by Author Zoe Kilb

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Catalyser Fund Programme examples

Thinking about applying to Youth Music's Catalyser Fund?

Here are some examples of projects supported by Youth Music that are catalysing, by sustaining, scaling-up delivery or by creating change in sector practice. 

Music Fusion – ‘Music Lab’ 
Music Fusion are catalysing in Southampton, where they work with young people who are experiencing a range of barriers. They help to build confidence, self-esteem and communication skills and build bridges between young people and their local community. ‘Music Lab’ provides regular sustained music making opportunities that enable young people to progress their skills through taster sessions, 1-2-1 mentoring, rehearsing, recording and performing as well as artist development. The programme specialises in contemporary genres including hip-hop, grime, metal, dubstep and trap.

Young people are recruited to the project through word of mouth, Facebook and YouTube and they also receive referrals from the police, youth workers, Pupil Referral Units, Charities, music hubs and schools. Music sessions take place at Music Fusion’s own studios and at various local youth clubs. The Music Fusion team includes mentors, volunteers, and music leaders who are experience industry professionals. During lockdown Music Fusion has provided a ‘studio in a box’ service, loaning a ‘studio’ to young people for three days and then mentoring them through remote desktop sharing to help them develop the music they produce.

The staff team benefits from a regular training programme which includes topics such as health and safety, working with challenging behaviours and a studio engineer course. The Music Fusion project management team works closely with their staff to evaluate and reflect on learning from the programme. Listen to some of the music created by Music Fusion’s young musicians.


WILD Young Parents’ Project – ‘Music Makes me Happy – Our Stories’  
WILD Young Parents' Project is a charity that works with vulnerable young parents and their families in the most deprived areas of Cornwall. Their programme enables babies and young parents to better express emotions, communicate, strengthen identity, and to tell their stories musically, and be heard. Their Youth Music grant is enabling them to sustain and further develop their established Music Makes Me Happy programme.

Projects are all carefully co-designed through the feedback, participation and leadership of their young parents, and through listening and watching the feedback shown to them by their WILD babies and toddlers. Most of the WILD children are under 2, so they are creative in how they involve them in decision-making – using a mix of observation, child-led play, parent communication and video work to understand the children’s needs and preferences.

Regular weekly family music-making sessions involve singing, puppets, Makaton, stories and activities families can continue at home. Alongside this there are projects for young Mums and Dads with no children present. Song-writing, composition, singing and music tech are some of the activities on offer.  Supporting Mums and Dads in this way results in better outcomes for their children, as parents can teach, inspire, and model musical activities at home. There are also regular ‘Wild Choir’ sessions, where young parents from across Cornwall come together to learn, rehearse, and perform traditional Cornish songs. See some of the resources Wild Young Parents have developed to support their families.

A regular training programme ensures that WILD Young Parents’ music practitioners and early years practitioners are supported to develop their skills. They also work closely in partnership with a range of organisations including Newlyn Art Gallery, BBC, Eden Project, Cornwall Council and Story Republic – helping them to catalyse and influence change across a variety of sectors. Partnership working also enables WILD to offer a broad range of activities and opportunities to their families, helping them to engage with local Cornish heritage and expand their horizons to local and national opportunities.
Watch this recent Exchanging Notes session led by Wild Young Parents to find out more about their approach to partnership working and the impact it has on their families.


Reprezent Radio – 'The Specialists'
Reprezent – “the voice of young London” – is the UK’s only FM/DAB station mainly presented by under 25s. Listen to Reprezent Radio online and find out about their latest events.

An experienced organisation, Reprezent Radio are using this funding to continue to sustain their established ‘The Specialists’ programme. This is multi-faceted programme including sessional broadcast and music industry trianing course, guided practical work experience and onling youth-led radio programme. The Specialists supports young people facing barriers to succeed in a music career, whilst also supporting grassroots artists to platform their music and catalyser their music careers. 

Reprezent prides itself on being 'youth-led'; this means young people are responsible for driving the station's content. The workforce is made up of young people who came through the station as volunteers and young people act as peer mentors supporting younger volunteers.

