Music In Devon Initiative


From the blog

Partnership Music Projects

MIDI have run two highly successful music-making projects within supported housing schemes for vulnerable young people in Devon during 2017 and 2018.

The first was at the Amber Foundation in Chawleigh, Mid Devon. This music programme was funded by Youth Music and enabled a music rehearsal and workshop studio to be created on the premises at Ashley Court. The programme included weekly group workshop sessions and 1:2:1 lessons in guitar, drums, keyboards, loop pedal, rapping, DJing, music production (using Ableton Live), lyric writing, songwriting, and playing together as a band.

MIDI’s team of ace freelance music leaders also led several one-off workshops in Taiko drumming, African drumming, harmony singing, beatboxing, music industry careers, plus much more! Participants were given the opportunity to record five of the songs they had written at a professional recording studio (Sound Gallery Studios), as well as performance opportunities at various events. Please click below to hear some of the tracks written and performed by the residents.

Tutors and music leaders included: Nick Hall (Dakar Audio Club / Director of MIDI); Tom Rosenbloom (Dakar Audio Club / Electric Spank); Sam Walker (Samantics); Jay McAllister (Iller Instinct); Sam Jones (Jam Scones); Maz Totterdell (Mazrah); Stuart Lambert (University of Westminster lecturer in Music Business studies); Allan Kerr (Shumba Arts); Eleanor Spencer (MIDI) and Marie Belsten (Director of MIDI).

As a result of the Amber music project, 10 young people were able to complete their Bronze Arts Award – for many of them this was their first formal qualification.

Though the funding from Youth Music has now expired, the Amber Foundation are keen to continue their partnership with MIDI to deliver regular music-making activities for its residents, and there are even plans afoot to build a recording studio on the premises, thanks to a donation from the Jordan Trust. The studio may also become available for use by local musicians in time, helping to strengthen links with the community.

The second project took place at Exeter Foyer, a housing scheme for vulnerable 18-25 year olds. One of the Exeter Foyer residents conceived the project and was able to secure £300 from O2’s Go Think Big fund to kickstart it. DAISI contributed further funding to enable the project to continue past the first few sessions. The same resident also managed the project with the support of a member of staff at the Foyer, and went on to undertake his Silver Arts Award as a result of the project.

Participants were assisted in lyric writing, rapping, looping, guitar, bass guitar, and vocal delivery by Samantics, Nick Hall, Paul Bateman and Mazrah, to enable them to write and perform three original songs, one of which was recorded at Sound Gallery Studios. Please click below to hear one of these songs.

It is clear from the overwhelmingly positive feedback and general response to these projects from the young people involved, that music-making really can and does motivate and empower them, enabling them to learn lots of new, transferable skills. Through lyric writing in particular, young people who have come from challenging backgrounds – which in many cases leads to chaotic lives and even homelessness – have been able to express themselves openly for the first time in their lives. They have been able to transform their thoughts about negative experiences through the creative process of music-making, enabling them to feel much more positive about their lives, their abilities, and their futures.

Here is a selection of comments from some of the young people who took part in these projects:

Great teachers! It has given me something to do and focus on. If it was not for this project, I would never have played guitar. It’s good to be creative.

Amazing session! Using my voice to create a whole song was a great ego boost. My vocals are getting a lot better. The music session made the day a lot more positive and cheered me up. Fun sesh!

The thing I enjoyed most about today’s session was getting things off my chest

The music lesson has taken my mind away from everything.

It was good to get things out of my head, and to do something different. The session has helped me to get stuff out, and not hold negatives in. I’m finding out more about myself as my lyrics change focus.

In future, I want to ensure I have learnt the last session’s stuff, then progress. I just need to practice.

I enjoyed learning the basic beat. It was a challenge but I feel more confident after the lesson. I enjoyed learning a new thing.

It wasn’t just learning music, it was learning how to control emotions. If you get upset, you can just transfer that into the creative process. It mentally stimulates the positive side of your brain so you don’t feel anxious. Creativity takes your mind off unpleasant thoughts.

It’s really cheered me up. I am happy to have finished my own song. We need to start practicing what we’ve written, ready to record. This has made me happy today, after an early start which made me angry.

The best thing about today’s session was learning a Beatles song. It feels nice to do well.

This has been the most positive thing I could have done today after the morning I’ve had.

I found the 1:2:1 amazing! Really good fun and learnt a lot. Looking forward to next week and carrying on learning.

I wanted to thank you so much for the opportunity, and the use of the keyboard has enabled me to write 14 songs which have been uploaded to the reverb nation site.

My hand / eye co-ordination needs improvement but I’m eager and ready to learn more. Not as simple as first thought, but I really enjoyed myself. Can’t wait to do it again next week 😊

It’s good to focus on the positives in life and make music to show it.

Happy that I’ve got more parts and more to learn.

Feel good that we’ve got so much done. Finished a track. Writing it down helps in a way.

I feel more confident with singing now. I look forward to Mondays now!

Enjoyed the session, I have always wanted to write lyrics in the past but struggled to get the words out but this has really helped. You made me feel calm and able to talk about that, usually I hate singing in front of people but I felt relaxed enough to do so.

Pleased we’ve got a lot done. Helped me get out some of my frustrations. Given me a bit more clarity and helped me with reality.

Felt all over the place this morning but this has brought me back up. Good to have a focus on a Monday.

You’ve made me push myself to be more honest in my lyrics and say something with meaning. These sessions and you have become really inspirational and I want to keep going.

I’m Feeling happy that we’ve got the song to such a good place, I am a perfectionist and wanted it to be perfect. Feeling really positive about the song.

Absolutely amazing session, we’ve learned something and you’ve cheered us all up. I want to do this every week.

Such an amazing session. I really felt I’ve learned something and I’m inspired to do more.

Writing thoughts into lyrics helps me forget about bad stuff. I was in a low mood today but the session helped me forget and feel positive.

If you work with an organisation seeking to run a music project and need help with delivery, please contact us to discuss potential partnership possibilities.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.