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During April – November 2020 Sound Connections awarded 15 professional development bursaries of £250 to freelance practitioners to support them financially to invest in their own personal or professional development. We received more than 60 applications for this support, from practitioners across the music and community music sectors. This funding was intended to support practitioners to embark on some professional research and development, enable them to attend training or mentoring to increase their skills, knowledge and understanding, or provide an opportunity to reflect on how they needed to adapt professionally, particularly through using technology, during the COVID pandemic. Below are a selection of the bursary recipients, sharing reflections and outputs that this funding enabled.


Alex Pullinger

Read Alex’s article, ‘Facilitating the Empowerment of Transgender Voices Through Singing: A case for the removal of cisgendered expectations in Western classical singing, and the creation of trans-positive singing spaces’, here.


Anna Astesano

Anna Astesano photo

Read Anna’s reflection on the current freelance musician’s situation here. A professional harp experience tailored and shaped for the listener to share precious time with loved ones in these socially distanced times. Click here to view the platform referred to in the reflection.

Emily Stratford

Emily Stratford photo 2     Emily Stratford photo

I’m Emily Stratford, a special needs music specialist and composer.

I wanted to create online videos that could support SEN children in how to stay safe during this difficult time and also have resources available that encourage ongoing learning despite not being at school. I needed to improve my iMovie skills, especially since I wanted to use split-screens in order to provide on-screen Makaton signing.

You can view Emily’s songs at the links below.

Stay Safe Song

How We Feel Song

What can you see in the sea?

Jake Jones 

Read Drillosophy’s Tips for Producing Online Video Content Remotely guide and watch the Drillosophy videos here. Drillosophy is an original video series combining contemporary music culture, urban sociology and philosophy to help you think critically about the world.

Joseph Steele

Screenshot 2020-12-05 at 16.02.54

LGBTQ+ refugees are one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society, belonging to several identities which routinely face prejudice, discrimination and other difficult circumstances. Leaders Joe Steele and Roseanna Skikun describe here their process of piloting a music project for LGBTQ+ people, which places young LGBTQ+ refugee voices at its heart from the outset.

Kolia Bene

Find out more about Kolia and their online music workshops here. You can download the following resources submitted as part of the professional development bursary programme.

Using Zoom – Safety Recommendations

Imagination Games for Connection Activities Online

The Listening Passport (

Future Music Canvas (in partnership with VisionAutik)

Leila Seguin

Leila Seguin photo

Leila is a French musician with a background in International Relations. She has a Masters degree in Development Studies during which she wrote a thesis on the restorative role music can play in helping refugees rebuild their lives, connect to wider communities and integrate into the UK. She has been working for 4 years as Project Coordinator at the British Red Cross supporting young refugees and asylum seekers. She has been involved in many cultural projects supporting vulnerable communities through music and arts working alongside organisations such as Music Action international, You Press, Counterpoints Arts. She has just come back from working in Palestine where she set up and ran a music programme and is now working with Compass Collective as project coordinator and music facilitator.

Click here to listen to the songs created with Compass Collective using the professional development bursary.

Liz Liew

Liz Liew photo

Liz Liew is a piano teacher, freelance musician and composer ( You can read Liz’s professional development bursary reflection here.

Marianne Canning

Marianne Canning photo

Marianne is a Reading-born classically trained violinist and well-rounded multi-instrumentalist across pop, rock, contemporary and classical-infused genres. She spent 4 years touring nationally and internationally with the post-rock alt-indie 7-piece band A Genuine Freakshow. In 2013 Marianne completed her BMus Hons in Music with a 2:1 from City University, London whilst gigging, writing and recording with the band and as a hired session player. Throughout this time, she maintained regular activity on the London classical and contemporary music scene, now with over a decade of orchestral and chamber performance experience.

