Wider stage for budding rockers
The Friday Night Music Project at Lasswade High boasts 12 bands and at least five soloists. Now the scheme is set to expand so that all Midlothian youngsters have the opportunity to build a band.
Midlothian Council has succeeded in securing a grant for pound;30,000 from Creative Scotland for its Build a Band project, due to start in September in three different locations - Lasswade High will continue, plus new sites at Penicuik High and McSense in Mayfield.
Each project will be staffed by a lead musician, two youth workers and up to three trainee tutors and hopes to attract up to 30 youngsters at any one time. The first year will cost over pound;40,000, with a further pound;8,000 earmarked for musical equipment.
Ultimately, the aim is to have dozens of rock bands, indie bands, pop bands and jazz bands springing up across Midlothian, some of whom will get the chance to record their work. In particular, the project, led by Midlothian youth music forum coordinator Jess Abrams, hopes to engage disaffected youngsters.
Two years ago, the Friday Night Music Project at Lasswade High got so big - with 18 bands and six soloists - that an additional set-up called "Friday on a Tuesday" was launched, says Jake Herriot, community learning and development operational manager for west Midlothian. Today, 55 youngsters take part and a concert is held every 10 weeks, which draws audiences of around 350 people.
Many youngsters have now turned their passion into their profession, with the help of the project, and this year over half a dozen will leave to study everything from traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow to modern musicianship at Napier University in Edinburgh.
Some groups are even beginning to experience success, with rock band Carter Damm due to release its first single this year.