Urban Music – Supported by PRS

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We are delighted to announce that SoCo has been successful in an application to the PRS Foundation Open fund to support the development of Urban Music in Southampton.

This funding will allow us to Expand on the work of our Urban Music Development Unit (UMDU), providing artist support, studio time, media development and distribution to support a number of urban artists in the city to reach significantly wider audiences, dramatically raising the profile of urban music in Southampton.

Many young urban artists in Southampton struggle to find meaningful progression routes to develop their musical careers. It’s a challenge for all genres, with many artists in rock, pop and jazz moving out of the city into larger metropolitan centres such as Bristol, Brighton or London. This is often not even an option for urban artists, and so they stop pursuing a career in music all together.

Our aim is to support up to 12 artists in the city, helping them to produce outstanding and innovative new music, pushing boundaries and showcasing the incredible talent in the city. By helping them to raise their game and get the support they need to write, produce, record and publish their work, it will provide the fertile environment for more emerging artists to join a growing urban music movement.

This funding will provide the resource to engage with leading producers and engineers, supporting local studios to also be part of this exciting new movement. We will be effective and innovative with media beyond the music recordings, using video and social media to reach new audiences. We want to work with fresh and creative film makers to capture the vibrance of the urban music scene, producing a high quality end product.

Combined with a project grant from Arts Council England, and support from Hampshire Police and the Southampton/Hampshire Violence Reductions Units, this project will help facilitate substantial artist support, that will include mentoring and coaching, on all aspects of their music careers, including performance, industry, press and promotion.

For more information get in touch with the UMDU team.

Our Band – Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Call-out

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Our friends at the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (check them out here) are seeking a young musician (under 25 years) with additional needs from Southampton to join them on their exciting creative project – Our Band.


What is it? – Our Band is a two- year programme of work 2020 – 2021 in Plymouth, Wiltshire, Southampton, London and Norfolk in special needs and mainstream settings in collaboration with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE).

What will we be doing? – we will be creating ensembles in each setting with young people ranging from primary to secondary students to young adults together with players from the OAE. We will compose and perform music together including our new community opera The Moon Hares in July 2020 in London and King’s Lynn and in other events in Wilts, Southampton and Plymouth in Summer 2020 which will be followed by all groups being involved in a special needs festival entitled Transformations in Summer 2021.

Would you like to join us? – are you a young musician (under 25) with additional needs from Southampton who would like to join our team to be part of this creative process? We are looking for someone who would like to develop their own skills through mentoring by the OAE and Southampton teams and help us to nurture the groups we work with.

When are the sessions? – the sessions will be taking place on between March-July 2020 in Year 1 and from September 2020 to July 2021 in Year 2.

Will I be paid? – you will be paid £100 for each full day and £50 for each evening session or half day plus help with travel costs and a chaperone where needed. There is also an opportunity for the Young Artist to receive some  lessons to support their development.

What skills do I need? – we’re looking for someone who is an artist – this can be a singer, an instrumentalist or an artist of any kind but someone who is keen to get stuck in, be personable and ready for anything!

For more information or to register an interest please contact 


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Coronavirus COVID-19

Update – School Closures

18th March 5pm –  the Government has announced that schools in England will close from Friday 20th until further notice. The children of key workers, and children who are vulnerable, will be able to stay in school settings.

SoCo will be in conversation with Local Authorities exploring how we may be able to support young people both in and out of school settings during this unprecedented time. We will also be exploring the development and sharing of online resources and tutorials that will help those at home still engage in positive music activities. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates.

Unprecedented times for all of us…

Here at SoCo HQ we’ll be paying close attention to the advice and guidance around the Coronavirus, working with our partners to keep activities running where appropriate. If music making sessions are cancelled we will endeavour to inform everyone on our social media channels.

Where sessions are running we ask that you be considerate to other participants and practitioners. If you are suffering from symptoms that are in line with Coronavirus COVID-19 (new and constant cough, high fever) then we strongly recommend that you follow government guidance and self isolate, and we reserve the right to ask you to leave the session to protect the health and well-being of other participants and music leaders.

For up to date advice and guidance on how to best respond to the Coronavirus COVID-19 and for more general advice the following links provide a useful resource:

UK Government Latest Information and Advice

Public Health England – What you need to know

Arts Council England – Advice for the Arts Sector

Musicians Union – Advice for Working Musicians

NCVO – Advice for the Voluntary Sector

If you have a specific enquiries please do contact us.

