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Exchanging Notes

It seems like stating the obvious to say that young people love music. It’s such an integral part of growing up. But young people on our projects often contrast their Youth Music experience to the music they do in school.

Primarily because in school they are given less autonomy over their own learning, and it’s often disconnected from their musical lives.

Exchanging Notes was our attempt to address this: bringing community music organisations together with school music departments so that each could learn from the other.

We wanted to see what would happen if young people at risk of disengagement, low attainment or exclusion from school had access to a creative and inspiring music curriculum that was sustained over four years.

We invested in 10 new partnerships and appointed a team from Birmingham City University to research the impact using a mixed-method approach. All funded through the National Lottery via Arts Council England.

Exchanging Notes worked with 974 young musicians, 72 of whom were tracked across four years. The findings from the research demonstrate that music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning.

Youth Music’s Chief Executive Matt Griffiths has written an open letter to The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP and the Department for Education Model Music Curriculum Panel stressing the importance of music in school, calling for an urgent transformation in how it is perceived and taught.

Exchanging Notes roundup - Drumworks

Meet the young people from Exchanging Notes

"I expressed myself on the drums" - Tommy's story

Drummer Tommy, 15, is studying GCSE Music and loves composing his own beats. It’s a real change from a few years ago, when he had issues controlling his temper and was excluded from school several times. The Drum Works project has given him a creative outlet and helped him stay out of trouble.

Finding a voice through music

As part of Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes programme, 17-year-old Ashley has taken part in one-to-one music-making sessions at school. He’s developed his ability to express himself and amazed teachers with his progress.

A dozen school kids drumming in the Exchanging Notes programme

Youth Music Podcast episode 6

Exchanging Notes

Hear from the people who participated in the Exchanging Notes project.