90 Minute Music Case Study

Working alongside Young People in Central Doncaster

Introduction

After Speaking with Fran Lightfoot of Astrea Academies, we became aware of a need to help young people in the most disadvantaged area of Doncaster, which is as it stands is the 2nd most disadvantaged area in the country. The School is host to 24 different nationalities and is very culturally diverse.

We worked with a group of 5 Young people age 8 years in the form of an after-school club. They were chosen specifically as they were identified as in need of additional support.

We joined them for six weeks for what they affectionately called “Music Club”

Foundation

On day one It was obvious that there were Children with ADHD or ADD or possibly mild ASD. There was a huge difficulty in focusing and little respect for the feelings of others, they all seemed to jostle and fight when they wanted something, rather than speaking and listening. The young people engaged well, but it was clear that they needed not only our support, but an awareness of the support they were able to offer each other.

Addressing challenges

One of the challenges when presented with a group containing individuals with a hyper focus is getting them to understand that the others in the group can add value to them.

We adopt an incredibly simple method of achieving this through simple counting beats and using our “speak to me session”

We used Acoustic instruments and actively explored the building blocks of music, including Tempo, Dynamics and Melody.

The teachers came in during the second session and took photographs and commented that good progress was being made.

What we did

After 6 weeks of working together, we played together as a band, used Synthesizers and Samplers. We explored world music from India, South America and Africa, taking the opportunity to play genuine instruments from those areas.

We created music from things we had found (Including a shopping trolley and a Tape measure) We used our voices creatively and sang. We used microphones, created DJ mash-ups, and free-styled versions of songs that the children knew. We also composed beats and simple melodies which we recorded.

Data Collection

Collecting data for these young people had to be empirical and qualitative in its nature. I conducted short video interviews which although weren’t in depth, they showed some of the character of the children. We found it useful to collect valuable feedback from the class teachers (below)

What the teachers said about 90 Minute Music.

Over the course of the music sessions, Simon has been fantastic. He has been understanding of the different needs and cultural issues that our school faces. He has also had brilliant communication with not only me but with the children and created a strong bond with them. Each child that has attended has progressed in themselves. (We have added in italic our own 90 Minute Music notes regarding each child)

What the teachers said about the Young Peoples development

GM –

He is a shy young boy who wants attention from all adults he comes into contact with. Over the music sessions he has become more resilient and understanding of other people’s thoughts and feelings. GM has also shown a love for music and asks every day ‘When is music club?’- GM has started to communicate with other people that he wouldn’t normally, and is using vocabulary that he has heard from adult interaction. GMs mum has also expressed how happy she is that GM has found a love and talent for something.

GM was initially shy, but quickly engaged and was very stimulated by the music equipment. He had a clear picture in his mind of how the music should sound and managed to convey it well. He had a strong will for doing things his way and his way only, which we had to work on. He was always happy to join us and after a couple of incidents of pushing and pulling, he showed increasing respect for other members of the group.

BG-

Before BG started music club he had difficulty with concentration and staying in his seat. Since music club has started, he has become more focused in class and will sit down for a longer period of time. This is a big improvement for him. BG has had an improved attitude and behaviour towards learning and school.

(BG) Has really made the most tangible progress, he has a passionate interest in using synthesizers to sculpt sounds and shows great communication skills and empathy. He has taken on a Zen like calmness and shows a lot more patience with others in the group

AR-

AR has poor attendance in school. Since the music club, AR has increased his attendance and has become excited to come to school for music club. AR also struggles with anger. Since the club, he has become calm and able to communicate how he is feeling and when he needs time to calm down.

(AR) Initially Seemed very competitive and reflected a negative attitude towards the only girl in the group. After dealing with a couple of small incidents he became more relaxed and apologised to the others. He showed a more compassionate side in the later sessions and was an enthusiastic member of the group.

DD-

DD has low self-esteem and confidence. The club and Simon have been able to build on this and have welcomed her with open arms. DD is now smiling a lot more and is willing to talk to a mixture of different people that she comes into contact with. This has also impacted her communication.

(DD) was timid and quiet at the beginning, she gave the impression that she needed an environment which was less chaotic and competitive than the one in which we started, we were able to offer that, she thrived, became more talkative and was always smiling.

TS-

TS has struggled with communication and interaction with other peers. Since going to the club he has started to communicate with peers in his class and some from other classes. He has also started to use stronger vocabulary when interacting with adults. We have seen an increase in his participation in conversations and class activities.

