The end of 2019 saw a flurry of activity as our tutors and clients joined in local and London-wide musical events. As many of our current clients are newly arrived in the UK, lead very unstable lives and have very limited English, it is not always easy to organise suitable extra-curricular musical activities for them. But we have some exciting plans for 2020 and will report on them as and when they happen.
In November, Soundmix took part in the Croydon Youth Takeover – a day of music workshops and performances by and for young people held at Fairfield Halls, Croydon. The event offered the young participants an opportunity to perform before a live, public audience – improving their performance skills and confidence. Two of the regular workshop participants along with two tutors, performed three pieces in the foyer area. The Soundmix performances were well received, particularly a piece sung in native tongue by a newly-arrived young man which was described as ‘mesmerising’ and received a lot of praise from the audience.
Also in November, two Soundmix clients along with Soundmix staff attended Jazz Voices, the opening gala event of the London Jazz Festival at the Southbank Centre. The concert showcased a line-up of world-renowned singers and vocal collectives alongside a grand 42-piece jazz orchestra, performing timeless classics. The event was part of the festival organiser’s (Serious) New Audience Programme, which offers subsidised tickets to school and community groups. It was a fantastic opportunity for our clients to experience and be inspired by top-class performers.
(We have been unable to publish photos of our clients at these events for safeguarding reasons. You’ll just have to imagine the mesmerising singer!)
We have been running dedicated rhythm and drum kit sessions at the Refugee Council, extra time on the drums which are proving very popular with our young clients.
Starting in the Summer Term 2019, our music tutor James Taylor has been getting students tapping on-beat. These new workshops are designed to give young people who attend the Refugee Council drop-in sessions an insight into musical rhythm and timing and learning key drum kit skills which they can then take with them into the Soundmix main group sessions, their schools, colleagues or out into the Community.
We are very proud to announce that four Soundmix students have been awarded the Arts Award Bronze. These are the first Soundmix students to enter for this award and it is a huge achievement as it is very difficult for our students to attend sessions regularly.
Congratulations to them all!
As part of their Arts Award project, the students reviewed a musical performance. This is one students critique of songs from the Soundmix performance in Croydon Town Centre over the summer.
“I enjoyed the song ‘Top of my charts’. Her voice was amazing. It’s good that we wrote the song “Under Green Trees”. I like the drums. Some of the performers should enjoy the song more.”
The young people of Soundmix and their tutors performed at this Summers Croydon Live Music and Arts Street Fest on 28th July.
It was the second edition of this local festival, and the stage was set beautifully for the young people of Soundmix to perform first on the bill. They played a set of songs which had been worked on during the summer term, and went down a storm to a home crowd on Croydon High Street!
A number of our students attended the National Orchestra For All Summer Concerts over the weekend of 28th August. They joined with over 100 other young people in music making on a four day trip to Leeds. Here are collages that the young people produced as part of a Soundmix session reviewing their experiences.
Soundmix students to wow Croydon audiences with a performance:
Where: outside the Nando’s in High Street (St George’s Walk shopping arcade), Croydon
When: Saturday 28th July 2018 at 3pm
Organised by: Croydon Council Music and Arts and Soundmix
Please come and support our enthusiastic young musicians and introduce yourselves to our tutor team.
During the winter half term break this year, Soundmix held a Band Session. This was an opportunity for our members to attend a music workshop away from the usual location at the Refugee Council and enter a professional rehearsal complex called ‘Scream Studios’.
There, the young people were able to try out full sized acoustic drum kits, amplified guitars, keyboards and vocal microphones. We had greater facilities and space to work on song writing. A group of our dedicated and talented members fully took advantage of this and wrote a cracking song!
When we used this new song as part of the group session back at the Refugee Council, the full group of young people were super-engaged by it. Those whom were not at the Scream session quickly learnt the song and we all performed it together at our in house end of term performance.
Over the course of each term, every student attending the Soundmix sessions will work towards learning a set of songs. The songs are chosen to provide the right level of engagement and learning from the young people, and are used in our performances during the term.
There are three ways we generate songs:
1) Chosen by tutors
2) Chosen by students
3) Writing our own Soundmix songs!
Previous terms song choices have included bangers such as ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa and ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley.
At the start of this term, the tutors chose the tune ‘You’re all I need to get by’, as produced by Mark Ronson. The thinking behind this choice was:
– A contemporary sound with a catchy, appealing hook
– A clear, plain English chorus that can be sung by everyone
– A strong beat and chord progression to learn from.
What makes this song a particularly strong choice is that it samples the almost universally appealing sound of Motown along with original raps by African and American vocalists.
At the start of term, students are often hesitant to share their own song choices. Now at the mid-point of term, we had a great sharing of song choices within the group, spawning our second cover song of the term ‘Let her go’ by Passenger. We look forward to working on this in the second half of term, along with the creation of another Soundmix classic!
If you like what we do at Soundmix, we are looking for enthusiastic new people to join our board of trustees. Check our Join our Team page for all the details. It’s a voluntary role but very rewarding. Deadline for applications 18th May 2018.