Youth Music Project

Gamelan Youth Music Project

“It was great watching the young people support each other in sessions and be able to offer them the opportunity of accessing a community music setting”
Cindy-Jo Morison, Music Therapist

“The project has allowed Young People to have a voice through music, to make choices and decisions where these may not be available during normal courses of life”
Activities Staff, Ferndene

“I am feeling more relaxed singing in a big group because of this group”
 Young Person Aged 13

“It did help make me feel better in myself thank you”
Young Female Aged 17

Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation trust were granted money from the National Foundation for Youth Music for young people to be involved in a wide range of music activities. The 2 year project was set up and delivered in partnership with Ferndene (An NHS Children and Young People’s assessment and treatment unit), Sage Gateshead, Newcastle Bridges School, Bridge North East and Northumbria University.

The project had 5 main objectives, which were:

  1. To improve quality and standards of music delivery for children and young people.
  2. To embed learning and effective practice in host and partner organisations, and share practice beyond the project.
  3. To help young people to build positive relationships with their peers through music making activities that encourage opportunities for mutual and peer support.
  4. To improve the young people's self-efficacy (i.e. self-esteem, skills, engagement, motivation, and confidence) and resilience to challenging circumstances by developing their musical interests, skills, and giving them opportunities to receive positive feedback and succeed.
  5. To improve young people's personal development and social and emotional wellbeing through their engagement in a structured programme of music making that supports longer term community participation in music.

Funding Sources:
Thanks to an £87,000 grant from the National Foundation of Youth Music (increasing to a total of £100,000 including matched and in-kind funding) the project was able to engage children and young people from two NHS inpatient units (Ferndene and Alnwood) and provide music based activities at the following locations:

  • Ferndene
  • Alnwood
  • Sage Gateshead
  • Gateshead Old Town Hall

The project delivery began in July 2014 and a total of 99 sessions took place during the life of the project, which came to an end in March 2016. In addition to the 99 core sessions offered, celebration events and performances took place at the end of each 12 to 14 week term.

The project engaged with young people in inpatient units up to the age of 18 in challenging circumstances to improve musical, social, personal and emotional development through participation in high quality music-making activities.

Sessions alternated on a weekly basis (where possible) between the Young People’s Units and community settings (as outlined above).

Description of the arts activity

The project offered a range of different opportunities such as:-

• Weekly music activity sessions taking place at Ferndene, Alnwood and Sage Gateshead.
• Summer holiday workshops
• Opportunities for young people to take part in Arts Awards and make a log book of the activities they complete.
• End of term performances for parents/guardians and carers

Activities Offered:
Across the span of the project, young people have participated in a wide range of musical activities including term-long activities such as:-

  • Gamelan & Story writing
  • Song writing & Ukuleles
  • Forming a band
  • Boomwhackers and percussion
  • Samba Drumming

Individual workshops were offered over two summers, between the term time activities. These workshops have included:-

  • DJing
  • Decks
  • Karaoke
  • Steel Pans
  • Drumming
  • Guitar
  • Singing
  • Percussion
  • Street Art
  • Loop Station
  • Music Technology
  • Xylophone

Details of the project participants

A total of 70 participants took part in sessions during the project. Young people were aged between 6 and 18 years. All participants were classed as being in Challenging Circumstances (in relation to mental health and special educational needs).

Project management

The project sessions were primarily delivered by an NHS employed Music Therapist, and a community Musician. The co-working relationship, including supervision, skill sharing and peer working has provided a consistent approach to the weekly delivery of the project, enabling confident and  positive responses  to the ever changing needs and demands of the young people.

Linking partners has taken place through steering group meetings and additional planning meetings between the health, educational, cultural, and University/research partners. Steering group meetings have been very positive and have led to a number of joint developments including an application for further funding for a hospitals music project.

Partners have developed a good working relationship both in project delivery, project oversight and steering. Partners have also identified areas where knowledge within organisations can be shared to develop and sustain effective practice. This has included sharing good practice in ‘Clinical Supervision’ from NTW to Sage Gateshead Staff, so that the needs of young people who are in hospital can be met and sessions and session content can be adjusted to meet the needs of the young people.

Evaluation methods and findings
Self-report assessments were completed by the young people during each of the project sessions, as well as staff observations.
Findings from the data collected shows positive improvement in a range of areas including:-

  • Confidence
  • Attendance
  • Motivation and participation
  • Social skills (turn taking, eye contact, appropriate body language)
  • Communication
  • Musical skills, intent and positive feedback
  • Feelings listened to and valued by others

As well as observational and self-report data collection, a PhD project at Northumbria University researching music participation and wellbeing has also been linked to the project. Young people have given their thoughts on how they feel music impacts their mental wellbeing. This project has not yet been published, but preliminary results suggest young people feel music activities have many positive effects on their mental wellbeing.

Throughout the project, feedback given by young people has indicated that they feel the project has given them new skills and has helped then develop in a number of ways, such as:-

  • Feeling more confident
  • Expressing yourself
  • Working with others
  • Trying new things
  • Sharing
  • Making personal contributions to the group
  • Saying how I feel
  • Building self-esteem

Several young people who have attended the project have been signposted on to music based activities in the community after their discharge from hospital. The project leaders are continue working towards signposting more young people at the project end, as a high number of young people have indicated that they would like to continue with activities similar to those they have experienced in the project, once they leave hospital

Newcastle Bridges School (Delivering Arts Awards)
The project ran alongside and was incorporated into the young people work towards Arts Awards. Young people’s involvement in Arts Awards has progressed and developed during the project with a total of 24 completed:

  • Bronze =   6 Submitted - May 2016
  • Explore = 6 Certified - June 2015
  • Discover = 12 Certified - May 2015

Future Plans              We expect that the publication and dissemination of PhD research conducted in this project will have further impact and support the knowledge base and understanding of the value of such projects with children receiving NHS mental health and disability services in hospitals.  

Since the completion of the Youth Music Project, The National Foundation for Youth Music has awarded funding for a new project “Singing for Health”, which will continue the strong partnership developed between NTW, SAGE, Newcastle Bridges School and Newcastle University, through the Youth Music Project. The “Singing for Health” project will introduce Choirs into hospitals during an 18 month project, and is again aimed at engaging children and young people in challenging circumstances across 3 bases; Ferndene, Alnwood and the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England