1 - Jake, 17 - (Youth Work Ireland)
Jake took part in the IYMAs in 2015 with his local youth service, Youth Work Ireland Louth. “I've always loved music but was always afraid to get up and perform or to even create music. Taking part in the IYMAs was an incredible experience for me. Our IYMAs Team was full of amazing people who had similar interests and we all got on like a house on fire. The whole lead up to the national day was the most exhausting, amazing, life changing experience in my life to date! I got to explore my musical talent and work very hard to achieve certain goals. I did interviews with local news outlets. I loved every second of it.”
He represented his team and they went on to be chosen as the Recipient Region of the IYMAs 2015 Award.
“When Team Louth were chosen as the recipient region, it was the best feeling in the world, and if I could go back and watch our reaction I think I would be laughing because we literally went crazy!”
Taking part in the IYMAs continued to open many doors for Jake.
“After the huge success came numerous requests for performances, radio interviews, TV interviews, appearances etc. I was living my dream! I got to record an E.P in Temple Lane Recording Studios in Dublin with other members of Team Louth which was so amazing! I got to meet the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins and perform for him, and I feel incredibly honoured to have gotten the chance to do so! Honestly, the IYMA's has been the best experience in my life! It is life changing and I would definitely encourage all young people to get involved!”
2 - Sinéad, 19 (Youth Work Ireland)
Sinéad has been involved in the Irish Youth Music Awards (IYMAs) since 2014 with her local youth service, Youth Work Ireland Galway.
Through her involvement in the IYMAs, Sinéad has had many opportunities to grow and learn within her abilities as a musician. She has:
Been a part of her local IYMAs team for 4 years. Presented the National Day for IYMAs 2015.
Taken part in a national youth variety programme and won her category three times. Had the opportunity to perform on stage and at various events.
Recorded an original song on IYMAs Vol. 9 as part of her involvement in 2016.
Sinéad's involvement in a youth music project has helped her develop skills and grow.
"Independence and responsibility definitely! Through the project you have to show initiative, take control and do things for yourself and others. Not to mention the social side of it all! Attending the groups, organising events and meetups; and of course, collaborating with other young people in the group; it is a massive part of it. It's great to meet people with a similar interest! The support and experience in the group has really helped me grow my confidence in my performing; overcoming my stage fright was a big deal! But sharing my opinions, ideas and songs with the others was such a positive experience!"
Speaking about her experience presenting the IYMAs:
"Getting to present was a huge thing for me because it was something I'd never done before so I really came out of my comfort zone but wasn't put into an uncomfortable situation. I was happy to try out something new."
Music has always been an important part of her life, but being involved in a youth music project has really shown Sinéad just how important it was.
"Being part of the music scene in Youth Work Ireland made me realise how much music actually means to me and how badly I want to perform to be something of my everyday life or even profession."
3 - Steven, 18, (Youth Scotland)
Steven is from Paisley, Scotland and attends Renfrew YMCA. He was first introduced to the world of music performance a few years ago when he was asked to support a classmate at a local school talent contest. He had never played the guitar before. In a short time, he learned a few chords and performed in front of his peers. Steven loved the feeling of the crowd’s reaction to his playing and the new-found confidence this gave him. During his 5th and 6th year at school, Steven developed anger problems which caused issues at school and home that led to Steven being homeless. Steven found temporary accommodation through a homeless charity.
During this period, Steven was feeling low and lonely but continued to play and develop his music skills as a way to keep himself busy. Sometime later, Steven moved out of the homeless shelter and into his granddads home, however his granddad was suffering from Alzheimer's and Steven ended up caring for him. As a career, Steven did not have much of a social life so again he turned to his guitar to take him mentally to a better place.
When asked, Steven said he feels that playing and writing his own songs is a form of therapy that has in part calmed his anger issues and helped him see things from different viewpoints, so much so that he is now back at his family’s home.
During that time, he started to attend Renfrew YMCA, a youth organisation. They had just installed a new recording studio. This opened up a new world of musical opportunities for Steven to record his songs. Renfrew YMCA got involved with the Big Music Project and Steven was picked to go on a weekend residential with other young people to learn about youth music projects and how to develop and deliver them. Since September 2015, Steven had designed a 6-week block recording and songwriting workshop for other young people at Renfrew YMCA using what he learned at The Big Music Weekend.
