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.

R.U.F.C. & H.B.C.

All about creation this week. We start with nothing and work together to create something by focusing on goals and finding creative ways to get there.

Following on from our work of recognising the value of others and an introduction to the building blocks of Music, we created some beats and looked at how rap music uses syllables, and the relationship to phonics in school.

The facilities at the New York Stadium are great and provide a positive environment for young people to develop. It was rewarding to see young people gaining confidence, by finding their voice through our informal youth led approach.

We were also back at Highfields Boxing Club for our penultimate session. We took part in a challenge to create a full arrangement and song within the time frame of the session.

Incredible focus and team working. We produced an original song with 4 different sections, music and used audio effects to support the production. I’m really proud of the way this group have developed and also the way they have introduced new comers to the group.

As always thanks to Liz and John for allowing me to use the Boxing Club as a venue, also thanks to Jonny at Rotherham United for supporting grass roots providers such as 90minutemusic.

Highfields Boxing Club

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.

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.

Highfields Boxing Club

Exploring what we have around us and visualising what may come in the future, recognising family, pets and pastimes as inspiration and support.

We put pen to paper to creatively explore rhythms and the building blocks of Music. The group responded well to more use of the technology this week.

Sometimes my role in 90minutemusic stems from the youth work which started the journey 9 years ago. Back then some of the kids just needed another adult around as a role model, and sometimes to remind them what is good in their lives. I think we did a little of this tonight.

Thanks again to Liz for the venue, the Parents for travelling from outlying villages, and of course the young people themselves, fantastically creative!!!

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/

Morethaned

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.

The Ableton Push Controller is a tactile instrument for creating music

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.