The Swan Street Collective is a music ensemble for young people living with special education needs and movement difficulties based at Band on the Wall in Manchester. Membership of the group opens an accessible route for inclusive musical collaboration, development and achievement in a happy, safe and conducive environment.
The project is a major collaboration between the Greater Manchester Music Education Hub (GMMEH), Brighter Sound and Music Unlimited. It offers high quality out-of-school activity in a recognised music venue working towards public performance and recordings for young people with a variety of needs. Membership is for those aged between 13 and 25. The Swan Street Collective currently runs two six week projects per year in spring and summer, rehearsing at Band on the Wall.
Members of the group are selected by recommendation from schools associated with the GMMEH based on their talent, skills and enthusiasm for group music making. They come along with parents and carers, who either stick around or leave them in the capable hands of the 3 artist facilitators who lead the sessions – Kenton Mann, Jote Osahn and Sam Yates. Through initial creative musical warm-up activities the group quickly find where their musical strengths lie. They are supported in developing ideas, whether instrumental or vocal, and shown how to place these into a song structure. The style of delivery is open-ended, non-formal and great fun for participants, parents and leaders alike.
“It was fantastic. I enjoyed taking part – it was a great experience. I was nervous, but also excited performing. I got to meet different people, play different instrument and music and make up a new song.” – Charley, Swan Street Collective
“The work that has been put into the sessions are outstanding. He was treated as a regular child, not someone with special needs. He feels part of a special group and feels important – he thrives off praise and he is given lots here. Thank you all for making my son a confident, happy boy.” – Mother, Swan Street Collective
The pilot project was a huge success, with all participants performing in a special GM Hub VIP concert at the Bridgewater Hall to an audience of 140. The project has now been established as continuing, with the second run of sessions seeing participants doubling in number. The group will perform six new pieces in July.