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.

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.

A Dynamic Contrast

HIGHFIELDS BOXING CLUB : A busy day of delivery yesterday, building numbers in the group at Highfields with some new additions. Everything we do is focused on using music as a tool for development with communication and discipline at the core. Thanks to everyone who shared on social media and the parents for travelling from outlying villages.

ME PROJECT : We began our long anticipated work with ME PROJECT last night. Our usual all action hands on session was sprinkled with open group conversation as we explored how music can be used as a tool to reduce anxiety and cope with the increasing pressures of adolescence. Big thanks to all who attended and the staff for joining in and supporting. The due diligence and meeting of professional guidelines for developing this kind of workshop is massive. Utmost respect to Kath and Paige for getting to where they are.

ATLAS PRIMARY : We were back in the centre of Town for this one. Bringing together young people from different cultures and backgrounds. The starting point for this one was chaotic and challenging for every one of us. Our training in recognising SLD’s was helpful as we steered the group into respect, communication and genuine dynamism. We do this work because we know it can be challenging, but we also trust in our understanding and experience to bring out the best in everyone and the young people grew into it with gusto and enthusiasm. Thanks again to the staff for their support.

Eve Merton Dreams Trust

We were kindly asked to support Eve’s Trust by Clynton Johnson, who told us about their incredible outreach support work for those enduring the effects of Cancer.

Our family have been personally affected and we were more than happy to join them in Bentley.

I worked with a very focused and creative group of young people who added value due to their mutual respect for each other.

After the adults had finished with the serious business of running the charity, we asked them to get hands on with the group and they didn’t let us down.

You can support Eve’s Trust through https://evestrust.co.uk and don’t forget the DRFC Legends game on 7th May 2022

Bada-Bada-Bingo

Inspired by cult TV series the Sopranos and our ongoing journey with Dementia, this is the latest offering to help reduce social isolation.

Although much of our work is with the younger population, the personal challenges of recent years have steered us to question how we can help the elderly.

Mum has been an inspiration

After she had a recent fall I have been spending more time with my Mum, exploring different artistic endeavours. Although I felt a bit guilty for not trying it before, I was surprised just how much she was getting from it and how it supported her mental health and cognition.

Bada-Bada-Bingo Is a (hopefully) less competitive mix between Bingo and Name That Tune which we will be trialing with local groups soon.

If there are any local groups to Doncaster which are interested in smashing social isolation then feel free to get in touch.

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.

Is Music a Natural Antidote?

Identity, Expression, Confidence, Self-Esteem, Conveying Emotions, Motivation, Empathy, Sociability, Release.

Which of these words is Music to you?

The natural life gift of mothers milk stimulates Oxytocin in the brain. Listening to and participating in music gives a similar pleasure response.

The potential in Music can often be overlooked, or ignored, even by professionals I have spoken to that work with music every day. It is through our research into the neural networks in the brain and findings on the benefits of breastfeeding that show us that both can provide a feel good response which aids development.

At 90 Minute Music we don’t give you something you don’t already have, we just remind you where it is.

Highfields Boxing Club

A wonderful session last night incorporating a couple of new faces. It was great to have Amanda from Doncaster College Health and Social care in attendance to support our new volunteer Harvey.

We met with Amanda after being introduced through EXPECT Youth. Amanda was interested in working with us after discussing how 90 Minute Music can help people with Health and Development. We interviewed Harvey who has ambitions to become a Paramedic in the future. He proved himself to be engaging and diligent in his work and he will be joining us in the upcoming weeks delivery at Highfields.

It was positive to have engaged with our first volunteer from the viewpoint of delivery. I discussed with Harvey how delivering 90 Minute Music can be fast-paced and utilising digital technology throughout. He recognised that there will be an opportunity to learn transferable skills that will help him when he qualifies as a Paramedic.

The young people who joined us are a credit to their families, they applied themselves to every task and took on new challenges to build on what they had achieved the week before. When I asked the group what they had remembered from the previous week?  they mumbled that they couldn’t remember but when I prompted them with the music there was an outpouring of detailed elements of what they had learnt the previous week which is a more common outcome.

Bobby from EXPECT Youth visited the session and we welcomed him to take part which he did with no hesitation. We briefly discussed Snowball the dancing Cockatoo and the science behind 90 Minute Music and how it is formulated to support young people with their development. It was fantastic to hear from him that he felt 90 Minute Music was a unique experience and he left with a greater understanding of the benefits.

Big Thanks to Liz again for the support, we will be back at Highfields Boxing Club for the next 4 weeks, it is a FREE to attend session so come and join us at 3.45pm on Wednesday afternoon.

Outwood Academy Adwick

After witnessing some real courage and revealing some genuine talent last week, I was looking forward to getting back to the academy this week. It was to be our last session before the Christmas break.

We began by experimenting with some percussion instruments, it is important to warm up your bongo’s and ensure you are comfortable, the key to playing any instrument.

We decided we would attempt to create a song in an hour, we had to collectively make quick decisions to make this happen. We took inspiration from a poster on the wall of a Volcano.

We began by going through some drum loop samples and agreed that a driving beat would be most appropriate to represent the natural power of the Volcano, we quickly recorded some beat-boxing expertly performed by one of the group. Next we split up into two groups, one of us formulating a song, while the others perfected the beat.

We had some free flowing ideas coming from the limitations we were working in, a microcosm of artistic creation. We ended up adding some Synth sounds to create a Bassline, and other sounds which we had to agree on as a group to appropriately compliment our song.

The group worked well together, we achieved our objective and it was good to see cohesion between pupils who wouldn’t have chosen to work together initially. Thanks again to the pupils and support staff, see you in the new year.