Transforming Communities

The Stoller Charitable Trust Programme, September 2016 – August 2017

LMN North West musician, Elinor Nicholson, at the LMN UK musicians practice forum, London, Jan 17  – Photo credit: Ivan Gonzalez

The Stoller Charitable Trust has generously supported Live Music Now providing significant investment in LMN North West’s activities, enabling us to develop new partnerships, revisit existing partners and invest in the quality of training for our musicians. Over the past 12 months, the funding has enabled LMN North West to deliver a varied programme of x90 music sessions to young disadvantaged people including those with disabilities as well as disadvantaged older people living in residential care. The grant has provided employment and training for 26 of our talented North West LMN musicians and vital core funding for the branch.

The funding has been used to support four strands of our work in 2016/17:

1. Special Schools Programme

We have successfully worked with both of Oldham’s special schools this year as part of our new SEND Inspire programme – a training pathway to equip our musicians with the skills to work with children with complex needs and disabilities in partnership with host special schools.

– LMN Musicians in Residence at Kingfisher School

We launched our 2-year Musician in Residence programme at Kingfisher Community Special School in September 16.  LMN musician Caroline Waddington (clarinet) has provided regular music sessions throughout the year for small groups of children and helped the school develop their new music curriculum. The school has been delighted with the impact of the music sessions, promoting children’s communication, engagement and sensory experiences.

“Some of our ASD children have be able to access some 1-1 sessions. Due to Caroline’s musical knowledge she has been able to use colour and pattern to teach one child some piano – this is amazing!” – Kingfisher School

Caroline’s lessons are beautiful and the use of the clarinet provoked responses from the children that l am unable to gain in the classroom. The pace of the lessons was great and the time given to each child was equally suitable. She created a calm atmosphere allowing the children to feel comfortable and relaxed.” – Class Teacher, Kingfisher School

In addition to the residency we have also provided concerts for the whole school – Borealis Saxophone Quartet, 12th January 2017 and Slidin’ About Trombone Quartet, 16th June 2017:

Slidin’ About at Kingfisher Special School, Oldham

It has been a very rewarding partnership with the school who have shared photos and videos of some of the concerts and music sessions with parents and families: We have selected LMN violinist Jess Hall to continue this work next year and will also work with the school to provide two embedded training projects for other musicians.

– LMN Musicians in Residence at New Bridge School

We are pleased to have developed our relationship with New Bridge School this past year, providing 2x 11 week residency programmes – with Katie Williams (flute) and Elinor Nicholson (harp) in the spring term, followed by Delia Stevens and Ben Sayah from Kabantu (formerly known as Project Jam Sandwich) in the summer term.

“Students became very engaged with the projects that were given to them. One student in particular was engaged and performed to a high degree, where he would normally be ‘too cool’ to participate. Students in our PMLD group responded with movement, reaching for instruments etc., and for some of them that is quite the feat! Staff who have engaged with LMN have become much more aware of musical skills in the classroom.” – Class Teacher, New Bridge School

The school wrote a wonderful blog about the LMN project, which can be seen here:

In addition, the whole school (both at the New Bridge School and New Bridge Learning Centre sites) have enjoyed concerts from Borealis Saxophone Quartet in May 2017 and Kabantu in July 2017

– Bridgewater Hall Concerts for special schools and families

LMN musicians provided three ‘Be Hear Now’ musical discovery sessions for young people (aged 0-19 years) with special educational needs and their families across the region. We also provided three participatory concerts for small groups from local special schools – Tir Eolas (folk duo) and Kabantu in April 2017 and Borealis Saxophone Quartet in June 2017.

