by Author Emily Crossland

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Case Study - The Danesgate Community Project in York

The National Centre for Early Music has been working with York Music Hub as part of a Music4U project to embed music  as a regular part of school culture for The Danesgate Community Pupil Support Centre in York

Over time, music sessions have become an increasingly important way for young people to develop confidence, communication skills and reflective abilities, as well as a means of nurturing musical understanding and talent. Some young people have been using their activity towards GCSEs in Performing Arts, and others will soon start working on Arts Awards, as a way of recognising achievement through formal qualifications (which many of the young people have not previously attained).

Below are several brief summaries of the stories that music leaders (Christian Topman and Billy Hickling) have shared.

Names have been changed.


“Rarely have I seen such concentration - he loves it.  With very little guidance (e.g. ‘use only the white notes’), Louis has managed to improvise shapes and motifs and even forms. This has generated a real enthusiasm to learn more technique and he has asked for information on reading music, and music theory. Over a year of teaching Louis, I have noticed significant changes in his attitude and behaviour as our tutor / pupil relationship develops.  As his confidence in his true ability has grown, he now focuses his attention on what he might not know, and more to the point, what I need to do to help him with that. Put simply, Louis is hungry for all sorts of knowledge about music, and is still in the process of grabbing hold of lots of ideas and trying things.”


“Kraig has a very vivid imagination and has created complicated stories with worlds and characters.  He started by humming a tune he wanted to use and asked me to realise it on the keyboard.  I then rendered it into a basic arrangement for him on Logic.  This has led to him taking much more of an interest in production, what it means, and what he can input as a ‘Director’.  He is now engaged with the process of creating tunes for each of his characters.  He is now at the keyboard himself, rather than using me as a transcriber, and he is happier to experiment to find a tune.   The process has been very positive.”


“Running music sessions with Jay has been difficult but very rewarding and is constantly evolving. He has lots of aptitude for music and he hear rhythms and pitch very well but many of the early sessions were a constant ‘negotiation’ to get him to take part. A breakthrough came when he shared with me a song he had written – he even let me play a guitar backing for him. Following this, his concentration and attainment have been much better.”


“Russell has started with lots of enthusiasm for playing guitar and he has been inspired by watching other musicians on the internet. In our sessions, we have had fun tracking down the originals of the songs he has discovered via his heroes’ cover versions (e.g. Thunderstruck / ACDC) to give him a new experience of the music he has enjoyed. He is very keen to learn guitar lines and I have found an acoustic guitar for him to use at home and he has already started practicing. He has some confidence issues and we are just at the start of a musical journey with Russell, but there is lots to be encouraged and excited about.”