We hope that the projects we do make a difference with young people. We check in with our young people and parents throughout our projects, making sure to build in what young people want but also what they need into the projects we do. Here’s one of our lovely parent’s view, Mel’s, on the effect that KB projects have had on her sons.
“The thing about music opportunities for our kids is that they are quite a rare thing, especially over the age of 11… the odd term of violin at primary school or if you are lucky to be in a school that has not totally wiped it off the curriculum then maybe you get a bit more, but sadly it is turning back in to an elitist thing. Why? The simple answer is money.
That is why Kinetika Bloco has been invaluable for our family and so many others on many levels. It exudes equality in music like no other organisation, you can turn up with little rhythm and little passion and by the end of the day you are worthy of playing the samba at Rio carnival.
Our journey in to the Bloco started when my (then) 13-year-old son had just started playing the saxophone. For any parent of a horn player, you will probably know how many years of pain you must endure before the noise turns out to be recognisable.
So, joining Bloco was a no-brainer, no long induction, no test, no anything. Here he was and it became him. Five years later, and that 18-year-old prioritises Bloco like you wouldn’t imagine a young man of 18 would when faced with having to dress in a green outfit, a shiny gold sash and parade down Croydon high road as he did a few weeks ago.
But, he is 18 and no one forces him to be a part of it, this is who he is now and by virtue of him being involved so is his brother.
Kinetika Bloco has a similar eco-system to grass roots football clubs, whereby their players turn into coaches, and a few become managers, mums make the sandwiches and crucially you are always a part of the club.
The other thing that goes on in those football clubs is that they are open to all, they don’t care about your level they want everyone to join, they are not cherry picking the best because the ensemble is so much more important than the individual.
But, occasionally a few players creep into the big time and everyone is proud which is something that this parent especially gushes about! Just take a look at the KB alumni to know the calibre of musician Kinetika Bloco has produced, but more importantly than that, check out their postcodes.
Their postcodes will tell you a couple of things that their faces won’t. These kids are not of the postcodes where the ‘normal’ group of Jazz musicians come from. These kids had Kinetika Bloco, these kids had exceptional and accepting teachers who knew talent was not correlated to musical level or what school they came from.
The ensemble is essential in building any organisation that works at the grass roots, it gives the young people a whole lot more than a sterile 30-minute music lesson. If you can’t afford an instrument? Don’t worry, our great supporters – Ronnie Scotts, they have an amnesty whereby they get us instruments. You need a friend? We have plenty; you want a safe place amongst calm and cool, creative teenagers – we are here. The ensemble, the ‘other’ add-on bits, the busking, the jamming – all so very important.
My sons have travelled the length and breadth of this country performing with the Bloco and the travel, is as (if not more) important than the performance, the joining of people, thinking, laughing, playing jokes on each other. The familial feel to ‘in jokes’ the creation of life-long friendships, those are the important parts.
Mat Fox, the KB founder, the pioneer, the man to whom I and a whole flotilla of parents owe a note of thanks. His vision, in being able to recognise and find a way of giving these inner-city kids access, they had the skill but not the access and the creation of Kinetika Bloco, provided a functional step-up.
So, to Mat Fox and to his legacy – thank you.”