(TS) began quite introverted and felt uncomfortable engaging in the hustle and bustle of the first session. He went on to create his own space within the group and favoured the log-drum which is a type of marimba. Using the instruments allowed him to find a voice.

Quotes:

‘I love using the drums and making loud noises’ AR

‘The equipment is brilliant. I want to do more music with Simon.’ BG

‘Making new sounds is great. I like using all the buttons and microphone.’ GM

Impact

The impact after 6 weekly sessions has been truly life changing for these young people. They communicate better, are more resilient, they have a real love of music, and they flourished in an environment where they didn’t have to fight back or bunker down, giving them healthier routes to conflict resolution.

Although it wasn’t a typical teaching environment, for these children it was a catalyst for learning and development. The children were able to retain a lot of the things we did in previous weeks and were always repeating the one rule of 90 Minute Music “We don’t waste our time

All the children wanted to do more 90 Minute Music and we have discussed with teachers the possibility of doing this as they would like to roll it out across the School.

Thanks to our funders.

The impact of this investment goes far beyond positively changing the lives of the young people. It transcends to a more positive family life and has led to integrating and celebration of cultural differences creating stronger more resilient communities.

As a company the funding has offered us an opportunity to be sustainable after coming through the Covid-19 Pandemic. Over the past year we have built capacity supporting over 1700 young people.

Thanks again to Isla Foundation and Well Doncaster.

Thanks to the Staff at Astrea Atlas Primary for inviting us into their School and for making us feel welcome.

Machines: Better or Worse?

For us technology has enabled us to do what we love every day. Supporting young people with their development while working creatively with music.

But has the development of technology made things worse? Do we have shorter attention spans? Are we becoming more anxious? Is anybody truly bored anymore?

Our philosophy in 90 Minute Music comes from researching how humans utilise technology and exploring how we can add value in terms of sociability and building resilience.

There is often a perceived conflict between us and technology especially when it goes wrong.

When technology fails

In our experience some young people are more likely to be enthusiastic about engaging with technology than each other.

We use this to our advantage by using the technology to focus on the things that technology has begun to erode. We share our knowledge of music, production and the world of DJing to identify how we can synergise groups of individuals by learning about their primary needs.

We have supported thousands of young people with their development by identifying areas of support and quickly putting that support in place through our training and expertise.

Although our aims are to support health and development, the nature of our work is having fun and sharing each others qualities.

I didn’t like 90 Minute Music, I loved it.

C. B. Age 10 Doncaster

We will be at Myplace Bentley from 6.00pm on Wednesday 8th of June.

Norbreck Communal Hall Askern from 5.00pm on Thursday 9th of June.

Bullcroft Memorial Hall from 7.15pm on Thursday the 9th of June.

Follow us on Facebook to find out when and where you can access free sessions for young people.

Leaving, Breathing, and Roads to Achieving.

Our last week of delivery in Highfields this week. We have learnt about Djing, Production and have discussed many issues Including Identity, Diversity, Home and Family, War, Friendship and of course Sport. Many came from Outlying villages to join us as many do to receive the top class Boxing training and experience of John and Liz Loosemore. The young people have been wide ranging in age, but the culture of respect and communication added value to all. I can’t wait to come back and work with you again, it has been a pleasure.

Great Characters who provided plenty of laughs and support.

We began our long anticipated work in Askern this week. Norbreck Communal Hall is the venue and we’ll be there every Thursday from 5.00pm till 6.30pm. We had good attendance, but we still have capacity for more to join. We worked on aspects of communication and I spoke about how breathing can be useful when playing together in a group. The young people spoke about how music may fit in with tribal culture, which is the basis of all our cultural past. Well done to everyone from 17 all the way down to the youngest, who showed that music is valuable, as a mechanism of bringing us together. There is much more to it of course and I look forward to sharing it with you in the coming weeks.

Pleased to play a small part in the growing number of activities in Askern

Our 2nd new venue this week was Bullcroft Memorial Hall where we will be at 7.15pm every Thursday. We had a small group attending, but they had to leave early as they were aged 11 and an 8.45pm finish is late. There may be an idea of splitting into an older and younger group, we will see who joins us next week and decide. We have had further interest over the last few days, it would be great to see you join us next Thursday.

Industry Standard Equipment isn’t always available to young people.

