16 Aug 2016

Making Music with NYCC Virtual School’s Young People

Photo credit: Chris Powls/Richmond Jam

Jo Gibson, Music Leader and PhD candidate for the International Centre for Community Music (ICCM) at York St John University, reflects on a 3-day summer school, which forms part of her research.

During the first week of August, 9 young people from across North Yorkshire met for the first time to create new music at The Forum Theatre in Northallerton. Across a jam-packed three days, the young people came together with support workers from NYCC’s Virtual School and formed a brand new band. The group named themselves The First Order, and what a brilliant band they were!

What did we do…

In just three days The First Order composed their own lyrics, melodies and monstrously loud beats - creating 3 new tracks, which they performed in front of an audience of family and friends.

As most of the group had never met before, we began the 3 days by getting to know each other through games and group conversation – with everyone in the group having a chance to say what they wanted to do during the project. Most of the group wanted to try something new, perform their own music and have a go on the impressive kit! Thanks to NYMAZ and Connecting Youth Culture we had a good selection of electronic guitars, bass, microphones, keyboard and drum kit to play with.

The first track that the group created was Bang-Strum! This track was aptly titled as it involved a whole lot of loud drum banging accompanied by the strumming of heavy guitars. Inspired by the mighty sound in the rehearsal room, it was time for the girls to get loud on the drums with Girls Out Loud! Here is a snippet of their lyrics:

Wanting to be noticed,
Always want a crowd,
Attention! To be listened to,
I want to be loud!

And loud they were! Across the 3 days, it was so wonderful to see the young peoples’ commitment to music-making, teamwork, willingness to collaborate and ‘can-do’ attitude – it should be noted that many of the young people had not played instruments before. Their efforts were made all the better by the brilliant NYCC Virtual School team who joined in with all the activities – it was so great to see the support workers grooving as they played instruments too! 

You can listen to the music created by The First Order here.

As well as producing some great music, this project formed part of a PhD pilot practice-as-research study undertaken by project facilitator Jo Gibson. Jo is a musician and PhD candidate for the International Centre for Community Music at York St John University, and she was looking to explore group music-making in community settings with NYCC Virtual School’s young people and social workers. From this first pilot, Jo has learnt a lot and is now looking at the initial findings. She will continue to connect with NYMAZ and NYCC as her research journey unfolds – watch this space!

Thoughts from the music-makers…

“What was good was being able to perform in front of everyone, because I hadn’t done that before” (young person).

“I enjoyed all of it … I enjoyed every single second of it…” (young person).

“What I’m glad about is that I get to do my skills again on drums” (young person).

“…Well half the people I didn’t know who were like, actually like, really nice to me and they were like… they all had a smile on their face literally like every second here” (young person).

“I think it’s been brilliant. I think making music is about collaboration and respect for each other - and I think some people have had their differences, but they have all respected each other enough to listen to each other’s ideas and collaborate together and learn from each other” (NYCC social worker).

“It’s brilliant and I am so proud of you and I would totally play in a band with you again” (NYCC social worker).

“Is there one on next year? … Because if there is I’m definitely coming” (young person).

Thoughts from the audience…

“It was so lovely to see the new friends many young people made, their confidence grow, the love for music and their desire to have music lessons when they start back to school in September. To have carers in tears with pride is lovely! To see the shy ones be eager to perform in front of them, is awesome” (NYCC staff member).

After the performance the audience enjoyed a cup of tea in the performance space whilst the band went next door for a quick debrief. At this point one of the NYCC social workers commented; “I’m just thinking about what all the parents are saying next door …’oh did they really write all of those lyrics on their own?... Did they really not know how to play those instruments when they first arrived?’ Lots of high praise next door.”

With thanks
Jo would like to take this opportunity to thank NYMAZ and NYCC Virtual School for their support of this project – from design to reflection. Thank you to NYMAZ for your generous support – for hiring great spaces to make music in at The Forum Theatre, hiring professional standard instruments for our new musicians and for your support from the initial project planning stages onwards. Thank you also to NYCC Virtual School for supporting this project from the onset and for all of the team’s overwhelming backing and willingness to say – yes!

If you would like to be part of the community music research conversation, come along to the ICCM’s Community Music Student Research Symposium on Monday 14 November, at York St John University.

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Tags | Challenging circumstances | Music projects

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