Musical Inclusion



In 2017, SoundStorm was awarded Challenge Fund funding by our Arts Council Bridge Organisation, Real Ideas Organisation, after a competitive application process.

The project uses cultural education and social enterprise as a means to reintegrate some of the most disadvantaged / isolated /NEET (not in education, employment and training) young people back into education and/or interaction with their peers, at the same time improving their health and wellbeing. For every £1 of investment we raise for the project from previously untapped sources, the Challenge Fund matches this with its own investment. Many thanks to RIO for its support and encouragement.

Our aim has been to provide participants with exciting, creative music experiences whilst simultaneously developing employability skills and pathways of progression onwards. Bournemouth Youth Service is a principal partner, as is Absolute Music Trust. The sessions have been mainly hosted in the recording studios at Absolute Music.

The project works with four separate cohorts on 10 week placements over an 18-24 month period. As well as creative songwriting sessions,  participants learn about all the processes in creating professional quality recordings, get access to professional musicians and learn how to establish and manage their own record label. Session musicians are brought in to help produce professional quality recordings at the end of the sessions.

By July 2018, two groups of young people had completed the course and the results were impressive: 50% of participants had progressed into new courses including a number at the Bournemouth Academy of Modern Music. Some had also returned to mentor new students from the successor courses. The second cohort, working with students excluded from mainstream schools, drew comments such as ‘the young people had never been as engaged as they were on this programme; it has been great’.

Watch this short film we made with mentor James Holgate and music leader Jamie King.

You can also listen one of the tracks that they created here.

Here is a blog by music leader, JAMIE KING, relating to his experience working with the first cohort:

Firstly, all those invited attended, and kept returning, a real achievement. At the first session, they all sat in the café at Absolute, they seemed nervous but excited. It’s such a great venue it makes you feel important. We went down to our allocated rehearsal space, the suitably impressive live room of the large studio. We commenced with our introduction, ground rules and expectations. The goal for the first part of these workshops and the task for the next five days was to take this group of six young people, allow them through self-expression and collaboration to write and record some songs by the end of Friday. At the same time, imparting transferable skills and highlighting progression routes would be a target. They all undertook this challenge with zeal, genuine enthusiasm and positivity rarely acknowledged as an attribute of the average teenager. In my experience, music has a knack of drawing the best from people, the connection between head and heart can often prove to be an incredible motivator.

The next 4 sessions were spent; swapping instruments, writing lyrics, talking about form, agreeing-disagreeing with each other more swapping of ideas and instruments, fresh-air breaks etc. By Thursday morning 4 songs were written and the young people had to teach them to the three professional musicians who had come in. This was lovely to see, young people owning their material sharing with musicians and telling them when they weren’t getting it quite right. Then onto the recording process. Both young people and musicians all contributed equally.

If you have a group of disadvantaged or isolated young people living in Bournemouth who you feel might benefit from this course, please do get in touch via


Musical Inclusion

From 2012-15, SoundStorm was a Musical Inclusion (MINC) partner of Youth Music, the national music education charity, one of 22 such partners nationwide.  The project focussed upon delivering new musical opportunities for young people in challenging circumstances, particularly those impacted by rural isolation in wider Dorset and those out of the music education mainstream in Bournemouth and Poole.

As part of this work, SoundStorm commissioned mapping exercises in 2012 and 2014 to identify challenging circumstances young people faced in our region and what the music provision was like for these young people. You can read the reports from 2014 (one for Dorset, one for Bournemouth and Poole) here,along with their recommendations here.

SoundStorm worked with a wide range of partners on the MINC programme, including

  • B Sharp (Lyme Regis)
  • Dorset Music Service / Dorset Music Ed Hub
  • Pop Club (Dorchester)
  • Coda Music Trust (Christchurch)
  • DepARTure Arts (Dorchester)
  • Portland Rocks
  • Wren Music (Devon)
  • Music In Action (Bath)
  • Activate Performing Arts (Dorchester)
  • Dorset Arts Development Company (Dorchester)
  • Poole Open Access Team
  • Poole Social Care
  • Bournemouth Early Years
  • Purbeck Folk Festival
  • Bournemouth Community Development
  • Real Ideas Organisation (Bristol/Plymouth)
  • Wave Arts Education Organisation (Bournemoth/Poole)
  • Rainbow Arts (Bournemouth)

Professional development needs facilitated included:

  • Singing training for rurally isolated areas
  • Liaising with other providers/organisations engaged with rural isolation and learning from their shared practice
  • Music software training courses
  • Subsidies towards travel and costs to attend CPD nationally for local providers
  • Fundraising courses

Breakthrough projects initiated included:

  • Musical ensemble development for early years children in disadvantaged areas; and staff training of early years practitioners
  • Folk music workshops for rurally isolated local children and young people associated with local festivals
  • Equipment purchases to enable more digital music production in areas of economic disadvantage
  • Family learning days for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and their parents/families to learn together
  • Funding to start looking at a touring circuit across rurally isolated and economically disadvantaged areas, aimed at children in challenging circumstances

A huge amount of work was undertaken and over 2000 young people took part in activities who had not had these opportunities before.

Sadly, some of the programmes stopped when the MINC funding ceased in 2015. However, amongst the lasting legacies were the development of a strong network of providers, an increasingly linked strategic programme of ongoing CPD for practitioners; and ongoing work between many of the partners.