Switch It: Supporting Vulnerable Young People in Hartlepool

For those unfamiliar with the project, Switch It is a musical intervention for vulnerable young people who live in areas of large deprivation such as Hartlepool in the North East of England.

The programme supports young people’s social and emotional development through targeted musical activities delivered by a team of specialist music leaders and youth service practitioners.

At Switch It’s recent Participation Group they invited Sam Ward-Hardy from Jack Drum Arts to deliver a Brazilian drumming workshop for their young musicians. Mr Ward-Hardy is a young leader who recieved a Winston Churchill Fellowship Grant and who recently travelled  to Brazil to spend five months studying traditional and contemporary percussion.

Sam’s visit was an eye opener for the young musicians for several reasons; firstly Sam’s experiences in Brazil, his enthusiasm and skills as a workshop leader gave the students a great example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. The workshop was also a chance for the pupils to experience something completely different, learning Maracatu rhythms and playing traditional Brazilian instruments which was new to them and was a great way to learn about different cultures and traditions.

Switch It

Sam Ward-Hardy leading a Bazillion music workshop as part of a Switch It project.

This experience took the young musicians out of their comfort zone and exposed them to unusual instruments and complex multi-part rhythms. To the delight of Sam Ward-Hardy, they rose to the challenge and succeeded in learning and performing two rhythms: ljexe and Ogum.

Some comments from the young musicians included; “Fantastic, the music was great”, “amazing night” and “My arm is dead!”

One aim of the Participation Group was to show young people some potential career/development opportunities and that there are different routes for different people. Sam commented on this: “I have taken a very non-traditional and non-academic route in terms of working within the community music scene, so you don’t need to necessarily be good at theory or to have climbed up the Grades. It’s perfectly fine just to have lots of passion and drive.”

The workshop gave Sam an opportunity to work with a new and different project, he says this increased his own understanding of working with young people. “They were a very quiet group so it required a lot of energy to make sure the workshop moved forward with momentum.”

Switch It

Switch It say the project is invaluable to young people in the region who often feel neglected or are suffering from mental health, social or economic issues. These workshops serve as a reminder to themselves and those like them in the wider community that there are life-changing opportunities out there. Switch It’s goal is to highlight the benefits of young leadership programmes and inspire teenagers to go onto achieve their very best.

Judging by the responses from participants of the music workshop, they appear to have fulfilled their objective.


Credit: Tim Coyte | Switch It Project Coordinator