by Author Jenny Beer

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Reflections from two young leaders

Janki running her first workshop

“I can be put in a room full of people I’ve never met and find ways of working with them” – Drum Works apprentices Janki Makwana and Laurie Mann share their experiences of the past year


During my apprentice year I was involved in many performances, weekly drumming sessions, training sessions and one-to-one mentoring meetings. Before the scheme I was already attending weekly sessions as a participant and doing a variety of performances, however this gave me an insight on the preparation and process behind it all. The training sessions boosted my confidence in working with children, eventually building up to me leading a workshop. The mentoring sessions were all about me and my personal development through my career, which is music. I found the sessions very helpful, even just having someone to talk to as well as talking about my future.

I worked in St Pauls Way Trust School as my main focus, supporting weekly drumming sessions. I worked with several groups including: years 7-11, an SEN group and a group of children with hearing loss. When I first started working in the school I found it very difficult to communicate to the kids, I wasn't very confident and I didn't feel comfortable being put into the teaching environment. I also found that I had to be able to adapt to different environments for different schools, sometimes I had to sit back and let them listen whereas sometimes I had to go in and help hands-on.

My first ever public workshop was very nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. It was more challenging than I thought, however I knew exactly what I needed to do, just had to stop overthinking it. The training sessions helped me out loads in preparation for it. I felt that I could’ve been clearer on certain parts of it and planned it out thoroughly before doing it. However overall I felt that I was very friendly and confident at most times. I received very positive feedback and I’m happy to have done it in the end.

The mentoring sessions helped me see my whole situation much more clearly and allowed me to make a decision about university. Initially I was unsure about going to university, however this year I realised that I don’t have to go university for what I want to do. Talking to my mentor about it gave me clarity and I didn’t feel pressured or influenced to do one thing or the other. I really liked having a mentor as someone I could talk to about my future!

Towards the end of the year I got to travel to Athens with some other members of the Drum Works team. It was such an amazing experience I was very fortunate to go. I met loads of great people, worked in many different scenarios and had really, really nice food! I enjoyed the very hot weather and staying with the team, I liked how we had something to do every day and I liked working with the young people there. I learnt more about different learning styles and how to adapt to every group’s dynamic and energy differently. I would definitely love to go back to Athens to do more work, even as voluntary work.

Finishing the year I can now say that I can run a drum festival workshop, which was what I was most nervous about at the start. I’ve gained so much more confidence in general when talking to people; the scheme took me out my comfort zone to the point where I had to be more social and very open. I’ve made a lot of close bonds throughout the year through the project. I also feel that I can be put in a room full of people that I’ve never met and find ways of working with them.


In my time working with Drum Works I have gained so many new skills and experiences. I was able to take part in the delivery of weekly sessions as well as receiving mentoring in order to develop my own musical skills as well as my confidence as an apprentice.

I was able to help deliver sessions in many different settings over the course of the year. I was lucky enough get to work in my old secondary school on a few occasions. For me, this felt very rewarding as I was able to give back to a community that always nurtured my musical talent and helped me to grow and flourish into the musician I am today. It was also great to be able to feel like I could inspire other young people to want to progress through the project.

Towards the start of the year I personally found that I wasn't particularly confident being in a position of leadership. I was definitely out of my comfort zone for the first few sessions I helped out at. As the year went on I definitely became a lot more confident with my role as an apprentice. The mentoring and apprentice training sessions were a great way to speak on/actively improve anything I felt as though I needed to work on within my job as an apprentice.

By the end of the year I felt as though I had gained a lot of confidence - especially in being able to speak in front of larger groups of people. I now feel a lot more comfortable with being able to take a lead within a session (leading warm ups, teaching new beats etc.)

In June 2018 I was granted with the opportunity to travel alongside five others from the Drum Works Team to Athens, Greece to help deliver Drum Works sessions to various groups of people from all different backgrounds for 10 days. It was amazing to experience how music can be used as a non-verbal form of communication. We were able to work past the language barrier to create amazing music. 

Over the next year or so, I personally plan to mainly work on my career as a recording artist and songwriter, but still remain involved in the amazing things Drum Works is doing.