Youth and Community
In October 2020 we were lucky enough to be accepted onto a European Union funded programme called Learning Labs run by an organisation called Creative FLIP (Finance, Learning, Innovation and Patenting). They brought together a really inspiring group of around 15 creative hubs from all across Europe who were partnering up with educational institutions in innovative ways. The hubs were able to meet every Friday to share our work with each other which was great for developing our practice, but also very interesting to hear about peoples’ first hand experience of how the pandemic is affecting things across the whole continent.
In one of our breakout sessions we were with a group called X11 from Utrecht, Netherlands, and discussing that one of the most interesting developments of the pandemic has been the way that the move to online teaching has removed barriers of physical distance for people to work together. We realised that, given that our delivery was all online at the time, there was a brilliant opportunity to run a project together.
X11 are a really interesting school for 12 – 16 year olds that specialises in Media, Design and ICT. They have some really progressive policies which include; no hierarchal system in the school; no rules of the school instead students and teachers would develop the rules together; students work on projects and are given a high degree of freedom to create and innovate inspiring pieces of work. Clearly a lot of crossover with our youth led approach.
After a bit of discussion we realised that one of the desired outcomes of a partnership would be for participants to develop their English as a foreign language so a songwriting project seemed like a natural fit.
The setting was on Microsoft Teams with all participants at home on their own individual devices. We started with the question, ‘What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given’ and it all went from there. Have a listen to the song and see what you think.
It has been fascinating to see how something like this is now possible and we hope to develop more similar partnership projects like this.
Get The World Inspired by x11
Thanks to Sam Irvine for arrangement and Sax, Emily Greenwood for Trumpet and Jack Nissan for Keys.
Over the last term, Jed and Claire from Tinderbox ran a songwriting project online via Zoom to the amazing young people of SCORE Scotland. Along with Harry from SCORE, we met every Wednesday night and by the end of the project, had managed to create a really wonderful and unique song together.
The sessions usually started with a dance and a question of the week before moving onto our open mic section of the evening. Throughout the weeks, we had some amazing music performances and dance routines, saw some wonderful artwork created by the participants and had our knowledge tested by some riddles. We also had the opportunity to listen to some incredible poetry by Leen- one of the participants. We found her poem so creative and thought-provoking that we decided to incorporate it into our song.
Using Leen’s poem as inspiration and the chat box in Zoom, we began to work together to finish the song’s lyrics whilst Jed helped us pick the style of the song by playing different genres on his guitar.
We then had Matthew (aka Mercurius) come in to expertly rap Leen’s poem for us whilst I added a bit of vocals to go along with Jed’s very cool harmonies on the final mixed track.
I’m sure I can speak for the whole team when I say we had SO MUCH FUN with the participants from SCORE and absolutely love to see some of them continuing their music making by coming to our Online Music School on a Saturday morning.
Listen Here >>>
Amazing Harmonies is a community choir based in North West Edinburgh, using singing to bring people together to promote health and wellbeing, build networks and celebrate diversity. Tinderbox and Amazing Harmonies have partnered over the last few years to provide access to musical instrument tuition to children in the local area.
In September 2020, a new incarnation of this project began as Jenny, Sam and Liam from Tinderbox began providing keyboard and guitar lessons online via Zoom to the children of Amazing Harmonies. Along with Dave, the administrator of Amazing Harmonies, the team met with 11 children and young people on Monday evenings from September to December. The groups were full of big personalities, so although none of us had ever met in person, there was a great sense of fun and camaraderie throughout.
Several different pieces of music were learnt across the term, all chosen by the students. This included Someone You Loved, Coffin Dance and Jingle Bells. Across the term, we were also working on putting together a video of Wannabe by the Spice Girls. Everyone was recorded over Zoom playing different parts of the song, and it was edited together into a video interspersed with clips of everyone dancing and having fun. As it was December, we decided to make the song our own and turn it into a Christmas version, adding some sleigh bells and answering the question of what we really really wanted for Christmas! The video got a great reaction when it was shown at the Amazing Harmonies online Christmas concert, and is available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAWfjxSasVw
It has been fantastic to see that several of the young people who came to the lessons have chosen to continue their learning by joining the Tinderbox Saturday morning online music school, which recently started back up again for 2021. I’m sure I speak for the whole team when I say we are very proud of everyone who attended the lessons and hope to see them again soon!
– Jenny Laahs
"Wannabe" Christmas Cover by Ama-zing Harmonies kids and Tinderbox
Since half term we’ve been piloting our first online schools projects over video conferencing software to smart boards in classrooms.
