children in challenging circumstances

Eddie Van Halen on the importance of music education


CNN interviewed rock star Eddie Van Halen recently, about his work with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a group that helps get instruments to economically-disadvantaged young people. In 2012, Eddie Van Halen donated 75 guitars from his personal collection to students in low-income schools.

“Could you imagine a world without music? It’s a must,” the Van Halen legend told CNN in a new interview. “It has to be taught.”

“Our goal is to give kids every tool they can possibly have to succeed. Music is the common denominator,” foundation president and CEO Felice Mancini said. “You put a kid in a music class and it builds community, communication and they find a place. It’s a safe haven.”



Rolling Stone:



Music work with vulnerable young people in Suffolk shows significant impact on wellbeing


A year-long impact study funded by the Cabinet Office’s Impact Readiness Fund, concludes that community music organisation Noise Solution’s fusing of informal music outreach and digital narrative work is “Statistically significant” in impacting on the wellbeing of participants in challenging circumstances.

In February 2016, Noise Solution was awarded funding from the Cabinet Office to work with The Social Investment Consultancy to measure its social impact. The resulting impact report shows that Noise Solution has serious impact with the young people it works with.

Noise Solution pairs professional musicians with people facing challenging circumstances, and they are tasked with making particpants successful at creating the music they value. The organisation then captures and shares their achievements using a blog or a ‘positive digital narrative’.

It is this quick mastery of a skill, combined with the easy and targeted sharing of success with the people whose opinions really matter to them that is allowing participants to reinvent themselves in a positive light.


Youth Music Network:

Noise Solution:

Reaching young people in challenging circumstances

A series of videos from Musinc, which works with young people in challenging circumstances in Teeside.

Making in work … in a pupil referral unit

Making it work … with young offenders

Making it work … to develop youth leadership skills and confidence

See the full series of videos on Musinc’s YouTube page.

This work was funded as part of Youth Music’s Musical Inclusion programme.

Find out more about Youth Music and the outcomes from its funding.

Read research reports from Youth Music.

Youth Music projects report musical, personal, social outcomes

Youth Music

The National Foundation for Youth Music (‘Youth Music’) is the leading UK children’s charity using music to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people. In 2013-14, analysis of the evaluation reports submitted by those organisations funded by Youth Music showed that music-making activities had led to positive musical, personal and social outcomes for children and young people, particularly those in challenging circumstances.

Chapters in their ‘Learning Report 2013-14’ explore the following outcomes:

  • Musical outcomes
  • Developing technical skills and abilities
  • Developing musical understanding and communication
  • Developing knowledge and understanding of musical worlds and roles
  • Personal outcomes
  • Intrinsic personal skills Extrinsic personal skills
  • Social outcomes
  • Individuals and groups
  • Communities and environments


Download the Youth_Music_Learning_Report_2013-14

Visit the Youth Music website

Visit the Youth Music Network website – the online network for people working in music education and community music around the UK

Music work with vulnerable young people helps engagement, attainment, confidence and self-determination

Noise Solution Troubled Families ProjectOver the summer of 2013 music organisation Noise Solution worked with seven Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) clients in a pilot project to test the appropriateness and effectiveness of Noise Solution’s methodology for this client group.

Noise Solution is an outcomes driven organisation providing bespoke 1 to 1 support through music and technology and aims to: 1. increase the learner’s confidence 2. foster a greater feeling of self determination 3. provide a successful educational experience with qualification where appropriate 4. increase musical skills 5. facilitate a positive progression to education/volunteering etc

The pilot lasted from May to October and involved 204 hours of delivery to seven young people. It achieved successful engagement and recognised qualifications with 100% of learners, progressed all but one to other positive activities, achieved an attendance rate from a very challenging client group of 94% and in terms of improved functioning every one of the participants reported improvements in key indicators to wellbeing. These improvements were backed up by independent feedback from those closest to the client confirming that improvement.

An evaluation the following year of work with 10 young people from the government’s ‘Troubled Families‘ initiative further demonstrates the organisation’s success in engaging these hard to reach young people and helping them to progress.


Supplied directly:

Download the Noise Solution CAMHS impact report 
Download the Noise Solution Troubled Families report


BENEFIT: Engagement in learning, personal development
TARGET GROUP: Young people
AGE: Unspecified
MUSIC TYPE: Music technology
TYPE OF STUDY: Organisation’s own evaluation
NOs INVOLVED: 7 and 10
PERIOD OF STUDY: Less than 1 year
DATE: 2013 & 2014
PLACE: United Kingdom

Youth Music – research from the UK’s national music education charity

Youth Music

Youth Music is a UK charity that makes life-changing music-making available to children and young people through funding music projects and investing in research, as well as supporting music educators to develop and improve their work and impact through an online community for music educators: community musicians, music leaders, music teachers.

Youth Music’s research includes evidence reviews, papers and reports consolidating relevant findings from across the music education sector and Youth Music funded projects. These documents will be of use to anyone interested in the effects of music making on children and young people.

Youth Music Impact reports:

Youth Music Research:

Music with young people in challenging circumstances

Stories/case studies written by Anita Holford and featuring music work with young people in challenging circumstances, supported through Youth Music’sMusical Inclusion programme. If you’re involved in working with young people through music and/or reaching young people who may be disengaged from learning and from life, then these stories will be of interest.

It’s been fascinating, and a privilege, to talk to these music leaders about their work and hear the stories of the young people they work with and the difference that music has started to make to their lives and futures. Thanks to everyone who I spoke to and all who have been involved.

Wiltshire Music Centre – Learning disabled young people: A place for us and for our creativity
Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership – Music Matters: Re-engaging vulnerable young people in learning and in life
Roses Theatre Tewkesbury & Gloucestershire Music Makers – Investing in a young music leader: small cost, for a long-term impact

Gloucestershire Music Makers – Michael’s story: from Hospital Education to performing live
Gloucestershire Music Makers – Charlie’s story: getting back into learning through music work in PRU setting
Gloucestershire Music Makers – Home-schooled pupil finds confidence and concentration through music

NB: The final three case studies were written earlier (a year or so ago) to advocate the work of Gloucestershire Music Makers (now called The Music Works) and the Make Music Gloucestershire music education hub.  For more about inclusion work in Gloucestershire, see the Music Changes Lives section of the Make Music Gloucestershire website.

To read more about musical inclusion work …

There’s a great book published by Music Mark and edited by Phil Mullen and Chris Harrison, called Reaching Out: music education with ‘hard to reach’ children and young people. Music Mark members can get it from their website at a reduced price. An important buy for anyone working with children and young people through music, particularly those involved in music education hubs.

More about Youth Music and Musical Inclusion

The National Foundation for Youth Music (Youth Music) is the leading UK children’s charity using music to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people. It develops, funds and supports exemplary music provision at every stage of a young person’s development. The Musical Inclusion programme is funding music work with children and young people in challenging circumstances across England – addressing gaps in provision, increasing opportunities, and improving effective practice and outcomes.

With thanks to Malcolm Pollock for the largest of the photos above; and to the projects for all other photos.