Spotlight - Youth Music and the Environment

Every month, the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) puts the spotlight on an activity or strand of work that is important to them.

The youth music community is truly inspiring in their work surrounding the environment. This month, we bring to you a round-up of activities and resources from across the sector related to the climate crisis, climate justice, and COP26.

From Reel Youth Media’s COP26-themed cover of 'Stand By Me' winning the best cover prize by Make Music Day UK, to the spectacular 'Vital Signs of the Planet' concert from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which featured cinematic visuals, courtesy of NASA and National Geographic, the diversity of youth music-making on this topic continues to astonish.

Glasgow CREATE’s resource I am the Earth. sums it up best; their city-wide project saw primary and secondary schools each taking part and the song, written by composer Glyn Lehmann with Gaelic translation from Beverley Darroch, shares Glasgow's message to the world: "We share the future...One Earth, One People..."

Let it Grow – Oi Musica

“A tidal wave of music making is underway - adding to the growing international call for radical action on climate change. From carnival creations in South London, youth bands in Greater Manchester and nursery children in rural Scotland to Glasgow hip hop and music makers across the globe - everyone is welcome! We believe that together we can intensify public pressure at COP26, and have some creative fun!

'Enough is Enough’ was composed to invite choirs, community ensembles, musicians, schools and anyone else to add their voice. The song is licensed via the Creative Commons, allowing for adaptation and interpretation and encouraging creativity and individuality from anyone that performs the music. We’d love to hear your version!”

Oi Musica have also shared a Let It Grow schools pack which is jam-packed with activities for exploring & learning about climate change with primary aged children.

Enough is Enough – Where's the One

YMI drumming tutor Mat Clements has been leading the way with some fantastic environment-focused performances created with primary classes in Greenock and Gourock which all culminated in a special performance at the Beacon Arts Centre. Pupils performed versions of Oi Musica’s 'Enough is Enough', held classroom-made placards and spoke out about their hopes and expectations for the world leaders at COP26.

Through a Youth Arts Access funded project, Mat also led young musicians from the Scottish Borders to present their own unique version of the piece over a 4-day intensive course in July this year.

You can watch the band in action and hear some of their thoughts on the project in this video:

Chamber Music Scotland

Chamber Music Scotland have supported Sequoia Duo in the premiere of their WATER MUSIC project as well as the creation of their Transplanted: Carbon learning resources, which were included as part of Climate Fringe Week.

“Scotland's natural habitats are incredible carbon stores, but they need our help. Join string duo Sequoia on a fun musical journey through meadows, forests, and peat bogs to meet the superheroes of the plant world who are working hard to keep carbon safely locked away.”

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Song Sessions

In the months leading up to Glasgow hosting COP26 Lucy Drever and musicians from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra visited schools around Scotland to listen to young people’s views about the future of climate, changes to their environment, and how the world around them might look in the future.

The ideas were turned into the basis for unique music and songs, lyrics and riffs, soundscapes and spoken words: all devised and workshopped by the pupils. You can watch the song sessions online now, featuring music written by young people from Shetland, Campbeltown, Inverness, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

A woman plays trumpet in a crowd of children

Pictured: Elisabeth in the audience, Stornoway Primary School, Credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Nevis Ensemble

Throughout COP26, Nevis Ensemble and more than 30 members of the Scottish Classical Sustainability Group (SCSG) have been bringing focus on climate change within Scotland’s classical music organisations, highlighting current and future activities. You can follow on Twitter and Facebook using the #ClassicalCOP26 hashtag.

Nevis, alongside Scottish Ensemble, established the SCSG in 2020 bringing together Scotland’s classical music organisations, as well as the Musicians’ Union, Creative Scotland and Association of British Orchestras. In July 2021 they launched the Scottish Classical Music Green Guide. Nevis’ Georgina MacDonell Finlayson will be presenting on the guide at the upcoming Music Education Council seminar on The Music Industry and Climate Change on 11 November.

Further Resources


  • Tommy Regan of West Dunbartonshire YMI has composed a song to share with classes ahead of COP26. The song is titled COME TOGETHER.
  • Scottish band EAST END FRIEND have composed a song GOOD COP BAD COP which references the global conference in Glasgow. They have created a cross-curricular resource and offer this to all schools in Scotland.


  • Scottish Opera have a number of online resources which are free to schools until the end of 2021. The Last Aliens is a school show focused on raising awareness of planet destruction ahead of COP26. It is available to download now from the Scottish Opera website.
  • Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub have shared their Countdown to COP resource covering a number of curricular areas from Early Years to BGE level.


  • You can find out how to get involved in cultural events, discussions, debates and action over at the dedicated Culture at COP website.
  • Part of Creative Scotland’s Our Creative Voice campaign, Fact File on Culture and the Climate Emergency is full of key info and stats on the arts and climate justice.
This article was published on 09 Nov 2021