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Creativity in lockdown with Glasgow based charity The Sound Lab

We are introducing a new monthly feature on an organisation or project that the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) supports, and that works with one of their priority groups of young people.

These features will give a space for the organisation staff and participants to tell us their stories, and we are really looking forward to sharing these with you. This month we are kicking off with The Sound Lab.


The Sound Lab logoAt The Sound Lab we are driven by the ethos that “music matters”; we believe creative opportunities should be free and accessible to everyone, and have been putting this into action since we began in the east end of Glasgow in 2003.

Proudly grassroots and volunteer led, we enable hundreds of people every year to realise their creative potential in free, fun and engaging workshops and other creative opportunities provided by our expert tutors.

Having witnessed the joy, improved self-esteem and wellbeing that creative expression can bring, our motivation to deliver free music education has remained stronger than ever in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A group of volunteers stand in front of a graffiti wall in red tshirtsFunding from Creative Scotland YMI Fund has helped The Sound Lab, alongside our close partner Music Plus, deliver music education in different care settings for care experienced young people all across Scotland.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been dedicated to maintaining our service of free music workshops and support.

Music and creativity can at times be dismissed as a ‘nice to have’ but COVID-19 has really shown us the importance of our work – not just in the creative tuition and technical education, but, perhaps more importantly, in the relationships that many of the young people have built up with our tutors and volunteers.

We have kept the show on the road by maintaining our workshops (albeit digitally) and striving to keep continuity wherever possible.

Many of these have been one-to-one, just to maintain a supportive relationship. In some cases, we’ve sent young people instruments across Scotland, even as far as London for one young participant who had recently moved there, so they can continue learning and building on their musical skills.

As our face to face work has been put firmly on hold, we have developed a new program of digital delivery for people who face barriers in accessing these resources. Some are new partnerships, for example a new project working with some unaccompanied children and young people from Syria, Vietnam and Iraq, and others are existing projects that we’ve worked hard to sustain.

As well as our ongoing digital tuition we’ve been releasing weekly tutorials over social media from industry professionals within Scotland’s vibrant music scene.

These pre-recorded tutorials come from our bank of brilliant tutors, including DJ Rebecca Vasmant who teaches how to mix tracks seamlessly, Steg Gilfoyle from Sunny Govan Radio who provides an introduction to making beats, and insights to the song writing process from musician Deni Smith, amongst others.

We have also been supporting our volunteers to join in other community initiatives who have been working so hard to help people during the pandemic. The recent success of voluntary organisations such as Glasgow Mutual Aid has been testament to the spirit of Scotland’s communities, and due to people’s pressing needs over this period we saw a stark urgency to branch out beyond our usual remit.

Many of our volunteers have put in even more hours to join The Food Train, as ‘shoppers’ and delivery volunteers to assist elderly people who are vulnerable or shielding at this time. Another organisation we’ve linked up with is Maslow’s, a charity shop based in Govan who offer essential services to new arrivals in Scotland, including refugees and asylum seekers who can now gain access to food vouchers or essential deliveries, and get signposted to helpful groups in their area.

It seemed almost inconceivable in early 2020 that we would be facing a serious global crisis, affecting millions worldwide. Normal life looks very different, but for society’s most vulnerable (such as those who already feel isolated or marginalised), it has proved particularly challenging.

Enjoying art made by others, producing a piece of music, learning an instrument or writing a song can provide comfort to people in such uncertain times, and this shouldn’t be a privilege given only to those who can easily access it. For care experienced young people, having a trusted adult who is there to support them can make an unbelievable difference to their wellbeing.

If you know somebody who could benefit from The Sound Lab’s workshops or are interested in working with us, contact us via our website or social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

This article was published on 07 Jul 2020