From first steps, to becoming a leader: Oliver and Eden find their way in music with Gloucestershire Academy of Music

This blog is part 4 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.

An inspiring experience and financial support leads Oliver to take his first steps in music

Oliver was in the audience at Calton Primary School when a string quartet from Chineke!, Europe’s first black and minority ethnic orchestra, came to play in July. He saw professional musicians play violins, cellos and violas, alongside other young people, and he and his classmates were invited to take part in Gloucestershire Academy of Music (GAM)’s summer holiday ‘Try an instrument’ course. Oliver was keen, but his parents couldn’t afford to pay for this themselves, so they applied for a bursary to cover the course fee and transport. Each morning for a week, Oliver learned how to play the violin, culminating in a performance alongside GAM’s Junior Orchestra, in front of family and friends.

The experience inspired Oliver to want to continue, and so he was offered a bursary for Saturday morning violin lessons at GAM’s centre, Barbican House.  Oliver is enjoying his lessons, and when he’s ready his teacher will encourage him to join one of GAM’s ensembles through which he’ll have many opportunities to progress and advance his skills.

Leadership and professional experiences help Eden to advance his skills

Eden, has attended classes and ensembles at GAM since he was very young. He currently has viola lessons and attends Stringzone on a Monday evening, as part of the advanced ensemble, Prima Corda. Through Stringzone, Eden gets to meet other advanced musicians and has helped to establish a student-led ensemble, Discord Datcord. An important function of this group is to perform new works by young composers and a highlight for the next academic year will be a performance in the Royal Albert Hall in November as part of the Music for Youth Proms 2017.

Eden takes advantage of every opportunity available, and has played at a Severnside Composers workshop with the Carducci Quartet; with Chineke! when they performed at The King’s Theatre in Gloucester in July 2017; with Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra; and with the CBSO Youth Orchestra. His musical progress is supported by South West Music School who fund his lessons and give him opportunities to attendworkshops and ensembles. He’s also recently successfully applied to become an associate member of the management board of Gloucestershire Academy of Music, where he’ll be able to influence future provision for the next generation of young musicians.

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report

Empowering teenagers to improve their mental health through music with The Music Works

This blog is part 3 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.

Music Minds is a music-based mental health programme for teenagers, run by The Music Works. It helps young people to cope with problems such as stress, anxiety and depression; and behaviours such as self-harm and eating disorders. It does this by empowering students to consciously use music to help with self-expression, self-awareness, relaxation and mindfulness.

The programme has been piloted in two schools: Barnwood Park, and Severn Vale, and has been funded by Youth Music, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning, Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning and Make Music Gloucestershire and has been part of a national action research programme looking at how arts interventions could be commissioned as part of NHS services.

One of the important aspects of Music Minds is that is has been shaped by young people and teachers as it has progressed. Termly focus groups with students and teachers, where they share their experiences and ideas to help us to adapt and improve the programme. These sessions have shown that participants are taking conscious decisions to express or manage their feelings through music:

“I get angry really easily. With music, Iend up singing to it and it just calms me down. It is a way to vent without physically venting.”

“Music Minds has helped me. When I’m stressed I listen to music. And I put down the words that are making me feel stressed.”

“I never really lashed out on other people but I’d punch a wall until my hands were physically bleeding. I’d isolate myself and block out everyone. I’d do everything I could to punish myself. This has shown me that I’m not the only one feeling this. I have major trust issues. This has helped me talk to people more. I can take everything I’m feeling and do it in a productive way through music.”

The interim report on the first phase has shown that Music Minds has made a significant difference to young people’s mental wellbeing. 96% of participants said the programme had indirectly helped their problems; 42% said it had helped quite a lot or a great deal; 37.5% said their problems had improved.

One young person was rock bottom in self-esteem. There were serious concerns about her behaviour, and she was in the top five of students in her school with the most challenging behaviour. Now, she is no longer a concern at all and staff attribute this change to Music Minds.

They’ve said that their relationships have improved, they’re feeling better about themselves and they’re more able to cope with problems:

“I didn’t really know what people were like until Music Minds. Now listening to other people’s problems, I think, I could have been nicer, why wasn’t I nicer?”

“At the start of Music Minds I didn’t really take part, but by the end I’d grown in confidence, I found spoken word … If I feel like I’m stressed I use spoken word, and I wouldn’t have done before …. It helps.”

“It takes your mind off stress, it relieves you from, not your problems, they’restill there, it takes the ease off stressand expectations. Now we’re startingour GCSEs, there are a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure. In Music Minds you don’t need to make it A* grade, it can be whatever you want, you don’t have to do certain stuff tomake it ‘right’.”

The second phase will be completed in December 2017, with a final report due out in early 2018. The programme will then be rolled out to more schools.

