Powys Youth Music Project 2000

Last year, as some of you may remember, Arts Connection, in conjunction with Community Music Wales ran a series of youth music workshops for people between the ages of 13 and 21. With working musicians as tutors and a large number of committed and enthusiastic volunteer assistants, workshops took place across the length and breadth of Powys and dealt with many different musical styles.

The type of music was determined almost entirely by the youngsters taking part in the workshops. Subjects tackled included improvisation, song writing, arrangements etc. People with a wide range of abilities took part, from those who had hardly touched an instrument or sung through to a number of quite accomplished musicians.

This year Arts Connection, Newtown Community Arts Project and the Powys Youth Service have joined forces to hold the 1999 version of the scheme,which will take the form of workshops and sessions in six towns in Montgomeryshire – Machynlleth, Welshpool, Newtown, Llanfair Caerienion, Llanfyllin and Llanidloes.This year, for the first time, we have been given access to the High Schools in all but one of the towns. We’ve been invited to hold taster sessions in the schools, in many cases during school hours.

The project kicks off on 27th February with a tutors and volunteers training day at the Thunderdome Café in Newtown.

Arts Connection member and C.M.W. Rockschool tutor, Steph Power, is running this one. She has the Herculean task of knocking about 25 unruly musicians into some sort of shape and preventing the day from degenerating into a six hour jam session!!!

The workshops themselves start in Machynlleth High School on 3rd March with an all afternoon taster session. All the other taster sessions will take place through the first three weeks of March, including three in youth clubs in Newtown and Llanidloes. Some dates are still being finalised as I write this, as is one venue.

The project takes a brief pause over the Easter holidays and then a series of one-day workshops will be going on in various venues over Saturdays and Sundays throughout April and the first half of May in the six towns. Once again, we are just waiting for confirmation of some of these dates and places.

If all goes according to plan we hope to round off the project for this year with a big event at the Thunderdome in Newtown on 15th May to coincide with CAP’s Community May Arts Festival.

The event at the Thunderdome should take the form of a number of simultaneous workshops including one on sound engineering and finish with performances by (I hope!) a mixture of tutors, volunteers and participants.

These workshops look set to become an annual affair, hopefully we can expand them year on year as more people become involved. Much, of course depends on funding. Negotiations are still going on at the time of writing, with a number of potential funders in order to top up the money allocated to the project from the Arts for All funding received by Arts Connection.

Powys Youth Music Project 2001

Throughout April and May young musicians from across the County have taken part in a series of one-day workshops celebrating the art of song-writing in the Powys Youth Music Project.

Tutored by local professional musicians, the sessions which ran in Llanfyllin, Llanfair Caereinion, Newtown, Machynlleth, Welshpool and Llanidloes, allow young people to come together and work as a group for a day composing 1 or more songs. Styles vary from Hard rock, to ballad, to reggae or techno, and though some teenagers bring their own instruments and expertise, others, who have never played before, borrow instruments from Arts Connection and learn a new skill.

On May 20th, young musicians from all the different towns will meet up at Theatr Clera in Welshpool, for a final workshop composing more material, and then an evening “Big Bash” concert presenting their work.

Powys Youth Music Project is funded by the Arts Council of Wales Lottery Fund and is supported by Powys County Council Youth Service.

Powys Youth Music Project 2002

It had been intended to run the 2001 PYMP in roughly the same format as the previous year’s project, that is, a series of 2 hour taster sessions in schools, closely followed by a series of one-day workshops held during weekends in community centres and youth wings. The finale to the project was The Big Bash, a multi-workshop day and evening performance of devised work at Welshpool High School and Theatr Clera. Indeed this is what happened but with the one major difference being the effect that the outbreak of foot and mouth had on the running of the project. The epidemic forced the postponement of the day-long workshops for about six months, thus breaking the link in many young peoples’ minds between them and the taster sessions. This resulted in attendance being at best about one third of the previous years’ attendance.

Taster sessions were held in February in five high schools – Machynlleth, Newtown, Llanidloes, Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinion. It had also been hoped to run a taster session in Llanfyllin High School but we were thwarted in this apparently by internal school politics!

A smaller number of tutors than in previous years was used in order to try and give some sense of continuity to sessions. Tutors employed this year for the tasters were Tommy Mills, Roxane Smith and Pete Beresford. In many ways these sessions were the most successful element of the 2001 project largely, as it turned out, due to the peculiar circumstances of the year. The attendees appear to have gained a lot from the sessions and with a maximum number 18 people, split into two groups attending over the two hour period, the tutors were able to give fairly close attention to each young person.

The one-day workshops took place in September, once the F&MD had started to subside and in was considered safe to start using community spaces again. Workshops were scheduled for Welshpool, Llanfair Caereinion, Llanfyllin, Machynlleth, Llanidloes and Newtown. Attendance was generally poor with no-one turning up for the Newtown session. With the exception of Welshpool, which was one of the best attended venues, numbers were anywhere from 1 to 4 in contrast to previous years were anywhere from 6 to 10 was the norm. High attendances are not a feasible proposition in Powys anyway due to the rural nature of the area and the almost non-existant public transport, but even so attendance for 2001, while not unexpected, was none the less disappointing.

Once again a small band of tutors was employed for the sake of continuity, these being Tommy Mills, Roxane Smith, Kevin Torne and Dave Kidd.

The Big Bash was run with just four tutors instead of the usual six. This was partly due to an error in the booking of Theatr Clera resulting in Tommy and Roxane being unavailable on the day and partly due to the anticipated lower attendance for this year.

Tutors employed for this were Kevin Torne, Dave Kidd, Pete Beresford and Rees Wesson.

Gary Northeast. PYMP co-ordinator for 2001.

Powys Youth Music Project 2003

This year the Powys Youth Music project, which ran across North Powys for three months provided 276 participation places for young people to take part in music workshops and master-classes led by experienced musicians. Some of those who took part already played instruments or were part of musical groups, some had no experience but were keen to try out a range of equipment that was provided for the project.

Music and words were created, developed and performed in Welshpool, Newtown, Llanfyllin, Llanfair Caereinion, Berriew and Machynlleth. At the end of March there was a final event- the Big Bash/ Twrw Taro at the Theatr Clera in Welshpool where young people from all the centres where the project ran came together to share their creations with an invited audience. ‘Wicked’ was the main comment from the young musicians taking part!

A group from Berriew also performed in the Powys County Council showcase of all musical projects in Powys at Theatr Hafren in Newtown.

We would like to acknowledge the enormous input of Powys County Council outreach youth workers in the centres where the project ran and of our tutors Tommy Mills, Kevin Torne, Gary Northeast, Dorando Orsi, Tony Skeggs and Matt Donaldson.

This project was supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council’s Music Department.

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