Reprezent’s alumni have gone on to work for BBC radio, Apple Music and other major brands. Participants benefit from Reprezent’s network of music industry partners, social justice supporters and successful artists. Read an interview with Reprezent Radio’s Station Manager.

Drum Works
Drum Works uses drumming as a tool to inspire creativity, build social cohesion and empower young people to direct their own futures. Watch this video and find out what it’s like to be part of a Drum Works ensemble.

Through this grant Drum Works scaled-up their existing offer (previously supported through smaller Fund A grants) to enable them to deliver a multi-stranded programme working with different groups across different settings in Barking and Dagenham. Warren Comprehensive School was a longstanding Drum Works partner where three weekly sessions ran, two of which provided specialist support for pupils with special educational needs or social, emotional and mental health needs.

They also ran community-based open-access music sessions for young people from across Barking and Dagenham including one at the local Onside Youth Zone. There was also a closed group for young people who are referred by social services including looked-after young people, NEET young people and young people at risk of exploitation. The senior ensemble acted as a progression route. In this group, young people had the opportunity to develop leadership skills and achieve a Silver or Gold Arts Awards with additional 1:1 support sessions on offer.

Drumming sessions across all the strands were youth-led and collaborative, enabling young people to create their own music. Strong partnerships including with the Barbican and the Guildhall School of Music enabled Drum Works to offer their young people high profile performance opportunities.

Training and development was embedded into the programme for the Drum Works staff team, which included opportunities for partner organisations to share their expertise. Evaluation was built into each session with a strong culture of reflection across the organisation. The team has run sessions at academic and other conferences to share learning on their approach and the organisation was part of Youth Music’s four year Exchanging Notes action research programme.

Lincolnshire Music Service – ‘Uprising’
Lincolnshire Music Service (the lead organisation for Lincolnshire Music Hub) leads this programme on behalf of a consortium of the seven East Midlands Music Education Hubs (who are known as MEHEM!). MEHEM are catalysing change in music education sector across the East Midlands.  The programme takes a strategic regional approach to music-making activities with and for Disabled young people. Through their grant, the MEHEM consortium members are structuring and implementing a regional framework to enable them to learn from and with each other. They aim to increase region-wide collaboration, enable organisational development, strengthen the workforce and improve music-making opportunities across the East Midlands for Disabled young people.

Each Hub delivers projects in their local area in partnership with a local delivery partner. They then come together to reflect, share and learn from one another. Annual conference events enable practice to be disseminated more widely and the partnership is working hard to build sustainable relationship with and through wider national networks.


Yorkshire Youth & Music – ‘Musical Freedoms’
Yorkshire Youth and Music ‘s grant allowed them to sustain and scale-up their work so that they could deliver a multi-stranded programme, working across a range of funding themes.

The work was led by a diverse range of music practitioners with a variety of specialisms and backgrounds appropriate to the settings they worked in. A Youth Justice strand worked in Secure Children’s Homes with some of the country’s most vulnerable young people and offered singing, instrumental, song writing, rap and beat making development as well as the opportunity to plan and deliver celebration events. Music leaders were integrated into staff teams and attended the daily briefings so that they had a holistic overview of young people’s needs. Short-term community-based projects were also delivered in partnership with Youth Offending Teams. Listen to tracks created by one of the participants.

Their Early Years strand worked with babies and toddlers in women’s prisons to support children’s language and motor skills and help build trusting relationships between children and their parents. And a wellbeing and Disabled Young people strand looked at developing new approaches to working with young people with severe and complex needs. The musical approach was explorative and creative, making use of instruments, music tech, voices, bodies and found objects in any combination that worked for the participants. 1:1 working is a strong feature, although where possible the music-making was also collaborative. There was also stand led by D/deaf professional musicians to deliver workshops and advocate for instrumental learning by D/deaf young people and young people with hearing loss. Read a case study about Barry, who took part in Yorkshire Youth & Music’s Great Singing, Great Signing project.