Music project banging the drum for Bromley’s young people
PUBLISHED: 13:27 08 October 2012
A community project for Bromley’s young people is offering them a chance to learn and lower the risk of anti-social behaviour through music.
Future prospects can be few and far between for frustrated teenagers faced with unemployment, but working with mainstream school pupils, youth offenders and everyone in between, ArtsTrain identifies the needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and seeks to nurture their talents through writing lyrics, dancing or DJing.
Youth development manager Keith Sykes, 27, says the project is not offering “miracles” but can show a path to those willing to walk it.
He said: “We aren’t magicians. We don’t come in and just change people’s lives, but we do see a dramatic change in some people.
“We can be more accessible than an English teacher or a maths teacher, and we can improve key skills through music.
“Rhythm is all about timings and that’s arithmetic, and lyrics can massively help linguistically too.”
Projects such as completing a one-track CD, complete with packaging, give young people a confidence boost.
They can also offer ways into further education or even employment as Keith encourages those who connect with the project to become volunteers, with some progressing into paid tutor roles.
“We work with a whole range of people but one interesting guy came to us failing badly at school and at risk of expulsion.
“He performed at one of our showcases and went on to volunteer and is now being paid. He came right through the system from the age of 15 to 18.
“Others might not last as long – they may stay with us for a month and take part in a performance before they move on. Different people get different amounts out of it.”
ArtsTrain has received grants from various organisations, allowing it to run for the past five years.
The project has an office in Masons Hill but carries out its work in schools and youth clubs.
Youth club JusB has teamed up with ArtsTrain and project manager Ned McWhirter says the benefits of keeping kids off the streets are huge.
He said: “They provide two tutors in the evenings who come along and do music with the young people.
“They help them with their lyrics and that’s a huge benefit for us because we would never find these people otherwise.
“The young people have an opportunity to practice skills, or find new ones which can help with self-confidence and respect. They bring their parents and friends along to shows who then see them in a new light.”
This year Keith and his team have run more than 500 creative arts sessions to 350 youngsters across Bromley, Bexley and further afield.
Regular showcases offer those with new-found skills the chance to express themselves to others through lyrics or choreography.
Keith said: “It’s something they can focus on, work towards and be proud of. They can walk away and know they’ve done something with themselves – it’s quite a holistic approach.
“We take everyone on a case- by-case basis and, whatever their focus, we have a session for them.”
To get involved with Arts Train, visit www.artstrain.org to contact Keith Sykes and his team.
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