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Sage Gateshead’s Turn Up the Quiet: Young Women’s Music-Making

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When thirteen-year-old Elena McHugh joined one of Sage Gateshead’s Turn Up the Quiet workshops she saw it as a hobby, and having completed the first few, Elena now wants to explore the career options within the music industry.

Turn Up the Quiet – is a series of free workshops, which have been designed for those who identify themselves as women or non-binary, aged 13 – 18 who would like to learn new musical styles and develop ideas. Elena spoke to Sage Gateshead’s podcast presenter Ian Wylie after our last Turn up The Quiet series and shared her experiences.

Elena told Ian: “When I first found out about the course, I was like – ‘oh, a thing for people my age – other girls – sounds cool – I’m in’. I love music a lot. I’ve never really considered it my thing, mostly because I’m really, really scared of performing – or at least I used to be. I have a lot of anxiety problems, especially social anxiety and performing and speaking in public, and I’ve found this programme has helped me a lot to conquer that. We’ve done two performances and both were a lot of fun.

The course provides a really supportive environment – the people are all really nice. I’m more confident with my voice and with being able to make new friends. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Every Thursday I’m like ‘yeah, it’s Music Day’.

When I started, I thought it was just a hobby but then I’ve enjoyed myself so much that I’m wondering if I can do anything with this. I’d like to see if I can take this in a career path direction.”

Hannah Taylor, Programme Leader for Gender Equality, added to the chat: “It’s no secret that we’re in a male-dominated industry and it’s great for young girls to be themselves in an environment where they feel safe, gain the confidence they need, gain musical skills, raise their aspirations and hopefully feel like it may be something they want to continue with in the future.

All abilities are welcome, anyone can take part. My advice is just turn up! We will welcome you into the group and hope you’ll leave feeling happier and inspired.”

The workshops welcome young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or who are at risk of becoming NEET due to circumstances affecting their educational engagement. The workshops are open to singers and players of all musical styles and instruments.

The next term starts in September with a Contemporary Choir and an Experimental Music course. In January there will be a Songwriting course and in April a Music Production course. Find out more here.

You don’t need to book – just turn up and meet opposite the Grab & Go Café on Sage Gateshead’s Concourse.

CoMusica works with partners across the North East to support children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances to fulfil their potential musically, personally and socially.

The series is funded by National Foundation for Youth Music and Hays Travel.