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Funding boost for community music programme

Posted on 3 November 2020

Young people across Yorkshire who face barriers to music making will have a chance to play traditional Indonesian music, thanks to continued funding for an innovative community project run by the University of York.

Picture credit: Viceversa Robbi

The Sound of Bronze programme uses the Department of Music’s Gamelan Sekar Petak - a collection of Indonesian instruments - to work with local schools, music providers and youth referral units.


The programme, which has been awarded £30,000 from the Youth Music charity, has brought gamelan music to over 600 young people since its launch two years ago.

Musicians at the University use the gamelan to work with young people in the York area facing challenges including financial difficulties, disabilities and mental and physical health conditions. The programme also offers musical opportunities for the city’s young D/deaf community, in partnership with Music4U’s I Can Play project, led by the York-based National Centre for Early Music.

This latest award will fund youth gamelan sessions for small covid-secure groups of 7-14 year olds from schools and pupil referral units in the York area.

It will also fund traineeships for young adults who will work alongside professional community musicians, assisting with music workshops and rehearsals, taking part in group reflection, training and one-to-one mentoring support.


In spring 2021, a residency in rural East Yorkshire will bring the unique experience of gamelan playing to children at Burton Pidsea and Withernsea Primary Schools and young adults living in supported care at Cascade’s Stiles House in Withernsea.

The University of York’s gamelan - named ‘Sekar Petak’ meaning ‘White Flower’ in honour of Yorkshire’s white rose symbol - was the first purpose-built Javanese gamelan in a British university. It is a collection of over 30 musical components including bronze gongs and metallophones, with bamboo flutes and strings.

Emily Crossland, Director of Gamelan Sekar Petak said: “The musical and personal impact we have seen Sound of Bronze make on children over the past two years has been significant. The big advantage is that players learn through a combination of listening and teamwork - they don’t necessarily need to read sheet music to play the gamelan - which opens up opportunities for lots of different people to get involved.

“We are delighted to be able to continue developing these opportunities and connecting with more young people and partners across our home city and beyond, especially at a time when opportunities for vulnerable young people are limited by covid restrictions.”

Head of the Department of Music Áine Sheil said: “We are very grateful to Youth Music for its continuing support of our work with young people whose access to live music-making is limited by their circumstances. The ability to offer traineeships and professional development to gamelan practitioners also adds an important element of sustainability to the project.”

Further information

The project is supported by Youth Music, using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. It is receiving funding as part of the England-wide Youth Accelerator fund, a £7 million Government investment to expand existing successful projects, and address urgent needs in the youth sector by delivering extra sessions in youth clubs, and promoting positive activities in sport and the arts to help young people develop skills and contribute to their communities.

Find out more about the University’s Gamelan Sekar Petak