Music Education

GEMARTS EAST BY NORTH EAST PT2

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts, providing opportunities for young people from diverse communities to come together and make music.  The project has already enabled over 190 young people to develop and share their compositions and performance skills in a wide range of genres, while addressing issues relevant to their lives, developing life skills and achieving Arts Award.

In addition, GemArts has further diversified the workforce of music practitioners, and East by North East offers training and development to ensure that creativity and diversity is thriving in the North East!

To celebrate the project we’ve asked some of our music leaders to share their thoughts on East by North East, their own development, and the groups they worked with. Read on for our second blog post.

GemArts East by North East Blog by Izzy Finch, Music Leader 

In 2016 I became one of the musicians for the GemArts project East by North East (EbNE), working with young women aged 13-16 from the Czech and Roma communities in the West End of Newcastle. When we first began our weekly sessions at CHAT Trust, the group were shy and their conversational English was emerging. This meant that, without interpreters at the sessions, we initially found communication problematic with regard to expectations and outcomes for the project.

Over the course of the year, we began exploring different genres of music and the girls began singing. This developed into rapping and gradually evolved into writing their own material and performing locally in both their heritage language and in English. Some of the issues we encountered early on included communication barriers, low self-esteem, social and gender related tensions and even tensions between our project and the perceptions of the school the young women attended.

There was one session where one of the young women told me that she had fallen behind with homework and was struggling at school. Having recently discovered that she was unable to read or write I had wondered how she would be managing at school and if she was accessing support. We stayed behind and worked on some of her assignments and discussed things she could ask her teachers about. This was a significant moment for me, in helping me to appreciate how a safe, creative space enabled the development of BAMER women who joined our project completely unable or unwilling to engage with seemingly inaccessible tasks or assignments that demanded a grasp of English to writing and performing original material and developing their ability to articulate their hopes, fears and aspirations within the group. Without the support of interpreting staff, the two factors that played the most significant role in empowering the young women were trust and time. By the time the project drew to a close, all of the young people were demonstrating engagement and the ability to take creative risks.

17553924_10154549287012613_8637290395246012482_n[1]Young women take part in a session at CHAT Trust

Forming a band and attending regular rehearsal and workshops was challenging for the group at first as it required commitment, determination and practice. All the young women obtained their bronze Arts Award which was a huge achievement and for many, their first experience of achieving any form of accreditation.

17757355_10154549286992613_7043715450843202856_n[1]Young people at CHAT Trust achieve their Bronze Arts Awards

The final celebration event took place at Sage Gateshead, and was a vibrant celebration involving participants from a wide representation of heritage and culture across the EBNE projects in the city.

This project serves as a good example of how, as defined in The Creative Case for Diversity, “experimentation leads to changes.” In offering young people the chance to express themselves in an inclusive space, and by using this experience to initiate creativity and original compositions, we learned that all of the participants experienced feelings of enhanced self-esteem and of a future where they had skills and strengths they didn’t know existed. “ Now I know girls can rap just as good as the boys. I didn’t think I could write a song that would sound good. I’m always going to love performing now.” –  Vanessa

In 2005, I had been invited to join a refugee integration project based in Newcastle. Mongrel UK was issue-based music and theatre exploring concepts of identity, migration and social justice. I was a 13 year old participant, yet I felt was being nurtured and mentored by strong female role models. I feel I was one of the first people to experience the grassroots evolution from participant to practitioner. Many of my professional values were shaped at that time and I feel that I experienced first-hand what a positive impact involvement in projects like EBNE can have on a young person. I have this experience at the forefront of my practice with all of the groups I work with, particularly young BAMER women, with whom I have an affinity.

LTC Performance 1000px

Life Transformation Church band perform at EbNE celebration event at Sage Gateshead

It is clear that the experience of the young person is at the centre of the project when GemArts initiates a project like this one, but what isn’t that obvious on the surface is how the journey of arts practitioners is equally important. We are actively encouraged to reflect upon and document our own learning and journey. My learning and observations have been centred around the themes of culture, heritage, gender, perception and diversity. Although my musical knowledge and experience is clearly valued, there is a finer less tangible aspect to projects like EBNE that is centred around celebrating and promoting not only the diversity that exists within communities but also that within the practitioners who are matched to deliver the programmes.

Gem Arts partner musicians who have different but compatible strengths. Working relationships must evolve to make the most of competencies and skills we have between us and what this ultimately brings to the workforce is adaptive resilience. There have been occasions where I have felt that my co-workers have had a stronger skill set for a specific young person or circumstance, but there is always the opportunity for me to support and restore the balance within another situation.

I am so proud of the individual journeys of self-expression as well as the incredible creative outcomes that demonstrate how valuable projects like East by North East are. Beyond the creative and musical end products, we have opportunities to develop self-belief, affirmation of cultural identity and values and on a very basic level… happiness!

Gem Arts develop and build pride in identity in often marginalised groups within the North East. On a personal level, my involvement in this project has made me realise how passionate I feel about working with young women; confronting and challenging negative cultural stereotypes.