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report


G15 Celebration of Success 2018

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The hundreds of people who headed for Gloucester Cathedral on Friday 22ndJune were in for a treat as the G15 Partnership put on an evening of entertainment to be remembered!

All of the 12 state funded secondary schools in Gloucester City, had come together with The Milestone School, the Gloucester and the Forest Alternative Provision School and Gloucestershire College, as they do every year, to showcase their artistic talents and to give an account of their work, through the G15 Celebration of Success.

The event opened with an address by Mr Matthew Morgan, Headmaster of Sir Thomas Rich’s School and Chair of the G15 Partnership, in which Mr Morgan recounted  a very successful year for G15. He spoke of the strength that flows from Gloucester’s secondary educational establishments working together. He told of the priority which has  been given to supporting the mental health of students, through Gloucestershire’s Clinical Commissioning Group funding a part time, primary mental health worker in each of the 15 establishments. He went on to say that G15 had a fine legacy laid down by those who have chaired the Partnership before him  and dedicated this year’s event to Mrs Amanda Chong, who had been instrumental in establishing the annual G15 Celebration of Success in her time as G15 Chair. Mrs Chong retired from Ribston Hall High School earlier this year.

Mr Morgan finished by applauding the work of the G15 Student Group. Two students from each of the G15 institutions meet once a term and decide on the priorities which they want to take forward in their two years of office. This unique group of students has been called into all sorts of activities where the voice of young people needs to be heard and it is currently playing a very active part in visioning Gloucestershire 2050 by feeding their ideas to Leadership Gloucestershire who are spearheading this campaign. Mr Morgan concluded by welcoming the three members of the G15 Student Group who would be acting as compèresto tonight’s event:  Alex Owusu (Sir Thomas Rich’s School and Chair of the G15 Student Group), Molly Heard (Beaufort Co-operative Academy) and Hannah Pandor (Ribston Hall High School).

As tradition now dictates, the event opened with The Milestone Taiko Drummers’ amazing performance which threatened to raise the roof of Gloucester Cathedral! These amazingly talented students provided a perfect and working illustration of the inclusive nature of the G15 Partnership.

Voices provided by Chosen Hill Sixth Form Choir, others by Gloucestershire College’s musical theatre students and a little bit of Cockney ‘knees up’, by High School for Girls took the show forward.

St Peter’s’ ‘Frontline’ acapella group reminded us of the imminent commemoration of the Armistice, with two World War One classics whilst Churchdown School Academy Choir used the tiered staging to the full with a rendition of an Ed Sheeran classic.

Beaufort Co-operative Choir was in fine voice with a ‘mash up’ of Andra Day and Bruno Mars and then Mr Morgan made another appearance; this time as conductor of Sir Thomas Rich’s Brass Band.

Kieran Francis, a very talented pianist in Year 9 at Henley Bank High School, gave a very polished performance of J.B.Vanhal followed swiftly by another brass band. This one from The Crypt School; expertly conducted by student Daniel Crowe.

A change of pace and mood was created by Daisy Kane in Year 7 at Ribston Hall who played the piano magnificently and sang a song which she had written herself called ‘Instruction’ whilst fellow students gave a colourful and moving interpretation in dance.

Barnwood Park Arts College Glee Club with soloist, Evie-Rose Howie, gave a beautiful account of ‘From Now on’ from The Greatest Showman followed by the rich tones of Severn Vale student Oscar Grimmett singing ‘Better than I’ from ‘Joseph’.  Fellow student, Nathan Ramage, then took to the drumkit and gave an animated and powerful performance of ‘Chop Suey’ which rocked the very stones of this historic landmark building!

What followed was a very tender and harmonious account of ‘Who am I?’ from the musical Annie from Lisa, Laura, Will and Charlotte from Gloucester Academy and then, hot on their heels, were the amazing vocals of Shanae Grant from Gloucester and the Forest Alternative Provision School singing ‘Hallelujah’.

Back to ‘The Greatest Showman’ for the penultimate performance given by Beaufort Co-operative Academy’s Staff Choir singing ‘This is Me’ to rapturous applause from the audience.

Then to the finale.

Ben O’Sullivan, of The Songwriting Charity, had worked with Beaufort Co-operative Academy students to write a song ‘Never Say Never’, which was to become the finale for the G15 Celebration of Success 2018. Ben then taught that song to each of the other 14 institutions and so, gave rise to the G15 Choir of in excess of 200 student voices, accompanied on the piano by Ashleigh Turley, aged 15, from The Milestone School who has been totally blind since birth.

The image of 15 institutions all gathered together on the tiered terrace in Gloucester Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking. A true partnership in action!

We look forward to G15 Celebration of Success 2019….

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