Category Archives: projects

Carers Bromley (Young Carers), Bromley, 2016

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Early in August, Community Music In Action invited two artists, Sarah Weiler, a ukulele singer/songwriter and Rob Grundel, a multi instrumental musician who plays in a Hip hop band called Unexpected Guests, to meet some young carers from Carers Bromley for two days of music making.

On Thursday 4 August, seventeen young people aged 8–10 years attended the first ‘Song in a Day’ workshop. The following day comprised of twelve of the older age group (12 -18 years).

Using a mixture of ukuleles, piano, a digital beat maker and singing, Sarah, Rob and the young people spent the mornings playing games, learning the ukulele and getting to know each other by playing a few songs together.

“It was great to watch two groups of children,  most who had never met before,
have an opportunity to work together, encourage and learn from each other and produce a small piece of art that was authentic and true to them.”

Rob Grundel, Workshop Leader

By the afternoon the young carers were all in full creative mode writing lyrics and putting them to music.
It was great to see how quickly everyone picked up the chords and
strumming together, although there were some sore fingers by the end of the day! The musicality achieved in such a short time was fantastic.

At lunchtime, new friendships were forming as the young people sat in the sunshine and got to know each other and by the end of both days they were able to deliver whole songs performed with pride.

“At the end of each session we had participants share one thing
they liked that someone else did. It gave a huge amount of confidence to
those participants who had not been sure about their own
contribution to have it validated by their peers”

Rob Grundel, Workshop leader

As the youngsters left at the end of the day they were talking happily to their families about what they had been doing. It was great to see young people with very responsible roles at home enjoying themselves and having some well earned ‘me time’.

Q&A with Sarah Weiler

How do you think the beneficiaries for the project responded to the activities? Can you share any moments that stand out for you?

Really positive on both days. On the first day everyone participated the whole time and the staff were commenting how well the children were all getting on. They were volunteering to do solos and write raps and we could see them grow in confidence over the day. We ran a gratitude circle at the end and pupils had to say something they liked about another group member – this was a real confidence boost for them eg. One girl said: “I had no idea people liked my playing that much.”

On the second day the young people responded really well to writing their own song and they were buzzing with ideas. Three girls in particular stood out because they led the whole rehearsal: delegating parts to different performers and suggesting ways everyone could be involved.
One of the main outcomes is that everyone got to shine doing something they loved, whether that was singing, song-writing, leading or rapping. We created a safe atmosphere for everyone to take part.

Has this project had an impact on your own personal or professional ways of working?

It was great to have a whole day to run the workshop and see what could evolve. Most workshops I’ve run recently have been for half a day or over a series of weeks. It’s amazing what can be achieved if you have them for a whole day. I will definitely get more groups to write their own songs (rather than re-write lyrics) as I have seen that it’s definitely possible!

Project Aims

  • to provide musical activities for Young Carers at Carers Bromley during the summer holidays that young people are enthusiastic about and enjoy being a part of
  • to provide a time of respite for the Young Carers and allow them to socialise with other young carers, and build friendships through learning a skill and making music together
  • to inspire young people and enable them to express themselves
  • to encourage the enjoyment of making music as a group, and have fun
  • to learn a new skill and improve rhythm techniques, learning from a professional
  • to include everyone and make activities inclusive to all participants
  • to document the project through film / photos
  • to encourage collaboration, community spirit and a sense of achievement

“A moment of the project that stood out for me was watching the 8-12 year olds as they were learning Titanium by Sia on the ukulele,  singing along without any
self-consciousness and creating a beautiful sound’

Rob Grundel, Workshop Leader

Project Leaders

Sarah Weiler has an eclectic set of skills which include teacher, coach, workshop facilitator, trainer, stand-up comedian, songwriter, musician and events organiser. She is passionate about helping people reconnect with their inner child and enjoy life a little more!

Rob Grundel is a software designer, musician, writer and improviser and the founder of Somekind, a London-based story consultancy. He has over 10 years’ experience in the computing industry and more than 20 in music and writing. He performs regularly with Unexpected Guests and Abandoman.


CASPA project, Bromley, May 2016

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On 15 May Community Music In Action started a 12 week music project with the charity CASPA, who provide inspirational activities and opportunities for children and young people with high functioning autism.

The wonderful musician and session leader Ned Smith started work with the CASPA interns, a group of 9-13 year olds. The project was joined in week four by singer songwriter, Priscilla Andersohn, who continued with Ned in the next phase of the project.

