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.

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.

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.

Atlas Primary Academy

Great enthusiasm and expression at Atlas Academy in the heart of Doncaster this week with use of Microphones and Samplers. The students embraced the opportunity to use the technology. Although we bring with us state of the art equipment, we always encourage freedom of expression and in recent weeks we have introduced a shopping trolley, a tape measure and improvised drum kits into our music making.

Thanks to Neil the caretaker for his help, looking forward to seeing you all again next week.

A Touch of Class

It was a great experience to work with the pupils of Windhill Mexborough just before Christmas. Fantastic engagement and a warm welcome from the staff made it a rewarding day for all.

We were blessed to be joined by professional photographer Gavin Joynt. In recent sessions I have asked parents to help me out with taking some pictures and to be fair they haven’t done a bad job, but in my experience getting a professional in can really make a difference. Rather than go on about how much of a nice bloke he was and how he anticipated the shots without getting in the way, I’ll just show a few of his pics to give you an idea.

You can find out more about Gavin and his great work at: http://www.gavinjoynt.co.uk/

Credit to Lindsy at Active Fusion who hired Gavin who was friendly, professional and kept up the positive energy in the room which is vital for us.

How do we do it?

Simple. We engage and explore.

What does it look like?

A 5 second snip of what we do

How do we get it?

You can contact us at 90minutemusic@gmail.com

Is it really FREE?

Yes….. All we ask is that you fill in a short survey, or video interview, such as the one here….. 90minutemusic.co.uk /2022/01/21/active-fusion-winter-camps/

Active Fusion Winter Camps

Just a quick word from some of the young people who we have been working with in December

Big thanks to the children at West Road for sharing their positive views

Once again thanks to Lindsy and all the wonderful staff at Active Fusion for their support, also the staff and pupils at Kirk Sandall, Windhill, and West Road for their commitment in supporting not only a boost to the education of their children, but much needed support for local families who have been affected by the pandemic.

Highfields Boxing Club

A Wholehearted thank you to everyone who attended this evening not least Liz, who gave her time and energy to support the session. We had a full on engagement, and it was pleasing that word got out to young people in surrounding villages who made a real effort to attend. I didn’t expect our first session to delve into how music can help boxers in their future sporting endeavours, but we did touch on how the science behind both are sometimes aligned.

We had young people enjoying their first experience of acoustic drums and it was good to see people freely playing. We had a cool jam and also tried our hand at rapping as a group, which everyone showed the courage to do.

After we briefly talked about the possibilities of using the technology, we discussed as a group the potential for what we could do in the coming weeks, it is important to let these sessions be youth led and then structured to give them the most benefit in a relatively small time frame. We agreed on the direction we wanted to take, and after learning the fundamentals today, we have real scope for achieving something incredible. For those that missed the first one don’t worry, we will be here for the next five weeks every Wednesday from 3.45pm. 4/3/20

Thanks to all the people on social media who helped spread the word that this session would be Fun Free and Fantastic (you were right), also big thanks and respect to EXPECT Youth for not only supporting us in funding these sessions, but also for reaching out to our local communities in Doncaster, where provision is needed most.