Instrumental classes of traditional Roma music in accordion and violin were funded by the National Foundation for Youth Music and the Baring Foundation between 2011 and 2013. During this time, Roma tutors and Young Music Trainees delivered weekly classes and studio recording sessions at the Newham Academy of Music, engaging 77 young Roma and non-Roma people, age 8-18.
The classes led to fourteen stage performances where young beneficiaries were able to showcase their skills, talents and share their passion for music in front of mixed audiences, reaching over 2,000 people over two years.
Final evaluation of classes’ impact showed an increase in: music making and instrumental skills (88% of beneficiaries); knowledge of studio recording technology (37%) and performing skills (70%). 75% of young beneficiaries reported their aspiration to pursue a music career in the future.
“It gave me great satisfaction to observe the progress that children were making. Our last CD is a tribute to their achievements and hard work.” – Roma Music Tutor
“In every lesson we learn something new. When I performed in front of people, I was very nervous at first but then I was really excited. Now, I feel very proud when I can play Roma music in public.” – Young Roma, 11 years old
Feedback from the audience showing appreciation for the music-making skills of the beneficiaries of this Project, included these comments:
“They played great music and their enthusiasm was infectious. When are they playing next?” – Member of the audience, July 2012
“This is Roma music? Who are Roma? … Gypsies? … I did not know that they have any other music than flamenco! This was so cool, we all danced to it!” – Member of the audience, July 2012
“We had a lot of positive feedback from residents and are all agreed that the music and entertainment was of a really high standard.” – Events Officer, L. B. Newham
Young beneficiaries have also produced a music CD, Roma Youth Music, aiming to enhance an understanding of Roma culture by celebrating and sharing Roma music heritage.
Sustainability of our work
“I would like to take these classes to the next stage as there is no genuine Roma Youth Orchestra in the UK where Roma and non-Roma play together.” – Roma Music Tutor
This Project has created the foundations for our next step, which is The Bridging Sounds Roma Youth Orchestra, a unique and pioneering initiative inspired by young Roma and non-Roma beneficiaries.
Sharing good practice
- raising the aspirations and self-esteem of Roma youth;
- enhancing an understanding of Roma culture among young British people, and
- facilitating the successful inclusion of Roma into British society.
This good practice has been shared with 25 organisations collaborating with us in this Project, particularly with the Newham Music Hub, whose music strategy for L. B. Newham was informed by it and who fully supports our initiative to establish a future Roma Youth Orchestra.
“The Hub supports the project and that the project intersects with our work in an entirely complimentary way adding great value. It is right that it is led by the Roma Support Group (RSG) who have expertise, intimate knowledge and trust from the Roma community. They are sensitive to the complex needs of the Roma people and hold integration of Roma into society at the forefront of their concern as an organisation. RSG have the ability to ensure combination and placement of students and audiences, brought together by this variety of activities in a way that will enable greater acceptance of different communities with the social aim of decreasing tensions in the community through music.” – Senior Development Officer, Newham Academy of Music.