“Music is for everyone and anyone who lets music into their lives has so much to gain from it”
“Music has always been a big love of mine – it wasn’t just about the music industry at large, but I’ve always had a burning desire to make music. Growing up in Gloucestershire, I wasn’t all that engaged in school, and there weren’t any opportunities for any musical expression nearby, so I ended up finding ways to collaborate locally with other artists and musicians. When something like that is front-and-centre on your radar, in time you end up chancing upon some really interesting opportunities.
In my mid 20s, I happened upon the Forest of Dean Music Makers (later becoming The Music Works), which pretty much changed my life – at that time, I had no idea that community music organisations existed, so I was excited to become a part of that scene. Other organisations eventually got involved with us, and it then started to really take off when Deborah Potts (the current CEO) came onboard five years ago. I really benefitted so much from the community music scene, so much so that I was determined to get involved and help open up similar opportunities for people like me.
I am now the Creative Director at The Music Works. With my colleagues, I shape and curate our various projects.
“Helping people access music sits at the heart of everything we do. Music needs to be as accessible and inclusive as possible – anyone can do it, and everyone should have music in their lives – and I’ve seen first hand the amazing effects music can have on a person.”
In particular, those referred from the youth justice system, where young people can often get into the vicious cycle of demotivation, law perpetration, lack of opportunities, and then around again.
A few years back, one boy who came to us from a youth justice programme and due to the way many people viewed and treated him, he continuously felt judged and demoralised, and didn’t feel life could offer him much in the way of opportunity and positivity. In working with us he opened up, found his voice, and turned his life around. He later opened a pop-up shop in the city centre! Yes, it’s not music, however music does more than teach someone to play notes on an instrument, or make weird and wonderful sounds: it opens up the mind, gives you a new way of thinking about life, a new language even, and adds so much more to the perception of what the world can offer. In his case, he found his new life skills through music. One of the standout aspects of my job, is seeing those from challenging backgrounds thrive through music, life and learning.
Music is for everyone, and anyone who lets music into their life has so much to gain from it. In Gloucestershire there is a lot of room to grow a creative scene, and we are slowly but surely making this happen.
“There is so much promise on the horizon, especially with our newest project, The Hub! The Hub will essentially be a place where people can express themselves, cultivate their music, and hang out. It’s a massive opportunity for us, and one that will enable us to offer more to the young musicians in the county. As well as being a fantastic creative space to hang out, there will also be a live event space, fully equipped recording studio, and a lot of high-end music equipment. It’s a place for everyone!”
The Queen’s Award is such an amazing recognition of all we’ve worked and strived for over the last five years. I have no doubt it will really help ‘get us out there’ as an organisation, and I think it will also help put the community music scene as a whole on the map. There is so much talent out there, and we’re all so privileged to be able to nurture and share all that these young musicians (and those musicians in-the-making) have to offer.”