“Be Hear Now has developed into one of the most important strands of The Bridgewater Hall and The Bridgewater Hall Community Education Trust’s programme of work. Staff, volunteers and participants alike all look forward to each event, with regulars contacting the Hall in advance to enquire about future sessions. Live Music Now are incredibly professional and make the event organisation extremely smooth and the quality of the performers and workshop leaders is consistently excellent. We look forward to expanding on the current work we do with Live Music Now.” – Paula Wilson, Learning & Participation Manager at The Bridgewater Hall


2. Community Programme

–  Live Music Now at The Sunbeams Music Centre

It has been wonderful to be part of the opening of the Sunbeams Music Centre – a beautiful new venue in Cumbria which will provide a home for The Sunbeams Music Trust’s community music programme.  We selected three LMN groups to be Musicians in Residence at the Centre – The Absentees (folk duo), Kabantu (world music) and Bird & Family Bryan (folk music).  During their visits to Sunbeams, they performed for mixed community groups at the Centre, including older people, adults with learning disabilities and school groups, and visited some rurally isolated groups of older people, special schools, primary schools and those receiving end of life care.  Feedback from Sunbeams and audiences has been incredibly positive, many commenting on the quality of the musicianship demonstrated by the LMN musicians as well as their warm and engaging approach and responsiveness to the needs of the different audience groups.


Kabantu performing for a mixed age audiences at Sunbeams Performance Hall, May 2017
“There was a particularly lovely interaction between Katie (violin) and a lady who had whispered that she used to play violin at school and in the orchestra.  Katie gave her the violin to play.  The lady was rather nervous but enjoyed holding a violin again and they had a lovely musician-to-musician interaction about the various merits of cushion supports on the neck and the advantages of petite fingers!  It was lovely to listen to.” St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston

“It was noticeable that even those with limited mobility were engaging with the music to the full extent of their movement. One lady was using the tray in front of her wheelchair as a drum and was leaning forward and turning her head when Nic player near her, even though she relied on a head support for most of the time”. The Absentees at Carleton Day Centre, Carlisle

–  New Development Projects in Oldham – Mahdlo

We were very pleased to develop two new projects with Mahdlo – a state-of-the-art Youth Zone which delivers high quality activities and experiences for young people from Oldham aged 8-19 (25 with a disability) to enhance the quality of their lives and provide support services for those who need additional help to achieve their potential.

The first of these took place in August 2017 with Joe Bronstein (viola) and Jess Hall (violin). Joe and Jess ran a series of x5 workshops for young people as part of the centre’s Ability holiday club:


Joe Bronstein leading a workshop session at Mahdlo Youth Zone

“The musicians were excellent and it was a high point in our music offer. They pitched the workshops at the right level and were responsive to the needs of our young people.” – Mahdlo

Delia Stevens and Ben Sayah (from Kabantu) will also be working with the Senior Zone on x5 evening sessions to compose and then perform a new piece of music with young people at the centre, providing an opportunity to share what they create with their friends and family at a special culmination event in October.

3. Musicians Development Programme

The grant has allowed us to continue to invest in training and support of LMN North West musicians by providing induction and mentoring for x4 new musicians (Borealis Saxophone Quartet) in 2016, with a further x9 set to join the scheme in 2017.

In January 2017 Live Music Now held a musicians practice forum in London and we were able to fund x10 North West musicians’ attendance – the day provided the opportunity for networking with other LMN musicians from across the UK, sharing ideas and accessing training/refresher sessions on topics such use of accessible technology and dementia awareness.

Evan Dawson, Executive Director, LMN speaking at the Musicians’ Practice Forum, London

“I felt a fresh sense of purpose and inspiration to keep working creatively as possible in every scenario I find work in as a freelance musician. It was good to know that nearly everyone in the room met similar struggles in their own sessions and I took away some new variations on ideas.” – NW Musician

Thank you once again to the Stoller Charitable Trust, Sir Norman and the Trustees for supporting our work.  The grant has allowed us to provide much needed musical enjoyment and interaction for disadvantaged groups in Oldham and the North West.

Amy Ward, Project Manager
Karen Irwin, Branch Director
31 August 2017



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