City Youth Music

Newcastle upon Tyne

Your story

We create opportunities for young people to perform and listen to live music.

Group introduction

The group has been running, informally, since about 2004, when a rock band of 11 year olds was looking for places where they could perform. They found opportunities in community festivals, slowly developing a good, local following. In 2009, when they were 15 and 16, they were advised on how they could form themselves into a recognised group, and with the help of their parents, applied for funding from a national organisation, the Youth Opportunity Scheme. The aim was to provide opportunities for young people, who were under 18 and therefore too young to perform in licensed premises, to be able to perform publicly and professionally. They put on regular band nights on Friday nights, keeping young people off the streets and out of trouble. Some grant applications were made by parents, some by the young people themselves.
As the initial young people have moved on to jobs and college, some of them into the music industry, other young people and their parents have joined. In recognition of the number of music events that City Youth Music promotes, the local authority has funded a young person as a youth worker, for 5 hours a week, over the last three years. The aims of the group have grown, providing opportunities for musicians as young as 8 to perform in cafes and small public events, in local talent competitions and encouraging more young girls to perform. We have recognised that some young musicians lack confidence and so have run confidence workshops, preparing young people for public performances. We have some musicians with disabilities, including autism, who can become too focussed on certain aspects of their performances, so we have sought professional advice in helping them to broaden and develop their musical skills. We have also run sound and lighting workshops for young people who are interested in music, but may not feel that they have the requisite skills to perform publicly. Our next priority is to promote a well-known band and have one of our young bands support them.
Our aims are not just about music, but about teaching young people to work together as a team: to think of others, to set up and put away equipment, not to go over their allotted time and therefore reduce the time that others have, to wait and listen to others performing and not just go off after their own performance and to understand and help us to raise funds for future events. We also encourage young people to recognise possible difficulties in public performances and develop their confidence: to engage others at the start of their performance, to continue playing when members of the audience are talking, to keep going even if they make mistakes, and to enjoy themselves and feel good about themselves.
Last year the group organised 35 public events, with nearly 200 young people performing and 1,300 young people, family members and others listening. The performers ranged in age from 8-17 years. Some musicians left us at the end of the year to continue a career in music, including our youth worker

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

Three years ago we had a successful event where 19 young girls sang solos, with their teacher supporting them on guitar. Unfortunately, afterwards, none of them would sing with the support of one of our young musicians, saying they were not confident enough, without their teacher. We realised that confidence is an important area to work on.
With help from the Big Lottery we obtained funding to run professional skills and confidence workshops in 2015. These were followed by opportunities for the young people to perform in public venues and they reported that their skills had improved. This year we obtained further funding from the Big Lottery to run these workshops again, this time including young people with disabilities and autism. We have advertised the workshops through the National Autistic Society and have had a lot of interest.
We would use funding from Grassroots Giving to run further sound and lighting workshops, and professional skills and confidence workshops next year, including people with and without disabilities. To run each workshop we need to pay for room hire, tutors and between one and three support workers for the young people with disabilities. Each workshop is for up to 10 people. With £500 we could run up to 6 workshops for about 50 young people in total.
After the workshops we provide lot of opportunities for young people to perform publicly, both in small and large venues. We would expect young people to perform, who have not done so previously. We already have young people with disabilities performing, but we will expect more young people with disabilities to be able to perform. The Newcastle Music Education Service has also expressed an interest in us helping them to identify a band with disabled young performers. We hope that in future, we can ask young people to do our sound and lighting at public events, rather than relying on parents. We will also hope that we can help more young people achieve a future career in the music world.

"It was a pleasure to do the sound at the last Young Bands night. I'm glad that I could help and I'd be more than happy to help out with the sound for things in the future.

Marcus, 16, young person who has just started to do our sound at public events"

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