“These kids need encouraging to think outside the box musically
and to step away from playing the same tunes that they have
heard before. With time and encouragement I’m hoping
they will break away from the safety of well known tunes and do
something different, without feeling like it has to be
played exactly like this or like that, It is a freeing and
great process to be a part of”

Ned Smith, Musician / Creative Lead,

They spent the first few weeks exploring ideas of what music is to them, what they like and dislike and playing games that covered their ideas surrounding composition.

Each week they took turns at playing a variety of instruments including the keyboard, guitar, djembe, percussion and, of course, the voice. It was a time for listening to each other. It was not about concentration but the musical awareness of what each other were doing.

“It has been such a pleasure to be in the creative space
with these youngsters.”

Priscilla, Musician & Session leader

During the first four weeks the children started to construct ideas from the experiences they have had and snow balling that experience creatively.

                                  “All the children are coming in asking
‘when is my music session?!’”

Zoey, Inters Project Manager CASPA

In weeks 5 and 6 the ideas had started shaping up and a number of pieces were emerging that will potentially be performed or recorded.

The emergence of a girl band and their song “Phat Cats R Cool”  shaped up nicely with Layla on vocals, Sophie and Maddie on keys and Chloe on percussion and vocals. This song emerged from a pass the sound game, which was put together with a beat. A rap was improvised over the jam and Boom! ‘Phat cats’ were born!

“Ella has been here for 5 years and I have not
seen her focus for that long.”

Lucy, Inters Volunteer – CASPA 13/5/16

There was keen interest in the digital recording of music and Ned used a software application called GarageBand with the groups to capture their ideas, which provided a record of their ideas and music, to listen back to.

Alfie & Clarke have been particularly keen and  focused on the elements involved in the recording process.

Whilst the original intention of the project was to prepare performances for the annual CASPA Got Talent showcase, because the date of this event was brought forward to June, it was decided that the young people would record their performances so that their achievements could be shared more widely with family, friends, CASPA and CMIA.  So on the 15 July, Ned and Priscilla pulled together the tracks that the young people had recorded and these have been posted throughout this blog for your listening pleasure.

There were a total of 18 young people who attended the project, with 11 attending weekly.

“A beautiful moment for me personally in this project was when all the children went for a walk in the woods except Ella, who stayed behind with Lucy to work with Priscilla one to one on a new song on her own. From a piano part she had been creating at school she talked with Priscilla about summertime and after getting down the key words, Ella was able to thread the lines together. Ella had a moment of uncertainty when trying to play and say words at the same time and was convinced she couldn’t do it! She taught me the piano part and then after we did it together a few times I sat back while she re-taught me a bit and she was doing it all herself! Fantastic development in a short space of time. She was so focused and patient with me. After this moment of achievement Priscilla brought out a small finger piano and showed Ella how to press a rhythm with both hands. The result was spell binding, Ella sitting quietly improvising her way round this gentle instrument… Stunning!”

Helen, CMIA Project Manager

“Ned and Priscilla both have a really gentle and organic way of
letting the children explore their own musicality –
It is a joy to see in action the simplest of games
creating the fundamental basics of
composition with astounding results!

Helen Lolljee, CMIA Project Manager

Project aims

* give participants the opportunity to engage in creative activities with inspirational professionals

* help them to express themselves in positive ways

* communicate to others what it is like living in their worlds and explore their perspective through singing and songwriting

* raise the aspirations of the young people

* deliver a live performance in the form of a ‘show’ to share with our family, friends and communities – the charity have already planned this event for 15 July 2016

“The staff are really supporting the flow. They really know the children well and are fantastic at getting everyone’s needs met without any pressure to take part.  Just to be in the room is a fantastic experience.”

 Ned Smith, Musician/ Creative Lead

Below is an interview with Alfie and Ruben, two of the young participants, who talk about their highlights & achievements.



Clairleigh Nursing Home Project, Bromley, Summer 2015

In 2012, Community Music in Action delivered a project that worked with the elderly users of ‘White Gables ‘, a day centre in Bromley, set up by the Alzheimer’s Society. The music sessions, led by Kim Perkins, were such a success we have asked her to work with us again on a similar project this year at Clairleigh Nursing Home.

Kim is delivering an hour long music session each week, for the duration of the ten week project. Each weekly session has a different musical focus, for example folk, classical, popular, jazz and world music, as well as music made for the stage and screen. The sessions explore singing, percussion and instrumental music. CMIA will be purchasing a djembe drum, which will be gifted to Clairleigh for the residents to use in future music sessions within the home.

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During the first session the focus was on confidence and 2-part singing, drawing on African songs, rock ’n’ roll numbers, and writing new lyrics to the folk classic ’The River is Flowing’. The workshop ended with a knees up – with the group showing Kim how a knees up is really done!