As always Craigroyston Community High School are fantastic partners who were up for helping us face the challenge of how to do this. Music teachers Rachel Ponte and Laura Kemp were fantastic to collaborate with and their patience and drive at such a difficult time was really impressive.
We ended up running 2 x songwriting projects and a digital music production course over 8 weeks.
It was a very steep learning curve and absolutely fascinating to see how it all unfolded. It was definitely a situation that required ‘learning by doing’!
We had things set up so that our video and audio was shared on the smartboard and there was a webcam and mic in the classroom so that we could partially see and hear the pupils.
One challenge was that it was very difficult to see or hear the pupils clearly, although they could see and hear us well.
To overcome this we started using the idea sharing platform ‘Padlet’ (see image below) so that pupils could log in separately and participate via text on there. This became very effective very quickly as pupils could use their own phones or school iPads to do this.
This meant that we were able to gather a lot of lyrics, questions, suggestions and feedback in a very accessible way.
Pupils were able to use keyboards in the classroom to suggest melodies for the songwriting.
What became really magical was that we were able to invite different musicians from Tinderbox Collective in to class each week who were able to talk about their creative process and their careers as well as help us record our songs.
You can hear some of the tracks we’ve recorded in the project so far below.
I know I’ll Always Come Back Stronger
The lyrics for this song came out of a conversation we started having about lockdown and how everything is going for everyone. A pupil wrote the main hook on a keyboard in the classroom which the class thought would sound good on trumpet. We were able to ask Emily Greenwood to come in and play the trumpet part as well as dropping a trombone solo in there. Someone suggested keyboard so we asked Jack Nissan to drop some Hammond on it. Xander Lyons helped us to polish up the lyrics a bit and put a great vocal on for us. The whole thing was finished off by the Tinderbox Backline veterans, Anna Fraser on drums and Leo Bacica on bass. It’s amazing what you can do on a combination of phones and laptops!
Corona Got Us In A Vice
This song almost started as a challenge from the pupils. There was an incredible mixture of thoughts in the padlet chat. Very serious points being raised about mental health as well as jokey rhyming posts that were almost trying to sabotage the song. Amazingly it has all come together into something that covers all of those things. Once we had our initial lyrical ideas we enlisted the help of Elek Kish to help us polish up and record the first verse. One of the pupils wrote the hook on a keyboard which quickly became an intense synth line. Matt Tulloch aka Mercurius joined in to help us with the 2nd verse and then Claire Docherty took on some of the pupils ideas into the vocal part.
Over the 8 weeks we used the launchpad app on the school iPads to explore beginning digital music production. Launchpad is a fantastic free iOS sampler app that has a very simple interface for beginners but really high quality industry standard samples. We were able to explore lots of creative ideas and tools over the course. Each of the pupils submitted a recording at the end of the project. There are a selection below.
Bangin Tune 2
Moon Light Night
The online Tuesday Hub has been a great space for the young people and tutors to stay connected during these times.
Every Tuesday we have playing games, quizzes and have been running an online open mic within the hub! Everyone steps upon the virtual stage and shares something with the group. From transcendentally improvised solos, rehearsed renditions of amazing songs, and original compositions from singer/songwriters all the way to comedy, magic, stories, and more; there has been a space for everyone to share their work and their talent.
It’s been a great space to hang out and check in with one another and overall has been a fun and rewarding space to be.
If you are aged 10-18 and you’d like to join us in 2021,
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last few weeks, Tinderbox – along with some of our amazing Tinderbox Champions – have had the opportunity to meet up in the garden at North Edinburgh Arts for some socially distanced music making sessions!
Lockdown gave us the opportunity to adapt and learn how to have fun by making and sharing music online but being able to meet up in person has brought back the sheer joy of being able to jam together as a group.
In the last few weeks we have had solo acoustic performances, impromptu duets and trios forming to collaborate in a variety of different music styles. We’ve heard songs newly written by group members and acoustic versions of some of the songs performed by the Tinderbox Orchestra. One week, we even had a performance of ‘The Mango Song’, a song written during the session and expertly performed at the end!
We have had the best time over the last few weeks and are so incredibly grateful to have an outdoor space that allows us to meet up, make some music and most importantly, have fun! And of course, for our young people to share how exceptionally talented and creative they are!
