Monday 25 July 2022

Young musicians take to the stage in Birmingham!

Audience members at Music for Youth's National Festival in Birmingham
Audience members at Music for Youth's National Festival in Birmingham

Under the banner A Festival For All, the annual Music for Youth National Festival was held earlier this month at three world-class stages in Birmingham: Symphony Hall, Town Hall and CBSO Centre, and tickets were free this year in recognition of a challenging few years for the arts sector; over 4000 young musicians performed in the venues. And as part of the festival, Music for Youth hosted an Industry Day for 16-25 year olds at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 

Music for Youth's National Festival

This year’s theme was A Festival For All, highlighting Music for Youth’s inclusivity. The programming of the event differed to previous years, creating varied sessions with a range of performers in each one, including jazz, brass and folk bands, choirs, ensembles and quartets. Musicians travelled to Birmingham from all corners of the UK.

Music for Youth invited tv/radio presenters, Summaya Mughal and Robyn Richford to host the weekend alongside three young presenters who are all hoping to make a career out of their passion. Music Mentors also watched each session and provided groups with detailed feedback about their performances.

"Presenting at the Music for Youth National Festival was an amazing experience! Music is a huge part of me and being surrounded by so much young talent was very inspiring! Further seeing everyone in the team, giving their all to making the festival a success was lovely to see and I was honoured to be a part of it! I met such great people over the weekend and really developed as a person and was grateful to present in such beautiful venues and work with the presenting mentors." – LDEAA

A highlight of the festival was the showcase concert on Friday, 8 July at Town Hall, which promoted the level and breadth of music education across the UK. The concert was also live streamed on Music for Youth’s Facebook page so anyone who couldn’t make it in person was still able to enjoy the music.

Performers at Music for Youth's National Festival in Birmingham
Performers at Music for Youth's National Festival in Birmingham

Kate Gardner, Programme Director at Music for Youth said "The festival was such an incredible opportunity to bring young people back onto world class stages again post pandemic. Seeing the excitement and nervous chatter as groups are preparing to go onstage and the sheer elation when they come offstage is an experience next to none and I feel very lucky to work at an organisation that can provide such experiences. The inclusion of workshops as part of each concert was a wonderful opportunity to bring the MFY musical community together as one. And our young presenters and young people in non-performance roles meant that youth engagement was at the heart of everything we produced."

One young man, Rohan Harron, performed in multiple pieces at the National Festival and also assisted behind-the-scenes in a non-performance role. He said "As a performer, I’ve taken part in the festival every year since 2010, playing in a range of different ensembles in a number of venues, including two performances at the MFY Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. It’s been such a special organisation to my musical education so it’s been amazing to be able to give something back by helping to run the National Festival, and to meet such great people through it. I can’t wait to hopefully be a part of MFY for many years to come!"

Music for Youth's Industry Day

Music For Youth is the national music agency for young people, therefore we understand the importance of connecting young people with organisations and platforms within the music industry that will support their creative development. On Saturday 9th July 2022, as a part of the National Festival, Music for Youth hosted an Industry Day for 16-25 year olds at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 

 Three panels were run, as well as a networking lunch: How to Produce Music Digitally Using Ableton with ICMP; Sustaining Your Career As An Independent Artist with Punch Records, PPL and The Musicians Union; and In Conversation with Sheema Siddiqi, The Artist Community Manager at TikTok. The lunch break allowed guests to network with staff from PPL, ICMP, MU, NEU, Punch Records, Trinity, The Ivors Academy and Amazon Music.

How to produce music digitally using Ableton with ICMP

We heard from three speakers at our first panel: Marcello Ruggiu, Lecturer on BA Creative Music Production; Dani Senior, Lecturer on BA Music Business and Entrepreneurship, BA Songwriting and BMus Popular Music Performance; and Daniel Reith, a 2nd Year BA Creative Music Performance student. They discussed the art of sampling, equipment and shared their knowledge on microphones, recording techniques and the basics of mixing your music.

Sustaining your career as an independent artist with Punch Records and The Musicians’ Union

This panel was hosted by Nikki Riggon from Punch Records, Namywa Jazz and PBN (both artists who have received support from Punch Records) and Natalie Witts-Kilshaw, who’s a Senior Regional Officer at the Musicians’ Union.

They discussed:
  • How to sustain your career as an indie artist with the support of the right platforms, people, funding, and initiatives.
  • Namywa and PBN spoke about key successes in their career, and who/what has helped them to reach them, as well as mistakes/things they wish they knew now.
  • All three representatives spoke about their current initiatives and support that can be provided to indie artists
  • Indie vs record label signings.
In conversation with Sheema Siddiqi, The Artist Community Manager at TikTok

Sheema explained how she got started as an industry professional working at Tik Tok. She spoke about myths and truths on the platform, specifically revolving the algorithm and ‘going viral’, and went on to discuss how artists can foster a creative community on TikTok in a healthy way, as well as talking about her favourite creators on the platform and why.

Sheema used some real-life examples of Cat Burns, Ashnikko and PinkPantheress to explain how they built their following and got noticed and what they did differently to their competitors. She ended by discussing and explaining TikTok’s Artist Handbook, explaining the reasons why it was created and developed.

Phil Castang, Music for Youth’s CEO said "It’s been a challenging time for the music industry and young people have found it difficult to get good careers advice and support. So, it feels important to be providing these opportunities again. It’s vital for us to provide opportunities to produce music and learn about the industry not just on stage but also in non-performative roles backstage and behind the mixing desk."

Winnie Sandy, Project Manager at MFY said "Creating equitable pathways for the future generation of musicians and industry professionals is crucial, now more than ever. As Music for Youth comes out of the uncertainty of COVID, it has been delightful to see key organisations and platforms support and celebrate young people's creativity throughout the UK."

For more information about Music for Youth, please visit the website. To find out more about our upcoming industry events and workshops, please contact Winnie Sandy at

Participants at Music for Youth's Industry Day in Birmingham (Photo: Alick Cotterill)
Participants at Music for Youth's Industry Day in BirminghamParticipants at Music for Youth's Industry Day in Birmingham (Photo: Alick Cotterill)

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