“One of the participants has a really good ear and picks up rhythms
from the piano accompaniment that she adds whilst singing;
she was our Ringo Starr today. The group really enjoyed songs like
Dream, Why do fools fall in love and Let’s Twist Again.
They channelled their inner teenager for Satisfaction (I can’t get no) and
sang songs in 2-parts adding shoowops, doowops
and da do rons, typical of the idiom.”

Kim Perkins, Workshop Leader

In one of the following weeks the group explored songs from around the world: including songs in Spanish, Sesotho and Polynesian. The participants were really open to new experiences and material. They mashed up Guantanamera with Twist and Shout, sang welcome in Arabic, and Que Sera Sera for their oldie but goody number!

Another session explored jazz classics with the group, exploring songs by Cab Calloway, Nina Simon, Peggy Lee and more.  The group discovered walking basslines – particularly as they sang 5 songs in one. But the most fun came from their warm-up of “Mama Don’t Allow” and “Down Down” as the group really got into vocalising, and singing in parts with guest musician Ruth on the bass helping to hold the tune with one group and the rest harmonising with Kim, the workshop leader.

Music is a huge motivator for the group who often go about their daily activities either individually i.e. watching television in their rooms, or in small groups. So coming together as a group of 15-18 to sing has been really exciting.

“They’ll be happy the rest of the day now”

 “Member of staff, Clairleigh

Rock’n’roll week had the participants singing hits by Little Richard, The Beatles and Elvis. Luckily this didn’t encourage too much of a rebellious streak but definitely lots of singing and drumming. When they were singing ‘She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah), Anne, one of the participants said how one of her children used to sing “yeah yeah yeah” in the pram after hearing that song when it was first released.

Project Aims

  • to enhance the general wellbeing of and raise the spirits of participants through collaborative music making and an enjoyable shared experience, bringing the residents of Clairleigh together.
  • To benefit residents with dementia, for whom specific music may help them to recall past experiences, and personal memories.
  • To improve vocal and rhythm techniques and sing songs in different genres, learning from a professional.~

  • To include everyone and make activities accessible to all participants.

  • To work towards a final performance event for carers to attend.

  • To document the project through film/photos.

  • To encourage collaboration, community spirit and a sense of achievement.

Project Leader

Kim Perkins is an active workshop leader who works with members of the community helping to discover and explore their creativity. Trained classically in flute and piano, she graduated from the University of York in 2004 with a BA in Music. During her studies Kim developed a passion for community music, volunteering as a key member of Music Education Group which provided workshops for school children in York. After university she worked at the Royal Academy of Music Museum for over four years as Museum Project Coordinator. In this role she was responsible for managing various aspects of the museum including the project management and delivery of outreach events and educational resources, organising major events including conferences, fundraising and policy development.

St. Hugh’s Youth Project, Anerley, August 2015

Following the success of last year’s project, Community Music in Action returned to St Hugh’s Community Centre in Anerley, to deliver a second music project.

Funded with a grant from Affinity Sutton, the 4 day ‘summer workshop’ for young people aged 8-13 years was led by musician, Aaron Duncan. Over the course of the week, Aaron guided the young people through the process of writing, producing and recording their own original song.

Monday morning saw 12 kids arrive feeling somewhat apprehensive. In amongst the group it was great to see some familiar faces from last year and this helped everyone bond and feel at ease. After some musical games, Aaron kicked off a brainstorming session about global issues. The subject of ‘War’ came through strongly and all agreed this would be a great theme for the song. The kids got straight to work on lyric writing and by the end of the day had the basis of a really inspiring song.



“This course is great, instead of laying in bed or playing my Xbox
I’m learning some really cool stuff and making friends”

Workshop Attendee

Over the next two days, Aaron helped the group fine tune their lyrics and structure the song, agree vocalists and add the lyrics to melodies and then a sound track. Everyone in the group had a part either singing or rapping and with encouragement and support from Aaron, they all became more comfortable in delivering their lyrics with confidence. It was great to see some real talent shining through.

“I usually feel so shy singing in front of people but each day
I come to this course I feel more and more confident”

“Workshop Attendee

The kids practised their parts really hard and by Thursday were ready to record their vocals. An excited bunch entered the recording studio at Anerley Town Hall and emerged smiling, proudly clutching a copy of their own original song.

We also were delighted with what they achieved; please listen here to their track “War Stories”….