Steven hopes to further develop the music workshops so that Renfrew YMCA is known as the go to place for youth music in the area. Steven now sees new possibilities and opportunities previously not open to him through the exposure of the Big Music Project events and residential which he attended. They have given him the confidence and self- belief to not only design his own youth music workshops for Renfrew YMCA, but to help other young people going through difficult times and help them to use music as a positive way to channel what they are experiencing.
4 - Naomi,16 (Youth Scotland)
Before joining The Big Music Project, Naomi led a difficult life. She found it difficult to concentrate (she battles with various mental health conditions including ADHD) and struggled with her concentration levels and writing. At school, she found it difficult to learn in large group class settings and became quite disruptive.
Naomi joined The Big Music Project in July 2016, attending her local hub meetings and other programmes her local YMCA offered. David, her youth worker identified at an early stage that Naomi had a real talent for DJing and this was her support in her daily struggles. Since being involved with The Big Music Project, she has started running her own DJ events under the name of DJ Poodle and has found a certain enthusiasm for making it as a professional DJ. This has come through her enjoyment of music production, great network of friends and socialising skills through the project. She has been promoting and attending events such as The Big Music Champions Development Day – of which her music was played during the setup of the Open Mic Session, or her own events.
David has been a great support to Naomi, assisting her with marketing, promotion through other music platforms. She now manages her own SoundCloud, constantly discussing potential opportunities and networking with external contacts. Without David’s support, Naomi would of struggled engaging in daily activities and through this has helped Naomi to realise her skill in music as well as her passion.
Her next step is to host her own DJ event, from ticketing, promoting and getting the acts together for night. She has become self-aware of her own actions and how they can affect the relationship with other people as well as developing her communication and networking skills, all through the opportunities provided by The Big Music Project, and from other contacts provided by her own DJ Mentor.
Naomi is now in a place where she can put a good amount of time into developing her own DJ aspirations through the placement provided to her by the Paisley YMCA in partnership with her school, and it’s clear to see that her attention has increased. She does extremely well on projects; she’s passionate about what she does and aims to inspire other young musical minded people with the same passion that she does.
5 - Michael, 20 (Youth Cymru)
Michael has been attending the Andrew Kent Music Academy (AKMA) since the age of 13. He was referred to the AKMA because of his anti-social behaviour in school and around the community. Michael would produce graffiti art on private and public property.
Michael was one of five young people that attended the AKMA weekly session at the local youth club, where it was carried out in a small room with borrowed equipment. Michael would often be the only the person to attend these sessions and, youth worker, Wayne would make the effort to put on the sessions. Michael feels
“Wayne must have seen something in me to have invested so much time in me."
In the early stages, Michael would often “go off the rails” and Wayne would get him back on track by coming to his home, speaking with him and his parents. Michael’s passion for music was so obvious that it was often used as punishment when he did not behave. Not being able to go to sessions would mean that Michael would focus on his behaviour, thus his anti-social behaviour ceased to be an issue. Michael feels that this was because the support from the AKMA gave him a reason to “want to be at home on my laptop working on music rather than being out in the streets.” The AKMA not only helped Michael change his behaviour but develop as a person in regard to confidence and communication skills.
Michael has represented the AKMA and spoke at conferences which helped him conduct himself accordingly because, as Michael said,
“I had to speak to different people that I would not interact with on a day-to-day basis.” Michael has also helped Wayne with funding applications. The AKMA has helped Michael be the person he is today, so much so that he stated that if it didn’t exist he “would not have a good job, would not be in the relationship I’m in now, would not have a house – simply would not have this good life I have now.”
AKMA has helped Michael accomplish every goal he has set himself in regard to music, including DJing in the nightclub Oceana in Swansea at 15, DJing at Swansea biggest club Escape at 17, DJing in Magaluf at 17, DJing in Ibiza for a year with one of its most popular nights, to name few. Now, at the age of 20, Michael is a record label owner. Even though, Michael has gone on to do so much and discover himself “Wayne is still my biggest influence” and continues to invest his time in the AKMA.
Looking back, Michael said
“at the time I thought that Wayne was simply helping and pushing me with my music, but now I see that he is putting me on the straight and narrow.”