What’s Studio 340 all about and who is it for?

Studio 340 at CCP is on the high street in Cheltenham, and is used by around 70 young people currently, many coming back every week. At any day you might find a band rehearsing in a practice room, a soloist working with one of our tutors to write and record songs, someone teaching an instrument lesson, and a group of young people learning about beatboxing, or music production, at one of our regular workshops.

There’s a Youth Steering group, and members help to organise live events and work in the studio as volunteers, and we also work with schools.

It’s a community recording studio and so our prices are subsidised: anyone can use it for £10 an hour – which is less than a music lesson! – and get access to a recording studio and engineer/music tutor, a rehearsal room, helping them to create, rehearse, produce and record their own music.  We can also offer free or subsidised sessions for young people depending on their circumstances – we offer free sessions for people in CCP’s supported housing, for example.

It’s open to anyone from beginner to advanced, whether people want to just look at the software and get to know how music-making works, or they’re already making music and just want to produce professional sounding recordings.

When is it open and who works there?

It’s open Monday to Friday, 10am until 3pm for people to drop in, but if we have bookings, we’re often open from 9am until late at night, including at the weekend. There are five tutors working here including me.It’s used a lot during evenings, for recording or band rehearsals, and it’s quieter from around 3-5pm and during the daytimes – we’re keen to work with schools and we already work with one school, Marlowe, to help their students to work on their Arts Awards. We’re accredited to provide mentoring and Arts Awards sessions and can give school prices for that kind of service.

We occasionally run workshops on topics like Songwriting; Beatboxing; and Music Production (taster, beginners, intermediates, advanced).

What is a typical ‘day in the life’ of the studio like?

It’s really difficult to describe but it’s really exciting – every activity is so diverse. We have all sorts of stuff going on here every day – spoken word, reggae, pop, hip-hop … anything is possible! We’re going to be making a short film on a ‘day in the life’ with the help of the Hub so soon people will be able to get a taste of it before they come here. The best thing is for people to visit our Facebook page to get an idea of all that goes on as we regularly post photos and videos.

We also run various events and festivals: we’ve programmed the music at various events including the community stage at this year’s SoMAC festival in Gloucester; Tadstock and Summer’s End festivals; the Montpellier Fiesta, and a monthly stage at the WholeFoods Supermarket in Cheltenham.

Can you tell us about a couple of young people who’ve benefited?

There’s one young person who I originally met through Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service, where I do music mentoring. GHES provides education for young people who can’t attend mainstream school because of physical, mental or emotional ill-health. After he finished there, I suggested he came to Studio 340 so that he could continue to get support with his music. He applied to Birmingham Orminston Academy (similar to The Brit School) and needed a bit of help because he wasn’t used to being in a school setting, and at one point he started getting behind with his course work and was on the verge of being asked to leave. But thanks to the tutor here he caught up with all his assignments and looks on track to pass his BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology.

Another example is Angus Clements who’s 21 and has just got a new music video out (click here to watch the video), all recorded at Studio 340. Originally, he was just doing acoustic singer/songwriter stuff, but he didn’t have a band and so wanted to make it sound better. Kingsley, who’d just finished college and started volunteering then working with us, said to him, I think I can produce it a bit more, help you get a bit more interest for your music. So he started working with him to mix the tracks, make them sound better. He’s gone from being a singer-songwriter to being a recording artist.  The studio’s been great for him because it’s helped him realise what he’s capable of.

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