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Youth Voice at NYO Inspire

In case you haven’t heard, 2015 is Wired4Music’s 5th birthday!  We’ve been reflecting upon the journey so far, and it got me thinking about the pledge I made at my first Wired4Music event.  “I pledge to trust the young people I work with to shape their own musical opportunities, spaces and conversations.”  I was questioning how brave I felt to hand the reigns over to young people.  During the past month, Wired4Music have been ‘on tour’, enjoying a wave of momentum from Rising Futures: Participation Now! 2015, linking with and supporting organisations who have embarked on their own journey of discovering how much trust they’re willing to place in young leaders.

In this week’s newsletter, we’re shining the spotlight on the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYOGB), who attended Rising Futures: Participation Now 2015, and have since created a platform for NYOGB young musicians to lead and shape musical conversations.

If ever you want to inspire new thinking or revitalise a vision, try listening to young people.  They come without an agenda, an unfettered perspective, and they are full of optimistic energy.  At a recent National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain Inspire event at Sedgehill School in Lewisham, Wired4Music and young people from NYOGB teamed up to present an evening of youth-led conversation about musical ‘next steps’, and some of the potential barriers to progression.  15 year old cellist Anoushka and trumpeter Katie hosted the evening in collaboration with Wired4Music Ambassadors K-Hero, Siân and KP.  Together they steered an audience of over 100 people through an evening of discussion around the Wired4Music Manifesto themes of opportunity, community, unity, progression and investment.

It took the audience time to adjust to an event that was entirely led and presented by young people, and there was a sense that some were at first unsure how to receive it.  But once the youth panel invited questions from the audience, made up largely of parents, they were impressed and excited by the depth of thinking that came from the young people.

One of the key issues that emerged was an interesting and unprompted echo of other current debates and opinion, captured in a recent article by Sound Connections Director, Philip Flood.  The young people emphasised a need for greater collaboration between schools and cultural organisations.  There was also consensus that there’s much more work to be done to convince school Senior Leadership Teams that music and the arts are more valuable than is recognised currently.  They celebrated the many different ways you can be a musician, and that it’s a diverse community of musicians that’s the most dynamic.  Most of all they acknowledged that it’s the combined voice of young people that has the strongest potential to create the change they want to see.

It felt like an important moment for young people to take centre stage, and Nick Thorne, NYO Inspire Project Manager, reflected that the “musicians really enjoyed having a public voice.”  From the Wired4Music perspective, it was a powerful example of an organisation wholeheartedly embracing the idea of youth voice in an open, public forum.  Evidence like this that we’re moving towards youth voice becoming the norm is worth celebrating; at the top of our birthday wish list is that every event and discussion forum values young voices, and that more people are brave enough to hand over the reigns.

 

– Jennifer Raven, Sound Connections Programme Manager

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