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Youth Music Awards 2023 Winners: Elizabeth J. Birch

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Get to know the trailblazing winners across the 12 categories at the Youth Music Awards 2023 in association with Hal Leonard Europe.

elizabeth birch holds her award
Credit: Nic Serpell-Rand

Elizabeth J. Birch

MAC Birmingham, West Midlands

Elizabeth J. Birch won the Inspiration Music Leader Award sponsored by The Musicians' Union.

Elizabeth leads the way as a role model for young Disabled musicians and facilitators, managing relationships and projects to guide them to the best outcome. She encourages those around her to work more inclusively, to think outside of the box or, to use an analogy she employs in her sessions, to switch in different plugins for our metaphorical synthesiser to adapt to whatever circumstance we're in and make the music we want.

When crafting her Soundscapes project at MAC, Elizabeth used polls to let the young people vote on the theme of the sessions. In Variety Jam, an online music club for 13-25s, Elizabeth sensitively steers the musical content shared by young people, giving them a sense of respect, professionalism and musical insight

Elizabeth assisted sessions for MAC's inclusive band SWITCH, spoke on Radio WM and BBC Introducing, performed at residential homes and Virtual Schools concerts, and chaired panels about access to music at various conferences.

Elizabeth J. Birch on stage with award presenter Dr. Diljeet Kaur Bhachu
Elizabeth J. Birch on stage with award presenter Dr. Diljeet Kaur Bhachu / Credit: Livy Dukes

How does it feel being a spokesperson for those with lived experiences as a Disabled musician?

It feels overwhelming because I think now, part of me feels against that idea of being the right person kind of thing. I just feel really honoured to speak about this stuff and use challenges I’ve had to hopefully, impact other people, and hopefully make other people’s lives better - whether they’re young, old, whatever - I want to remind them they should be able to feel authentic and to feel like they can be who they are, and express themselves in a way that is unique to them.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started in Youth Music projects when I was younger and by chance, it was really a driving moment for me to show me that I could have music as a career - which you know, you’re not taught often. Also, it showed me that there are other people who also have challenges that they need to have the opportunity to speak, they need that opportunity to voice what they want and their feelings.


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