Project Objectives

  • provide a stimulating and engaging summer activity for local young people
  • give young people the opportunity to experience some of the processes involved in writing, recording and producing music
  • through music, help young people to develop their self-confidence and ability to express themselves
  • build cohesion among the young people

Project Leader

Aaron Duncan is a skilled artist practitioner with a proven track record in providing creative workshops and short courses for young people in and around London. He currently coordinates a youth recording studio in Anerley Town Hall called The Mixtape Project, where he provides drop-in style recording sessions, artist development courses and educational music programmes.

This is the first of four music projects that CMIA are funding this summer. Watch this space for more information.

Castlecombe project, Mottingham, 2015

Our first project this year sees us working again with the under 5 age group. Community Music in Action collaborated with the Bromley Children Project to offer weekly music sessions for pre school aged children and their parents. This was led by professional musician Barbara Cavanagh at the Castlecombe Centre in Mottingham. The centre provides activities and courses for parents and children under 5 and of primary age. Although it offers a universal service, it particularly reaches out to families in the community who are not presently accessing the services it offers e.g. those who are on government benefits/low income, households with no-one in employment, those with low levels of education and ethnic minority groups.

Barbara has worked with us in the past on another of our projects at the Community Vision centre, again with pre-school age children.


During the sessions, which ran weekly between January and March,  Barbara led the children in a mixture of music & movement. She started the sessions with a welcome song which was the same each week and by the end of the sessions the mums and the older children knew it off by heart.

There were action songs using parts of the body and numbers, songs using props and instruments, and songs which involved moving around the room. Popular songs for the latter included ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, ‘Here We Go Loopy Loo’ and a really catchy less well known song called ‘Tip Tap Tip Tap, We’re Walking Down the Street’. One of the Mum’s asked if it was possible to download this one to sing at home!

As well as percussion instruments such as shakers, tambours & bells, Barbara also used everyday household objects like old packaging, pans, spoons and milk bottle tops for the children to explore and make music with.

“It was fun observing the children listening to real instruments”

Monika, Parent

There were also parts of the session that were more quiet and peaceful. Fabric snowflakes and bubbles were a particular hit – with accompanying music and songs.

It was good to see the confidence of the Mums / carers grow over the weeks – when they first arrived they were reluctant to join in the singing but after a few sessions their confidence had grown and they were participating more fully, as were the children.

“Barbara was a nice teacher and made me and my baby feel
very welcome. There was a lovely warm
atmosphere during the sessions.”


Barbara encouraged interaction between the parents and children and shared ideas for how they could use music at home to support their children’s development.  Whilst not all the mums were from our target group, having a mix actually had its benefits as there was more diversity.  One of the mums put on her feedback form that it made her feel more positive towards the rest of the day and another said that the session made her baby calmer.

“The children particularly liked using the household objects to make music with. Hopefully it will give the parents ideas for things they could do at home.”

Ros Bolton CMIA Trustee and Project Volunteer

In the evaluation at the end of the sessions, the majority of attendees reported that they had developed new skills and confidence as a result of the sessions and that the experience had a positive impact on themselves and their child. One said “we sing more often” while another claimed that it “made me feel more positive towards the rest of the day”. A further parent reported that the sessions have “turned my baby into a musician!”

“The sessions provided a social and creative activity, in a safe and
enabling environment. It encouraged interaction
between carers and their children and also between
carers themselves. The atmosphere
was relaxed and friendly”

Barbara Cavanagh
Workshop Leader


  • To provide a creative and social activity for under 5’s and their parents/carers.
  • To foster interaction and quality time between parent/carer and child, both during and outside of the sessions
  • To provide an opportunity for social interaction and community cohesion between local parents/families
  • To use music as a tool to develop skills and confidence of under 5’s
  • To provide a safe, flexible and non-intimidating environment for families who may not have taken part in similar activities before
  • To ensure sessions are accessible to all cultures and backgrounds
  • To document the sessions through film/photographs


Barbara Cavanagh is an Early Years music practitioner, and a musician. She is currently in her second year at Birmingham City University, studying for an MA in Early Years Music Education.

Living Well, Penge, Summer 2014

Back in the summer of 2014, Community Music In Action, delivered a project working with the users of a charity called Living Well.

Living Well is a charity started in a Penge church which partners with a number of organisations to provide help and support to local vulnerable people. Partners include Bromley Drug and Alcohol Service (BDAS), Bromley Police Community Support and Bromley Mind.

It provides a food bank three times a week, a hot meal with community activities on Fridays and an art therapy group on Mondays as well as friendship and support through volunteers who form a community together with service users.

The volunteers at Living Well saw that some of the users of their service had various musical skills / interests and there had been many occasions where spontaneous music making and / or singing has taken place. They recognised that what was needed was an facilitator to come and work with them to provide a structure / support to work within and help to give focus and encouragement to members lacking in confidence.