If you are interested in the project please contact GemArts – info@gemarts.org

Izzy Finch, EBNE Music Leader

Watch our East by North East 2017 film here

GemArts East by North East 2017 from GemArts on Vimeo.

 

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GEMARTS EAST BY NORTH EAST PT 1

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts, providing opportunities for young people from diverse communities to come together and make music.  The project has already enabled over 190 young people to develop and share their compositions and performance skills in a wide range of genres, while addressing issues relevant to their lives, developing life skills and achieving Arts Award.

In addition, GemArts has further diversified the workforce of music practitioners, and East by North East offers training and development to ensure that creativity and diversity is thriving in the North East!

To celebrate the project we’ve asked some of our music leaders to share their thoughts on East by North East, their own development, and the groups they worked with. Read on for our first blog post.

GemArts East by North East Blog by Adam Cogdon, Music Leader

East By North East is a Youth Music funded project that brings together young people, and a staff team, from diverse backgrounds, celebrating different cultures and musical genres.  The music sessions allow us to explore different tastes and develop skills in music and to build confidence together.

Led by GemArts, in partnership with Sage Gateshead and community partners across Newcastle, the project works with a hugely varied and strong team. From the beginning East By North Easy aimed to pair up more experienced music leaders with talented emerging practitioners, to develop and build a diverse resource of delivery staff, spanning creative and cultural diversity as well as musical genres.  From what we learned in the first phase of East by North East, we were able to also expand the project in 2016 to include female groups at many of the centres, this in turn meant we could offer more opportunities to female music leaders to run sessions.

The project partners include:

CHAT Trust (Girls & Boys sessions) – Fenham

North Benwell Youth Project (Girls & Boys sessions) – Benwell

Life Transformational Church (Mixed session) – Fenham

Pottery Bank Pupil Referral Centre (Mixed Session) – Walker

West Walker Family Centre (Mixed Session) – West Walker

Excelsior Academy (Mixed Session) – Scotswood

Success4All (Mixed Group) – Fenham

Recent highlights of the project:

The Mega Boyz group from North Benwell Youth Project were asked to perform at a Holocaust memorial day focusing on the forgotten Czech and Roma people who died.  The young people’s behaviour was excellent and they did a great performance of the Song ‘Mega Boyz Swag’ I was very proud of them.

There was also a great performance from ‘Gipsy Lipstick’ who attend the Girls session at CHAT Trust.  They were quite nervous as it was only their 2nd or 3rd time performing, but I thought they did extremely well! The Lads Band also performed playing their instruments and singing some traditional Czech music.  They were very well rehearsed and sounded very professional.  Both groups were also asked to perform at the same venue a few weeks later at a health awareness day.

CHAT boys band performance  CHAT Boys Band performing

We recently launched a new session as part of the project working with West Walker Family centre, they are referred young people who need a bit of extra support and they take them to various activities.  Young people are already taking part in Djing, Music production and Guitar.  GemArts was chosen to pilot a new Arts Award scheme, called ‘Discover Arts Award in a day’, which we are delivering with the new East by North East group to see if it is something we can use across the whole project.

We have been making great progress at Pottery Bank PRU where traditionally we struggled to get young people to engage and perform. One young lad who had never tried Grime style MCing before but was keen to try it, has been supported by East by North East music leaders to write his own lyrics about his area and the things that go on.  Some of the other group members helped to make the backing music and the Song sounds awesome!  It has really inspired a lot of the group to see what is possible when you try, so I am really pleased with this piece of work.

We also started a new session at Life Transformational Church in the West End, which began in Jan 2017. The participants are mixed gender and range from 2 year olds to teenagers.  The participants are spilt into younger and older groups, each focus on developing Band skills and learning how to play different instruments.

LT Church 1  Life Transformational Church

The Project works with many young people from different backgrounds including, Slovak, Roma, Czech and African.  As well as developing and encouraging musical development the project has also had a positive effect on the participants’ English skills both spoken and written

During the last few months the sessions in the project are now gearing up for the Final Celebration event at Sage Gateshead (12th and 13th April 2017). This is a two day event that celebrates everything achieved throughout the project and brings all the young people from different areas of the city together to make new friends and share their achievements.  Day one will be a day of fun arts based workshops in a different vain from their regular sessions, including Graffiti Arts, Boom Dang group drumming, rehearsal time and other music sessions.  Day two will be an evening performance in the fantastic Sage 2 Hall.  We hosted a similar event in 2015 at the end of the first phase of the project, and it was amazing! The event was well attended by families, friends, partner organisations and local councillors, who all witnessed an exceptional evening of musical talent, fun and very positive young people performing their material.

I know the whole team are looking forward to creating an even better event than last time and giving these young people the platform that they deserve.

Adam Cogdon, EBNE Music Leader

Watch our East by North East 2017 film here

GemArts East by North East 2017 from GemArts on Vimeo.

If you are interested in the project please contact GemArts on 0191 440 4124 or email info@gemarts.org