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Inclusive Music Spaces Case Study by Marina Perryman

Participant G (aged 12) began attending the Hangleton-based Music Spaces inclusive drop-in in September 2019. The project provides a welcoming and inclusive music making space for young people on the outskirts of Brighton and Hove, who would not otherwise have access to the music experiences available nearer the city centre. The inclusive nature of the sessions is underpinned by the diverse skillset within an experienced music leader team, working alongside highly supportive local youth workers. The content and musical activities within the drop-in sessions are responsively tailored around the interests, experience and needs presented by each young person. The participant-centred workshops are therefore different each week and incorporate a combination of; lyric writing, singing and rap, beat production, instrument tuition, performance skills, jamming and artist development.

G was introduced to the project by their parent, who had found the details on the AudioActive social media channels. G has a huge love of music, playing a few instruments alone at home, but had been experiencing considerable difficulties with anxiety and has therefore been under the care of CAMHS. It was a significant challenge for G to join a group session and initially they were very reluctant to enter the space or engage with anyone at the project.

Upon first arrival G was; welcomed by the music leaders, asked about their musical interests and let know they were free to try out whatever they liked musically or just hang out and see what was going on. G was visibly apprehensive at first, but had brought a guitar and relaxed sufficiently by the end of their first session to simultaneously play and beatbox for the music leaders. The positive experience of this could be seen to be a huge boost for G, who left clearly uplifted after their first drop-in.

G became highly dedicated to attending the weekly music sessions, trying out new things each time and very noticeably growing in confidence and their sense of belonging every week. Initially G worked mostly alongside one music leader who supported their guitar playing whilst inviting them to try other instruments and vocal techniques. As the Autumn term progressed G appeared more confident to work alongside all of the music leaders in turn; working on lyric writing, rap and beat production with some tutors; plus, keyboards, guitar and vocals in the jamming room. In addition to the clear wellbeing outcomes for G, they have also shown huge creativity and diverse musical talent. G’s parent spoke with the youth work and music team each week and provided feedback that the project was significantly helping to reduce G’s anxiety.

By the end of their first term, G was nominated by the music leaders for the AudioActive Simon D’Souza Award which celebrates individuals who show commitment and energy to make a positive contribution to music. G returned in the Spring term with a video showing they had grown in confidence sufficiently to give a speech at a large family function and to sing with guitar for the guests. G also proudly took the video of their public nomination for the Simon D Souza Award to show their school music teacher.

During the Spring term, G has used Logic Pro X to produce a track incorporating rap, their own lyrics, keyboards and beat production skills. For over a term, G had seemed unsure about rapping or beatboxing in front of other young people but would occasionally listen to others from outside the room. During the spring term, G was celebrated for playing their completed track to the group. G had spent time watching older peers and tutors freestyle rapping alongside instrumentalists. In time G ventured to join the group, showing incredible freestyle beatbox ability for others to rap over, and discovering they could back the rappers by simultaneously playing keyboards and beatboxing.

Quotes from G’s parent

“The music project has made a huge difference. G is now singing, rapping and working on playing instruments all the time. We are going to get G a keyboard for Christmas and possibly some drums soon too”.

“It was massive that G gave a speech and performed at the family function. We’ve brought a video to show you. This wouldn’t have happened without G coming to the music sessions here”

Quote from G

“I love music and it’s what I do. I don’t know what I want to do in music in the future but I just want to keep doing more. I can’t believe I got nominated for an award. That’s awesome”.