Marianne’s transformative musical education and experiences have produced a high calibre international musician performing regularly with The King Blues, Buriers, The Moonrise Collective, Stergin and Ode to Lucius. Career highlights include supporting Die Toten Hosen and The Subways in Germany with The King Blues to a 50,000-person crowd in 2018 and playing Reading and Leeds Festivals 2011 with A Genuine Freakshow. She is currently studying for a PGCEi in group string teaching, with Music Masters and Birmingham City University.

Find out here how Marianne used the professional development bursary.

Nicola McAteer

Nicola McAteer Photo

Nicola is a Cellist and Community music Artist based in the West Midlands working within
mental health and wellbeing programs with Quench Arts (Musical Connections Project)
Mac Makes Music (Hidden Voices) and Mothership projects. Nicola studied at Leeds College
of Music before undertaking a MSc in Music in the Community from The University of
Edinburgh researching ‘The use of music as a self-advocacy tool within learning disabilities’
supervised by Professor Nigel Osborne. Nicola’s PhD research on Community Music, Covid-19
and Digital Environments is in partnership between The International Centre of Community
Music (ICCM) and The Institute of Social Justice at York St John’s University with supervision
by Professor Lee Higgins.

Find out how the bursary has helped Nicola’s professional development here.

Roshi Nasehi

Roshi photo

Roshi Nasehi is a Welsh born musician of Iranian parentage with a strong track record in theatre, cross arts collaboration, public art and social intervention projects, recording and workshops. All of her records have received significant airplay, among others, BBC Radio 3, 6 Music, RTE and widespread critical acclaim including, The Quietus, The Wire, The Independent, New Internationalist, and twice experimental record of the month in Mixmag who described her as “one of the most singular voices working at the moment”.

She has led high profile participatory projects and training for many organisations like Sound Connections, Music In Detention and Kith and Kids. She is visiting tutor at Goldsmiths and a featured artist in Dr. Pamela Burnard’s book Musical Creativities In Practice.

Roshi has also received many prestigious commissions including BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, So & So Circus Theatre, the Southbank 2012 WOW festival, Music In Detention for whom she created the sound pieces Love From Syria in collaboration with Syrian refugee families and the British Council for whom she created and presented major public Sound Art pieces in Kuwait in May 2014.

Following extensive use of vocal processing technology in her creative practice, Roshi has taken this experience and used this bursary, whilst in lockdown, towards a series of interactions with her little boy who has ASC. From this she has been able to explore and reflect further on the expressive and sonic possibilities of this versatile technology.

Read Roshi’s report, Playing with Vocal Processing Technologies in Lockdown, here.

Sarah Atter

Sarah Atter photo 2

Sarah Atter is a Manchester-based musician with extensive experience of devising and delivering education and community projects, alongside presenting concerts, student and teacher training, large-scale residencies, and consultancy work. She works across a variety of fields including music in healthcare, music in the community, music in education, music in criminal justice and collaborative cross-art form projects.

Sarah specialises in music facilitation and music engagement with vulnerable, challenging and hard-to-reach groups, and works both as an independent practitioner and in partnership with organisations including Manchester International Festival, Manchester Camerata, Streetwise Opera, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Music in Prisons.

Sarah also lectures on the Participatory Music course at The University of Manchester and works at the RNCM as one of Creative Project mentors for students. She designs and delivers artist development training for TiPP, Music in Hospitals and Care and Chetham’s School of Music.

Sarah is passionate about live music-making using instruments and voices, improvisation and composition, song-writing with groups and developing the musical skills of participants. ​She is a trained Arts Award Adviser and an Artsmark Partner.

As the Creative Director of Tram Tracks – a creative composition project conceived by Sarah and delivered in partnership with the Bridgewater Hall – Sarah worked with a team of practitioners and musicians, as well as nearly 100 community and education groups across Greater Manchester to write a song for every stop on the tram network. These can all be found on Youtube!

Read Sarah’s professional development bursary blog here.

Shirley Tetteh

Shirley has used the professional development bursary to create a series of videos teaching jazz and improvisation. You can watch these videos at the links below.

The Blues (Part 1)

The Blues (Part 2)







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