Brighton’s leading music charity Rhythmix has been nominated for the Best Arts Project in the National Lottery Awards 2016 and for those of you who may be out of the loop, Rhythmix is a charity that provides free music making sessions to children, young people and older people with dementia across the South East of England. Professional music leaders have helped thousands of people in challenging circumstances, across music. Some of the supporters of Rhythmix include Stephen Fry and Mitch Winehouse, who stated “Rhythmix increases self-expression, resilience, self-confidence, engagement and improved social skills… now what could be better than that? Brilliant!”
The Charity has been selected from 600 nominations to compete in a public vote from 22 June against six other projects, with an awards ceremony to be broadcast on BBC One on the 9th of September to announce the winners (to vote click lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards).
The Badger had a chance to interview one of Rhythmix’s project managers, Jack Kingslake:
Q: Hi Jack! Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do for Rhythmix
Hi…I am a musician, multi instrumentalist and electronic music producer, and I do a range of different things for Rhythmix. Currently I work 2 days a week in a specialist school for boys with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, running weekly music lessons across the school. I also run weekly sessions at a Pupil Referral Unit that works with young people who have been excluded from school, and a weekly session at an acute mental health unit for young people. The sessions vary a lot and I try and respond to the individual needs and interests of the young people attending. I really enjoy the work and although it can be really challenging working in these settings, every day I witness the power that music making has to engage and inspire young people whatever their circumstances.
Based on my experience in this field, Rhythmix have recently appointed me as the project manager in charge of all of the alternative education programmes that we run, and I have been hard at work building partnerships with lots of new specialist schools, offering more opportunities for music making to young people across the regions we work in.
Q: How did you first get involved?
I have been doing this kind of work for years. I was running similar projects myself in Bristol before I moved to Brighton 6 years ago, and having heard about the amazing work that Rhythmix do I approached them with my CV and they began to offer me work tutoring on projects. Since then I have had a lot of fun delivering projects across the region with young people of all ages and abilities, as well as delivering training to schools and other music leaders, and managing programmes of work.
Q: What can you tell me about how this organization and how it began?
As I am relatively new to the organisation, I can’t tell you much about the history, but I know that the charity has existed for over 15 years and has gone from strength to strength. As I understand it, it was started by people working in the music industry who were passionate about the power that music has to change lives for the better. The focus of the charity is the quality of the experiences of participants rather that the quality of the music, although as musicians, the tutors will always have an interest in supporting young people to achieve amazing results.
Q: How does music help these people or make their lives better?
In so many ways…where do I start?! For so many young people listening to the music they love is an escape to a world where they feel like they belong, and when we empower them to create their own music that they have complete control of, we are enabling them to take that experience to the next stage. Whether they are just pressing some buttons on a MIDI controller or stepping out on stage to sing for the first time, the experience of participating in the creative process is so empowering for young people. The sense of pride and self confidence that so many young people achieve through participation in Rhythmix sessions is very hard to quantify, but it is very real and potentially very long lasting.
Q: What does a session consist of?
The sessions vary greatly according to the nature of the participants, size of the group and the musical interests they have. However the focus for me is always on bringing out the creativity of the young people, and responding to them on the level that they’re at. To help to focus groups, I nearly always base my sessions around writing and recording original material (I very rarely work on covers). The recording process means that everyone can be included, even if it’s just a simple hand clap, and the wonders of modern music technology means that the process can be fun and interactive and the results are amazing. The recordings also help to make the experiences longer lasting, giving the participants something they can listen back to and feel proud to be part of.
Q: I noticed that Rhythmix has a bunch of projects going on at the moment, what would you say is the most inspiring of them?
For me the most inspiring is the Wishing Well project, which takes musicians into hospitals to play for and interact with patients. I would love to do the training to be able to deliver this work myself, but so far I haven’t had the time. I think this work has such clear benefits for the patients, taking them away from the sounds of machines and suffering that they experience all the time, allowing them to lose themselves in music. I think the musicians who do this work are incredible and Jo White who leads this has worked incredibly hard to develop it over the last few years.
Q: How can someone get involved in helping out?
Just get in contact through the website, and let us know what you can offer. We are always open to potential new tutors, and there is often work available for volunteers.
Q: Thanks Jack! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not really, just that we are entirely reliant on funding and donations to keep all of these projects alive, and as it’s getting harder to access certain funding, it is more important than ever that people know about the charity and the amazing work that we do, so thanks for spreading the word.
To help Rhythmix continue making a difference through music, click lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards