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 experience organisation, Reprezent Radio are using this funding to continue to sustain their established ‘The Specialists’ programme. A youth steering group informed the design of their programme, which aims to address underlying issues preventing young people from fulfilling their potential – low aspirations, low self-esteem and low skill levels. The steering group ran three focus groups and surveyed over 100 young people aged 11 – 19. This resulted in a music, media and broadcast training programme designed and delivered by young people.

Young musicians, specialist music presenters and music entrepreneurs work alongside other young people to produce and release music and create radio shows full of live performances, DJ sets and interviews. Participants complete Bronze Arts Award accredited training, followed by structured radio-based work experience that supports them to develop their musical understanding, gain practical ‘real world’ skills and champion their particular genre to an audience of thousands. More experienced participants are guided and mentored by industry professionals to set up their own record label and release physical music. 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 are scaling-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 is a longstanding Drum Works partner where three sessions take place each week, two of which provide specialist support for pupils with special educational needs or social, emotional and mental health needs.

They run community-based open-access music sessions for young people from across Barking and Dagenham including one at the local Onside Youth Zone. There is 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 acts as a progression route. In this group, young people have 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 are youth-led and collaborative, enabling young people to create their own music. Strong partnerships including with the Barbican and the Guildhall School of Music enable Drum Works to offer their young people high profile performance opportunities.

Training and development is embedded into the programme for the Drum Works staff team, which includes opportunities for partner organisations to share their expertise. Evaluation is built into each session and there is a strong culture of reflection in 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 has allowed them to sustain and scale-up their work so that they can deliver a multi-stranded programme, working across a range of funding themes.

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

Their Early Years strand works 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. A wellbeing and Disabled Young people strand is looking at developing new approaches to working with young people with severe and complex needs. The musical approach is explorative and creative, making use of instruments, music tech, voices, bodies and found objects in any combination that works for the participants. 1:1 working is a strong feature, although where possible the music-making is also collaborative. There is also a 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 has taken part in Yorkshire Youth & Music’s Great Singing, Great Signing project.