Youth Justice Work

CLIMB | West Mercia Diversionary Service

November 2021 - February 2022

This music pilot was part of the Midlands Arts Centre’s Youth Music funded programme MAC Makes Music, in partnership with CLIMB, a programme that aims to provide positive activities to young people identified by the West Mercia Diversionary Service. MAC Makes Music leader Omar Dickson delivered one-to-one and small group sessions to young people in Worcester. The sessions were 30 minutes to an hour long and were tailored to the needs and interests of the young people in attendance. They provided an opportunity for young people to explore music-making using good quality equipment in a safe space with a professional music producer. Each session was underpinned by the Youth Music Quality Framework. The Music Leader kept a verbal diary with MAC Makes Music throughout the pilot in which they reflected on the young people’s musical, personal and social developments. This report was put together using excerpts from the Music Leader’s verbal reflective diary. 

Aims of the Partnership

  • To increase access to creative music making opportunities for children and young people who currently face barriers to doing so. 
  • To develop new approaches, resources and skills that support and embed musical inclusion.  
  •  To work towards a sustainable model of high quality, creative, inclusive music education for all children and young people. 

Aims of the CLIMB Music Pilot 

  • Develop the creative, expressive and musical skills of children and young people 
  • Improve self-efficacy and self-esteem (skills, engagement and self-confidence) 
  • Develop social and communication skills

What did the music making sessions involve?

Lyric writing 

Melody writing 



Song writing 





Microphone technique





Using Logic Pro 

Keyboard skills

Aim: Develop creative, expressive and musical skills

Musical Objectives set by the Music Leader: 

1. To learn how to build a track on Logic 

2. To identify different elements of a composition 

3. Improve musical timing 

Session 1: We started composing a beat, chopping up vocal samples and learning the basics of Logic Pro […] identifying the elements of a track and how to put it together. 

Session 2: We used the keyboard and made a beat in Logic. When they finished they both said they enjoyed it and that they want to add some vocals next time. Neither of them were keen to get on the mic, but they said they wanted to write some lyrics and get the youth worker to record them. 

Session 4: J and S came together. J made a beat and S brought some lyrics.

The following diary entry demonstrates how the Music Leader navigates a conversation around lyrical content. 

The lyrics were about suicide. I didn’t want to question this at the time, because I’m still getting to know him, and building trust, but have brought it to the Youth Worker’s attention. I was happy that he felt comfortable enough to speak about it, and we still had a fun and jokey session, but I was a bit concerned that he was almost glorifying suicide. I will work towards talking to him about lyrical content. He also shared with me some of the music he listens to, and that was about suicide too. I think he was just taking influence from the music he listens to. I gave him the task of writing some positive lyrics and he said he couldn’t do that. I told him he can because he’s a positive guy. We’ll see what happens. 

Session 5: L wanted to play the piano so we did that and then made a beat to put with it.

Aim: Improve self-efficacy and self-esteem (skills, engagement and self-confidence) 

Although the pilot was about helping young people develop their musical skills, the focus was just as much on the personal developments of the young people as individuals. Music was used as a tool to help with transferable skills like confidence, ability to focus and self-esteem. It was evident from the Music Leader’s verbal diary that the participants became more able to celebrate their achievements and were keen to stay longer where possible. 

Personal Objectives set by the Music Leader:

1. Improve ability to engage in musical activity 

2. Improve ability to review their own work 

3. Increase confidence to be proactive to take part 

Session 3: We didn’t have anyone come to the second session so J and S asked to stay on for an extra ten minutes. I’d love to see these two back again next time, they were a great pair. It makes such a difference when you get people in a group who work so well together. 

Session 4: J’s Youth worker asked if J could have some 1-to-1 time with me. I think he feels a bit overshadowed by S because he’s a much quieter guy. I’m happy to give him an extra 10 mins on his own in future. 

Session 7: S made a new track. He’s really engaged, loves the sessions and is getting more confident with the music, making decisions and telling me what he wants. He was able to take control and guide me as his engineer. 

Session 7: L stayed for a whole hour because J didn’t come. She played piano and we made a beat to go with it. She seems a bit shy and doesn’t say a lot, but I can tell she wants to be there. I don’t want to push her too much, so I encourage her by playing around on the piano, and she jumps in when she feels ready. This works well. 

Session 12: S did some beatmaking and was dancing along to what he’d made – he was really happy with it. He brought a friend with him and they stayed for a full hour.

Aim: Develop social and communication skills

Music was also used to help develop social skills. Some participants were encouraged to collaborate where possible as a way to develop their team working and communication skills. Other participants showed they became more confident to communicate with the Music Leader towards the end of the pilot. 

Social Objectives set by the Music Leader: 

1. Increase ability to share ideas 

2. Increase willingness to share feedback about the session 

3. Increase ability to work together 

Session 1: J was quite reserved at first, but once we started chatting about the music he liked, he opened up […] The youth workers were great. They stayed in the room and were getting involved, which I think encouraged J to join in too. I think as I get to know him more he’ll start sharing his ideas and make something really good. Listen to participant J’s solo track: Drilly 

Session 5: J and S worked together. J made the beat. S did a freestyle rap and the social worker did ad libs over the top. It was fun to get everyone involved.

Session 12: L was playing piano. She’s very quiet, but played something she’d written. I showed her how to develop it and then she started to open up and relax.