The workshop leader, Gary Day was chosen to facilitate a series of informal/flexible music sessions over a period of six weeks.

During these sessions Gary worked closely with a group of 10-15 people, and together they came up with which songs they would like to learn. Gary brought along a variety of equipment each week including microphones, guitars and amps, and keyboards. They were also taught how to make music using an ipad, which proved very popular! The sessions were pretty informal and Gary gave them a certain amount of autonomy as to what they wanted to do. The aim is that the community will carry on with these music sessions after Gary leaves.

“I noticed on a few different occasions that when some people were singing(improvising) they really expressed
the feelings they had during that day/moment which
seemed quite therapeutic for the singers!”

 Gary Day, Project Leader


Project Aims

  • identify musical skills and abilities
  • facilitate music by providing lyric sheets and resources and support needed i.e. lyrics/chord charts, instrument coaching etc…
  • identify musical leaders to lead the sessions after Gary leaves
  • Provide support to people who may wish to write their own original material
  • organise instrument swapping sessions for people to experience and try different instruments
  • introduce music software using Ipads.

“I helped my friend overcome her shyness as we sang together”

Workshop participant

Project Leader

Gary Day has been working in the field of accessible, inclusive music making and education since 2001, providing training and support in assistive music technology for teachers and teaching staff, musicians, music therapists, youth workers and freelance artists.

He works directly in the delivery of music workshops to all age groups within different settings, including FE colleges, universities, youth centres, hospitals, private homes and care homes.

Additionally, he also provide training and support in using the Sounds of Intent musical framework and delivers Arts Awards and ‘Introduction To Music’ APT-ED modules through Drake Music and Garden of Music.

Gary also writes, produces and performs his own music.

Young Carers, Bromley, August 2014

Following the success of last summer, Community Music In Action revisited the young people at Carers Bromley for two days back in August for a brand new project.

We teamed up with ‘Inspire-works’, whose facilitator Catherine Ring delivered samba drumming to the young people, and together they created enough rhythmic energy to get the whole room grooving in time to the latin beat.

The deep pounding surdo drums with the syncopated overlayered sounds comprised of an assortment of percussive instruments, created an amazing carnival sound that transported the participants to Rio de Janeiro!

Over the course of the two days they were taught a traditional piece of Brazilian samba batucada, learnt the roles of the different instruments and played a variety of patterns, breaks and rhythmic responses in an ensemble.


  • To provide samba drumming for young carers during the summer holidays that young people are enthusiastic about and enjoy being part of.
  • To provide a time of respite for young carers and allow them to socialise with other young carers, and build friendships through making music together.
  • To inspire young people and enable them to express themselves.
  • To include everyone and make activities accessible to all participants.
  • To document the project through film/photos.
  • To encourage collaboration, community spirit and a sense of achievement.

“Catherine was very friendly and capable. She fully engaged
all the young people and their evaluations
of the project were very positive”

Carers Bromley


Catherine is a freelance percussionist, based in London. Her experience ranges from classical orchestral percussion to Brazilian music and hand percussion. Some of her drum kit experience includes an on-stage role in Clod Ensemble’s “An Anatomie” at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. She has worked with artists such as Dionne Warwick and Imogen Heap, as well as having vast experience in the classical music world.

A strong interest in the music of Brazil led Catherine to gain a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. This permitted her to travel to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador to conduct research into samba music and dance and it’s effect on children and the community. Since then, she returned to Brazil twice more and performed alongside Monobloco and Sargento Pimenta in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most prestigious venues. This year, she made her Notting Hill Carnival debut playing Maracatu with Mariana Pinho and the Yamuna Yemanja project.

Catherine is an enthusiastic teacher and collaborator. She regularly delivers samba, West African drumming and other percussion workshops both privately and through Inspire-Works. Alongside her teaching at Eltham College and with Southwark Music Service, she has been involved in LSO Discovery work, Wigmore Hall education, LPO Funharmonics and ETO education department.

Catherine worked with 4 schools in West London earlier this year to prepare them for a Guinness World Record attempt. Alongside a further 23 schools, they managed to break the record for the World’s Largest Samba Band in March 2014.


Inspire-works was devised by its two core members, Mike and Jacqui Simpson a professional musician/teacher and a theatre director/teacher of dance & drama respectively, who studied and researched Balinese arts whilst living on the island. They call upon the expertise, knowledge and practical approach of additional facilitators who may be used as workshop leaders or assistants.

Inspire-works work with over 60,000 children and young adults in over 500 schools throughout southeast England each academic year.