The National Foundation for Youth Music is a charity providing life-changing music-making opportunities for young people facing significant challenges in their lives, including disability, special educational needs, poverty, living in care or in rural isolation. Youth Music supports almost 400 music projects across the country, working with over 90,000 children and young people every year. Almost half of the projects take place in the most deprived boroughs in the UK.
Primarily community-based, Youth Music projects work across all music genres, enabling participants to learn about music production and post-production, playing instruments, collaborating with others in bands and choirs, and developing performance skills.
For many of these young people, taking part in a Youth Music project gives them a sense of empowerment, developing their self-confidence and social skills in a way that helps them achieve their full potential, professionally and personally. The charity’s fundraising efforts include Give a Gig, a campaign encouraging artists, bands, promoters and venue owners to donate a percentage of the proceeds of live music events to support Youth Music’s work.
“Youth Music invests in 400 music projects for children and young people in challenging circumstances including disability, poverty, special needs and living in care.”
Lewis, 16, who has Down’s syndrome, and Jenny, 13, who is a carer for her brother who has learning disabilities, became firm friends while attending Inclusive Music Projects (IMPS) sessions in York. They are now both young apprentices with the skills and confidence to teach songs to others.
Jenny says: “Leading workshops helped our confidence because we taught new people instead of people we knew, so it was kind of scary but quite nice to explore new things at the same time. At the end of it, we felt good and happy. We felt we had been a success.”
Joe, aged 18, has Cerebral Palsy and his movement is restricted. OpenUp Music in Bristol developed a new instrument which gave him the chance to make music with others.
Joe uses his eyes to speak by selecting vocabulary on his communication aid. He says:
“I created music using the Kinect sensor but also listened to music, to fellow members, for my cue to come in. I had to watch the conductor, and know and understand when to play. It made me feel amazing. It helped me concentrate and channel my behaviour by focusing on the music. It was cool.”
Muz, from Tottenham in North London, had been in and out of prison and mental health care since his arrest in 2006. Making music with Key Changes has been a central part of his recovery and return to the community.
Muz says: “Now I can make my own beats, I can song write, I can sing, I can rap. They’ve helped me have confidence, get back my style and my sound. I can freestyle easy, I don’t have voices in my head saying ‘its rubbish, its rubbish’, instead I hear ‘that’s good’.”
At two years old, Jaxsen had speech and language delays. The Grove Community Project in Birmingham helped develop her communication skills.
Jaxsen’s mum says: “I had no idea though that singing songs would make such an impact straight away. We couldn’t believe it really. The tantrums improved and she started to sing songs about colours and numbers and singing nursery rhymes that she hadn’t sung before. Even though she is still slightly behind other children of her age, her speech and development have really improved. I was amazed and it shows how beneficial the workshops have been.”
YOUTH MUSIC AND ART IN A CORNER…
“Youth Music is delighted to be a beneficiary of this original and creative project which has such an intriguing history behind it. I imagine that for some musicians taking part, painting a work for public show might seem like something of a challenge but as we know, creativity is at the heart of music-making and I hope the ‘muse’ will visit all those participating in this wonderful initiative. While we await the outcome with some curiosity, it is simply the commitment of some great performing artists that we are most grateful for, as well as their willingness to expose their artistic endeavours on canvas for our benefit. In doing so, they will be supporting our work to make music-making opportunities available to every child, regardless of background or circumstances. Our thanks also to Eazl for coming up with this brilliant idea and choosing Youth Music as a charity partner.”
Matt Griffiths, CEO