 2018 there is going to be some exciting new changes to the project. We listened to what our young musicians had to say, and were exctied for the future!
Throughout the year our young musicians have explored, developed and created music within the genres of Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Reggae, Funk and Punk. Each term our young people were given genres as inspiration to create new music or revive cover songs with guidance and support from our music leaders. We try to ensure that our young musicians develop in a number of key musical areas including writing, vocals, playing instruments, production, recording and performing.
One of the main objectives of our music project is that our young people feel safe and supported in expressing themselves creatively. Our young people do not want to feel like they are at school and they like that Allsorts gives them freedom but also gives them room to develop and learn. For the music leaders of the project, finding the balance between the two can be tricky. The key is to discover fun and creative ways to teach and for our young people to learn. It is our responsibility to keep up to date with new music, artists and events that young people are interested in and to incorporate this research into our sessions. It is also our responsibility to ensure that our young people learn and develop in a wide range of new skills. We do this by communicating with our young people regularly and getting their feedback on a termly basis. We ask them what they want to learn, who they are listening to, what they enjoyed the most from the previous term, what they didn’t enjoy etc. This evaluation style process is done though the formal way of completing written evaluations but we also gather data through fun games and exercises and partner or group work. We have learned over the years that the less the session feels like school, and the more fun and interactive they are, the more responsive the young people will be. We start every session with a fun musical game or icebreaker and each session will include creating music or developing music skills as well as learning something new.
Next year is going to be exciting! We are officially rebranding and changing our name from Allsorts to Voice & Beatz which we believe represents our project more. We also will be introducing a 16+ scheme that will give five 16-25 year olds the opportunity to develop and learn skills into becoming music leaders. This has been designed for our young people due to a demand from our young people, that the project needed to include a progressive route for those who are at the age limit. We also have plans to take our young people on musical trips, concerts, gigs and music events which again, has been asked for by our young people. Voice & Beatz have already started the process of connecting with partners from arts and youth organizations to encourage collaboration between our groups that can lead to collaborative performances. All of these exciting new adaptions planned for the project in 2018 have been suggested by our young musicians, and we are thrilled and thankful to Youth Music for allowing us to run our music project for another year.