Working alongside Young People in Central Doncaster
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”
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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 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 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.
‘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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back to School week and another great turn out. As always it is great to have young people from the local area attend. I must give credit to the parents travelling from Adwick and as far away as Warmsworth to get their children to our sessions.
I think we were all feeling the back to school blues this week. Good to see some new faces that told us that if we weren’t there, then they would be just kicking around on the streets.
When we were younger kicking around on the streets was Hide and Seek, British Bulldog, Double Dutch and of course Football. It is a different world now and we are proud to play our part in providing safe activities for young people to do. Thanks as ever to Liz for providing the venue.
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.
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.