You are here: Music-making projects for girls and young women

Flora Ward

by Flora Ward

Grants & Learning Officer at Youth Music

At Youth Music, we’re passionate about making music accessible to all young people. We fund a number of projects that are targeted specifically at girls and young women, seeking to redress the gender imbalance in music.

Girls and women are still widely under-represented – among professional musicians and composers, in music industry careers (especially in senior roles), in the music education workforce, and in some cases among the young people taking part in music-making projects.

We ultimately want to reach a point where targeted projects for girls and young women aren’t needed. Here are some of the projects we’re currently funding to help us reach this goal.

Pan Intercultural Arts – Amies Freedom Choir

This project provides singing workshops for young women in London who are transitioning to independent living after being trafficked into the UK for prostitution or domestic slavery.

Using source material from the participants’ background cultures, the young women work together to compose songs and develop their own repertoire for recording and performance.

The project aims to “help participants overcome isolation, shame and trauma to be proud young musicians with ownership of their work.”

Brighter Sound – Both Sides Now

Manchester-based Brighter Sound recently launched a programme to support, inspire and showcase women in music across the North of England, called Both Sides Now.

In partnership with music technology organisation Charanga, Brighter Sound are developing a set of digital music education resources for schools, Music Education Hubs and other education settings.

They hope the resource will embed women in music as part of the curriculum, and normalise the role of women in the music industry into the everyday thinking of all students aged 9-14.

Second Wave Centre for Youth Arts – Change the Soundtrack

South East London-based Second Wave has a 14-year track record working creatively to support young women with complex needs, and an experienced team of female music practitioners.

They run a music programme that offers a safe, supportive, youth-centred, creative space for vulnerable and ‘at-risk’ young women. It’s supporting them to develop musical knowledge and skills, re-engage in learning, improve their confidence and enhance their emotional wellbeing.

AudioActive – Progress

The ‘Girls Make Music’ strand of AudioActive’s music-making programme was developed because the rates of retention and progression among young women attending open workshops weren’t as high as for their male peers.

The project in Brighton now runs girls-only activities, including collaborative songwriting, one-to-one breakout vocal coaching, live looping and layering. The sessions are facilitated by an experienced all-female team.

WILD Young Parents’ Project – Music Makes Me Happy

This project runs music groups for young mums living in deprived and rurally isolated areas of Cornwall. Their ‘Music Makes MUMS Happy’ work includes music skills, music leadership and personal progression for young mums. They also run a young mums’ choir.

Young mums choir from WILD project
Photo by WILD Young Parents’ Project.

The Beautiful Ideas Co – Beautiful Music Collective

A workforce mentoring programme for emerging and professional female musicians and those working in the music industry and music education sector in Salford.

This group is working with local girls and young women who are beginning their own music-making and creative journeys. They’re encouraged to take their skills to the next level, and lift their individual professional profiles in the North West.

GemArts – East by North East 3

Gateshead-based GemArts are building on their music provision for young people from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), asylum seeker, refugee and wider communities to include more opportunities for young women, to address the gender imbalance that exists nationally.

Young musicians from GemArts performing onstage
Photo by GemArts.

All Change Arts – Lyrical

A project in North London for young women, especially those who face barriers to taking part in music-making. This includes young women who are not in education, employment or training, looked after (living in care), young carers, young women with special educational needs or disabilities, and young mothers.

The young women get to engage in singing, songwriting and music production activities in a range of genres. They’re supported to take part by female peer leaders of a similar age to the participants. The sessions are led by experienced, skilled and inspirational artists, including singer-songwriter Fran Lobo.

Promo shot, young women from All Change Arts
Photo by Romain Forquy for All Change Arts.

Generator – WeCreate

A partnership programme with Roundhouse and Brighter Sound, to improve girls and young women’s musical skills and confidence in self-expression. The project will support them to become more ambitious and develop the qualities, character and capabilities to pursue new artistic and professional opportunities.

It’s offering girls and young women in London, Newcastle and Manchester the chance to take part in 12-week workshop programmes, roundtables, residencies and festival performance opportunities, as well as gaining Bronze Arts Award qualifications.

Joanna singing

Joanna’s story

14-year-old Joanna wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked into a music studio for the first time. But after taking part in the Here Come the Grrrls project, she’s learned new skills and now feels confident about pursuing a potential career in music.

*Many young people have gender identities beyond ‘male’ or ‘female’. Last year, we changed the way we collect data from projects to reflect this. This year 0.1% of participants in Youth Music projects (33 young people) identified as transgender or non-binary. (The evaluation forms are filled out by project staff, so they may not always know a young person’s gender identity or feel it appropriate to ask.) You can read more in our 2016/7 Impact Report.