Tinderbox Tuesdays is a wee poem about our online Tuesday Hub, written near the start of the lockdown. This is usually our weekly youth club where about 50 children and young people get together to play music and hang out at North Edinburgh Arts, but since the lockdown we have been meeting up online every week for something a bit like an open mic session. It’s been a brilliant way of keeping in touch in this time and great fun and uplifting too.
A song made by a group of young students from different ethnic backgrounds, with a deep meaning about their lives, their traditions and what is expected of them.
The lyrics and music were written, composed and produced by Ali, Jay, Elijah, Femi, Ken, Arnav, Derek and Rakib.
Lyrics performed by Ali & Jay.
The project was a collaboration with Action for Children Heritage and Inclusion Project.
Another term of the Tuesday Hub at North Edinburgh Arts is in full swing! Now in its 6th year, the Hub brings together young people aged 10-18 with a team of tutors for the opportunity to try learning instruments, singing, song-writing, rapping… and sometimes even dancing!
This term we’ve been working on some great songs – Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi, Thunder by Imagine Dragons and I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. It’s been fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and talent, both from our regulars and from those who have come for the first time this term. Some highlights include:
- Rhys, Sarah, Claire and Megan forming a tutor band to perform a jazzed up version of Umbrella by Rihanna.
- A crowd of 10 young people spontaneously jumping to the stage to dance along to Mark* singing Giant by Calvin Harris.
- Our volunteer Matthew helping participants try out vocal sampling on the iPad and performing with this in the song Thunder.
- The bass guitar section showing off having learnt to play the Thomas the Tank Engine theme.
Here’s to many more musical adventures to be had before our end of term performance on 31st March at North Edinburgh Arts. Bring it on!
The Hub runs from 6-8pm at North Edinburgh Arts in Muirhouse on Tuesdays during term time. All 10-18 years are welcome to drop in, regardless of musical experience. Come along and join the fun! – Jenny, Tinderbox Hub Lead Tutor.
“What an experience it was to visit the Scottish Parliament for the Universities Scotland event to showcase the ways in which univerisies around Scotland are engaging with their local communities. We were invited by the Edinburgh University Local fund to talk about the projects that they have supported us to deliver; our Tuesday Hub and our new Digital Workshops series. For most of us it was our first visit to the Parliament and a very memorable experience. We had a good chat with the Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes and also the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney. Hoping they’ll both be down to the Tuesday Hub sometime to join in with the open stage. We were also shown around the chamber by the Rector of University Of Edinburgh, Ann Henderson. It was fascinating to hear about all the meaning behind the details of the design of the chamber and to see Ann’s passion for democracy and education and her encouragement for us to make the most of the opportunities we have.” – Jed Milroy
Jed, Luci & Elek have been working alongside the young people at Howdenhall and getting creative is all sorts of ways!
Luci has been working with the ‘Springimajig’ (home made touch synthesizer). They are also building their own synths & designing their own platform game.
Jed has been helping them to compose a piece for the orchestra using the ‘Medley’ app. Pupils have also been producing their own tracks using the ‘Launchpad’ app – styles ranging from drum & bass to deep house.
Elek has been writing rap with them. Themes include: food, football, differences between Scotland & America and modern-day youth/gang culture. Next week they will unite music and lyrics & modify where necessary!
Thanks to Howdenhall staff who are always so welcoming & helpful, and the Howdenhall young people – creating a terrific variety of music & lyrics & expressing their individuality!
During the October break Jed, Sam, Niki, and Rob went along to play some tunes for the happy smiling faces at the multicultural family base autumn ceilidh. It was great to have such a decent turnout and possibly the youngest audience and most rounds of musical chairs, statues, and bumps that we’ve ever played for!
Amazing Harmonies is a community music group for children (generally aged 5-15) in North Edinburgh born out of the adult community singing group of the same name. Twice a month the group has been gathering to learn instruments and to prepare a dazzling performance for their upcoming Christmas concert at North Edinburgh Arts on Thurs 19th December. The children are in no way lacking in enthusiasm and determination to learn – and we have been having fun both with music and with games!
– Christy Ringrose, Lead Tutor
We’ve spent the last few weeks hanging out at Granton Youth Club making some music and teaching instruments. It’s great to see that a lot of the participants are keen to get involved with being creative, wether that means writing a song about Lidl (which did happen!), singing their favourite song with a tutor accompanying them or just listening to music whilst they do some arts and crafts. We’ve even had a couple of GYC participants coming to the Tue hub at North Edinburgh Arts, which is amazing!
We’re very much looking forward to the next session!