I met a group of older lads who were passing outside, some were into Djing and knew one of the local MC’s I have been working with, so I told them to check the website because even though they were 17 and older than our usual participants I would not want them to miss the opportunities that we can offer through employment opportunities and further training through our partner organisations like Higher Rhythm.

Thanks to John and Liz at Highfields. Isiasha at Norbreck and Tracy at Bullcroft for Kindly proving the venues.

Massive thanks to Well Doncaster and DMBC for providing funding and sharing support through Doncaster Chamber and the Community Wealth Builder.

Free Music Sessions starting 28th of April!!!

ASKERN NORBRECK CENTRE EVERY WEEK FOR 6 WEEKS. Starts 28th of April
BULLCROFT Memorial Hall Limited places. Starts 28th of April 7.15pm

Book online via the Contact us page for Free Electroacoustic Music sessions.

We focus on health and development and how music can play a part in both. We are supported by Welldoncaster in partnership with DMBC.

We hold the UK Youth quality mark for working with young people.

Active Fusion Easter Camps 2022

Awesome to be asked to return to support Active Fusion on their Easter camps across Doncaster. We delivered to over 350 young people and it was personally rewarding to hear some, who I had worked with last summer relaying information which they had retained from our previous session.

We gave the young people with previous experience a chance to pass on their knowledge, which empowers them and supports confidence building, it was also good to see the Active Fusion staff rewarding this supportive behaviour.

We worked on communication, discipline and explored music from India and South America. 100% engagement. Well done to all who took Part, special thanks to the staff and volunteers who got hands on to make this project successful.

Rotherham United Community Trust

Wonderful to be welcomed back to support the young people of Rotherham. We were not short on energy and enthusiasm today.

The facilities are in place at the New York Stadium to support development of the health and wellbeing of the local community for years to come.

We will be back on April the 20th. Thanks to Jonny for inviting us and Ant and Zoe for making sure we were looked after.

A busy couple of weeks!!!!

It was great to have 5 new faces to add to the growing group at Highfields this week. Word is getting round about the great work we are doing in our local communities and we will begin Work in Carcroft, Askern and Bentley soon.

We have been using Pro DJ equipment for the last couple of weeks, but last night we began working on music which we will be uploading to Soundcloud, which will give a platform for sharing our productions.

We hope to showcase the amazing work being presented by young people in our local area and hopefully one day bring all our participants together in one venue to celebrate what we have achieved.

DJ Session at Highfields Boxing Club

We got our hands on professional DJ equipment tonight. I am proud to say that every single one of the group where bang on with their timing and execution of DJ mixing, which comes from the uniquely simple way we look at music.

Rather than showing the group the way that I DJ, I took a leaf out of DJ Methodz book. He is a Hull based DJ who I had the pleasure of speaking with last week. He has recognised the importance of giving young people the room to find their own way to be creative, with a relevance to them. Check out my interview with him by copying the link here:-

We also took turns in speaking about our favourite artists in front of the group, as much to build confidence as to share our musical interests.

Thanks to Liz for once again providing a hub for community activities in Highfields, and thanks to DMBC in partnership with Well Doncaster for providing funding for the development of our young people, who will be the custodians of the borough when we are no longer here.

Astrea Atlas Primary Academy

Atlas has a feel of an inner city School and the children are descendants of over 20 different nationalities. The session really highlighted how levels of focus and pace of learning are individual to every person.

In a few weeks it has been good to see the pupils from different classes growing together socially and looking forward to sharing each others company.

Confidence is building within the group and there gave been great leaps forward in terms of respecting the value of others, and their contribution to the group.

Looking forward to our next session, see you on Thursday.

Exploring Diversity and Music from around the World

Pictured above is The War Memorial to the men and women of Highfields, it is a poignant feature as you enter the village.

A lasting impression was made on me after a school trip visiting the vast war cemeteries in Normandy, my view on remembrance is simple. We should remember, and understand that war is what happens when communication and respect are devalued.

The first things we learn in 90 Minute Music are the dynamic value and values of communication and respect.

This week we looked at music from around the world, acknowledging our own cultural heritage and spoke about how language and music are learnt together.

We got our hands on a Mbira and Djemba from Africa. A Tabla from India and explored the musical elements that reflect the cultures.

We also used this Guiro (vase) I found at our local charity shop for a pound, so keep your eyes open for a bargain. Thanks to everyone for attending on a wet, cold miserable night

These young people are a credit to their families and are showing the confidence and skills which will transfer to their daily lives to support health, resilience and opportunities for progression.