The project in Croydon was to work with at-risk young people in different parts of the Borough to create an ensemble band to be named the Croydon Bloco that would be able to perform at their local festival, Croydon Heritage Festival. Kinetika Bloco and Croydon Youth Service funded by Sound Connections started this project in the Easter half-term with 14 young people from the Norwood Junction area of the borough of Croydon. A team of 5 young leaders from Kinetika Bloco delivered the daily workshops at the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Centre where participants learnt a number of ensemble drumming songs and developed their own signature piece on Brazilian samba drums. The last day of their intensive music-making Easter school culminated in a performance on South Croydon high street, which was definitely a highlight for them, their family, and their friends and for the locals that stopped to watch and support them. The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Bloco, together with a group of Kinetika Bloco woodwind and brass players, blew them away with the music they had developed.

This part of the project finished with a session in leadership; developing leadership skills and how they can build on the skills they have. The best thing about the project is that the young people from this part of the project also had the opportunity to lead in the next part of the project: part two – Goldcrest Youth Centre.

With the help of one of the young people from the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor centre, the leaders from Kinetika Bloco started the second part of the project with 12 young people that go to Goldcrest youth Centre in New Addington. Some of the young people attend a LDD group – Learning difficulties and disabilities group based at the Goldcrest Youth Centre already. This mixed ability group worked hard by first learning a bit of Bloco repertoire and then going on to use their new drumming skills to create original drum pieces of their own under the guidance of the Bloco Leaders. The Goldcrest Bloco then worked to create a drum piece that they could perform.

The project culminated in a union of both individual groups to create the Croydon Bloco. Both Bloco’s being like two sides of the same coin. They truly came together on the day of the performance. Twenty of the young people came together in Croydon to perform in costume at the Heritage festival on Saturday 21st June, to the shoppers, their families and friends in West Croydon. Coming from two very different parts of Croydon, these young people demonstrated the great level of team-work it takes to create something special and unique. The audience was wowed by their performance and the young people looked so proud and rightly so. There wasn’t a frown in the crowd. What a proud day for the Croydon Bloco!

We’d like to thank Jess at the Croydon Youth Service for the hard work she’s put in to make this project happen! And a big thanks to Sound Connections for the funding and continued support on making sure this project took place.

Music goes beyond rules and regulations. It transcends words, it is a powerful communicative tool AND it’s fun! So going into a project with young people with a range of abilities and complex & challenging backgrounds, music proved to be a tool that could unite us all!

Have a look at the comments from the audience and their family and friends:

A Proud Parent – “thank you very much for all the hard work you put into the group and allowing our son to participate and join in…it was so enjoyable to watch and u all did so well. We are so proud, our son really enjoyed it, it was magical to watch and for him to join in with something and feel comfy doing it, because he has trouble sometimes joining in with things, thank you once again for all your hard work and the rest of the team xx” 

A Proud Grandma – “We would like to let you know how wonderful it was to come up from the coast to see our Grandson playing the drum with others from his Youth club last Saturday. We were blown away with the fantastic atmosphere, music & dedication from all the group. He has only been playing the drums for 6 weeks so we did not expect to see such a fantastic performance from them all. Thank you for what you have done with all the children & the young lady who conducted the group.What a proud day for us”

A Proud Foster Parent – “My girls have enjoyed every minute of the rehearsals and loved playing today in Central Croydon. We were so proud of them. Everyone was fantastic. This has boosted their self esteem and confidence. You are doing such a great job a big thank you again”

An impressed audience member – When I see you all my heart went and nearly cried coz they all looked amazing”