– Rhys Gilchrist, Guitar Tutor
Over the October break we help two drop in demo sessions with a bunch of the instruments at the Muirhouse Instrument Library. We had lots of young people trying out trumpets, guitars, keyboards, clarinets, violins, saxophones, and accordion!
At the moment we’re working on building up our stock of instruments at the library and are looking for musical instrument donations.
If you would like to donate an instrument to the Muirhouse Instrument Library please get in touch with us at <email@example.com>
“And so we’ve reached the end of Tinderbox Sparks for this year. It’s been a group who have lived up to the name. Full of ideas and creativity. Wild improvisations and a very unusual group composition about a flying pig who saves us all. Check out this video of the ensemble playing ‘Rather Be’.” – Jed (Tinderbox Manager)
Here’s part of a report on our project at Howdenhall from their resident music specialist Gavin Wiltshire. It has been absolutely fantastic to work with him on this project. Thanks to the YMI for making the connection and funding the work.
Tinderbox members from a plethora of disciplines worked alongside Howdenhall’s resident music / music technology specialist to deliver a programme of intensive, engaging, challenging and interactive music workshops. Steered entirely by the young people – participants took ownership of their project, being immersed in the creative environment – networking with and instructing professionals, communicating ‘at their level’ and expressing themselves whilst gaining core skills in the music performance, composition, music technology and music production – to create a product that was tangibly their own.
Why did we do it?
Each young person is present at the school because A) they or their families are a risk to themselves or to others B) they have been intercepted on a trajectory of criminality and C) the criminal justice system is waiting for the young person to reach the age where they could be trialed as an adult and then sent to prison for their respective offence(s).
The young people attending the school at any given point are often some the most at risk members of society, with the cost to shelter, educate and care for the highly bespoke needs of each young person, per year – running into several hundred thousand pounds.
In the very nature of the school, it is negative circumstances that have led the young people to be where they are, but stakeholders from all areas of life – Police, social work, family support units, the NHS and beyond who all have a vested interest in seeing positive outcomes from these young people, and as such – the potential impact of a programme such as this – a tactical deployment of musicians at the top of their game – punches far beyond its weight in terms of reach, value money, and future impact on society.
How did it go?
The impact of the project was broad and deep, and is best measured against the specific situation of each participant, case studies below:
Young person (A) suffers from profound mental health issues, frequently self harms and struggles to engage in most classes – often storming out of classes and needing restrained. Young person (A) did not want to engage in music making per say, but instead interview each of the visiting musicians, asking them questions about their life – and combined with recordings of them playing their instrument, created a sound collage. Young person (A) also photographed the instruments / performers for her use in the art class and really enjoyed having new material to work with. I was hugely impressed at the positive attitude young person (A) displayed in every session, asking relevant questions and showing a genuine interest, not having to leave the classroom even once – showing real confidence and comfort in the environment, when in the past adapting to new situations and people has proven difficult.
Young person (B) has complex learning difficulties and suffers from ADHD. He struggles to focus and contain his energy and is obsessed with his iPad. Young person (B) took to the project like a duck to water, immediately adopting the dual roles of producer / engineer – calling the shots and communicating his ideas to the musicians clearly, and with passion – whilst handling all of the technical processes, setting up the microphones and operating the recording software. Young person (B) became visibly more relaxed and was delighted at the end result – an orchestral reinterpretation of his favourite video game soundtrack.
Going far beyond music – Tinderbox engaged and integrated into the critical STEM (Science, Technologies, English and Maths) classes with workshops on hardware synthesis, circuitry and game sound design – demonstrating the application of music based skills in the non musical environment.
The project proved not only therapeutic to the individual, but fostered communication and interpersonal skills, stimulated a broad range of conversations, empowered the participants to speak up and speak out – gave confidence and showed the young people involved a few different outlooks on life, with new faces and other ways of thinking. Cumulatively the overall trajectory of the lives of the young people involved has been downwards, that is why they are at the facility. Although it is impossible to know whether had these young people been exposed music and the arts at an earlier age, if their situation would be different, but we believe we have had a positive impact on this trajectory, and have been there for the bounce.
It was great to work in partnership with Sound Festival to help to kick off the Sound Collective over the last few months. We met a whole bunch of enthusiastic and talented community musicians who are working with a range of young people in the Aberdeen area.
There have been 3 creative hubs who have been doing songwriting, instrumental tuition and musical experimentation.
We helped them to bring it all together for a very upbeat performance at the opening of the newly refurbished Aberdeen Music Hall.
What an amazing building. Very much hoping to be back there with the rest of the Tinderbox Collective at some point.