Our second visit in as many weeks to the place where 90 Minute Music began 7 years ago. It began as a simple idea to engage with young people and share my knowledge from working practically with music.
Today’s session was with two small groups, some of the young people had additional needs, but for us accessibility and the opportunity for inclusion are some of our guiding principles. We managed to achieve a couple of compositions in the small frame of time that we had, along with a quick blast of a jam session.
Great attitude from the groups. Some of the participants from the previous week grew in confidence and really took control of the digital hardware. We created a pumping dance tune with sharing of ideas and live recording of vocals.
Thanks to all the young people and experienced youth leaders Ian and Carol for their support.
A joy to be asked to join Active Fusion on their Easter Camp to support the transition of young people into secondary education.
Campsmount Academy is a wonderful place to learn, set in the countryside and has been reborn and rebuilt after the tragedy of fire struck a few years ago. As I was driving up, there was a pheasant crossing the road in front of me that had made its way from the adjacent farmland. It feels spacious and the colossal sports hall was large enough to accommodate safely distanced activities.
There were around 40 young people taking part and were split into 4 groups to ensure they all had a chance to experience not only 90 Minute Music, but also Karate, and sports-based activities delivered by trained professionals.
We only had 45 Minutes with each group, so I decided to make it count. As we got through so much, so quickly, I am just going to list the elements that we shared.
Singing – Call and answer Song Form and Discussed instrumentation. Discussed feelings around music. Discussed SLD’s and where music fits in. Explored learning exercises. Tried out new technology and Acoustic instruments. Played along as a group. Understood the idea of chopping up a beat. Recorded and played back audio and evaluated the sound and levels. Experimented with sound design. Beat Making. Electro acoustic jam.
Aside of the practical session with 100% engagement, the real value was bringing together young people who were from different schools and were only introduced as a result of this opportunity. After the Social exclusion of the last year due to Covid-19 this was a vital resource for the young people involved.
Thanks to Luke for accommodating us and for joining in when I invited him to do so. He helped us open a discussion around Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties, in which we recognised as a group that the courage to speak openly in front of your peers is not to be taken for granted.
We powered through many confidence building, anxiety quashing, education enhancing exercises today. Thanks to all the young people for attending, and big thanks to Active Fusion and The Barrier Buster Fund for funding us.
We have gratefully received support via the Barrier Buster fund from DMBC and Well Doncaster. It was critical that we received this funding to continue our good work with the often-disadvantaged young people of Doncaster.
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The first in our series of interviews with professional musicians is with Mark Ellis. Mark was in the same year at School and we both played for the School team. I had heard that Mark had gone on to be a professional musician, so I contacted him to ask if he would like to speak about his journey. Mark is as humble as he ever was and although he has played with some of the real icons of modern music, he shares the message that anyone can be musical and once it is there, it is a light that never goes out.
To hear about his near-death experience, opening night at Café Mambo in Ibiza and a real down to earth conversation about the life of a pro musician click below.
Feel free to forward the first 3 minutes as it is just us getting acquainted. I thought my first Podcast interview was going to present me as a Micheal Parkinson or a Jonathon Ross. I think I have a way to go before I reach those dizzy heights, nevertheless it was really enlightening to hear what Mark had to say.
Morethaned are an Alternative Provision who provide an attachment and trauma aware provision for young people who have become disengaged with mainstream education.
Their focus is on improving mental health and building resilience through strong relationships and learning essential skills.
After speaking with a senior member of staff, we decided that the focus would be on engagement and supporting essential skills. Over the course of the week we worked in small groups and sometimes one on one.
We worked on sound design and creating our own instruments using Ableton Live. The engagement was immediate, and the levels of concentration shown by the young people were incredible. We incorporated elements of English as pupils wrote down Rap lyrics to go with the Hip Hop style music we created.
We discussed with some of the students the opportunity of producing a track, after discussing which musical genres they listened to, such as Donk, Grime and mainstream Pop. The idea we had was to eventually release a track on to one of the digital music platforms like Soundcloud or collaborating with a local artist to do so. The aiming high element of essential skills can be a difficult one to impart on to disengaged young people, but they have an awareness of the commercial elements of music, so it is a good motivator.
It was great to see the young people benefiting from our unique approach, they were respectful, hard-working, intelligent, and although I could see how they didn’t fit well with mainstream education, they have a lot to offer and I wish them well in the future.
The feedback from staff was that that these students don’t tend to engage quickly in new activities, however 90 Minute Music received 100% engagement from the students who were invited to take part.
It is becoming a familiar story to us at 90 Minute Music, but this positive feedback is always good to hear. We were especially grateful to the staff, who were always on hand to offer support, and thanks to Karen for giving us the opportunity to play our part in supporting a positive future for these young people and their families.
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.