We all hope you stay safe, please look out for those that need support, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

Apply Now! – Urban Music Development Unit

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SoCo Music Project are excited to announce the development of a new Urban Music Development Unit in Southampton.

Extending our work in youth justice, pupil referral units, youth clubs and schools – the Urban Music Development Unit will provide a supportive environment for young people to develop their passion for urban music genres, collaborate with young people across the city, and learn about progression routes in the music industry.

To get started we are recruiting two new members of the SoCo team; a Programme Manager and a Music Practitioner.

We are looking for passionate and dedicated individuals with skills and experience in urban music and supporting young people. The roles will be part time for three months initially, and we are committed to ensuring that we grow and develop the offer for young people in the city and beyond.

Location to be confirmed, but will include some travel to youth settings/schools and may include evening and weekend work.

Click the job titles above to download the job descriptions, and if you are ready to apply send a CV and covering letter (no more than 2 sides of A4) to Alternatively send a video introducing your self and explaining why you want to join us. Feel free to get in touch if you would like more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sustainable Early Years Music (SEYM)

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We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding from Youth Music to deliver a practice-based-research project to develop a Sustainable Early Years Model (SEYM). This sees SoCo Music Project embark on an exciting partnership with the Royal College of Music (RCM) and academic mentor Jessica Pitt.

Through SEYM we intend to provide a much needed, sustainable musical support framework for learners and educators in Special Educational Needs/Disabilities (SEN/D) Early Years and Reception settings. Our partner settings are Early Years at Rosewood Free School and Reception settings at Springwell School, both of which are in Southampton.

Building on our participation in the Youth Music Exchanging Notes project as well as similar projects funded by CAMHS and Youth Music Future Sounds we aim to nuance and develop our practice to empower permanent communities of practice in these settings. 

As a sustainable model, SEYM is built on the interplay between three key areas of practice-as-research: collaborative music session delivery, knowledge-exchange practices and data collection. 

We will be working towards three outcomes:

  • Increased confidence and practical knowledge of staff in Reception and Early Years settings to facilitate music sessions for young people with SEN/D
  • Increase in young people’s ability and confidence to engage in a wide range of musical activities
  • Improvement in young people’s communication and sensory development

For more information and to keep in touch about the project please contact Marie Negus

Exchanging notes report released

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Between 2014 and 2018 SoCo Music Project was a delivery partner on Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes programme. The programme was developed to see what would happen if young people at risk of disengagement, low attainment or exclusion from school had access to a creative and inspiring music curriculum that was sustained over four years. Youth Music invested in 10 new partnerships and appointed a team from Birmingham City University to research the impact using a mixed-method approach. All funded through the National Lottery via Arts Council England.

Exchanging Notes worked with 974 young musicians, 72 of whom were tracked across four years. The findings from the research demonstrate that music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning.

Go to the Youth Music website to read the full report.

Tales of the Young Person’s Orchestra

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We are excited to announce an innovative partnership with the Southampton-based SÓN Orchestra in association with Turner Sims.

Tales of the Young Person’s Orchestra is a collaboration with SoCo Music Project and SÓN. This exciting project will see delivery of an inspirational and inclusive musical experience for young people with Special Educational Needs in Southampton and Portsmouth. The project, which will run from January 2019 – April 2019 will encourage participants to compose original music whilst exploring different sounds and expressible possibilities of orchestral music.

Experienced music leader/composer Ignacio Agrimbau (MA, PhD) and professional classical musicians from SÓN will collaboratively design an inclusive music-making programme that is responsive to the possibilities, talent and preferences of the students participating. These supported creative music-making programmes will take place over the course of 24 music workshops in three Special Education Needs settings, namely Springwell School, Mary Rose Academy and Avenues College – Post 19 college of Rosewood Free School.

Marie Negus, Development Manager for SoCo Music Project states that:

“We are delighted to have been awarded funding by the Radcliffe Trust for this programme.  This provides a unique experience for young people, who wouldn’t usually experience the sounds and expressive possibilities of different instrumental families of the classical orchestra. I’m excited to see and hear how they formulate their own musical ideas from this experience, culminating in performances in the settings.”

Throughout this partnership, SoCo Music Project and SÓN will work together using their extensive experience in developing engaging music programmes for young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEN/D) and ambition to nurture the next generation of musicians through education and outreach.

Robin Browning, SÓN Artistic Director:

“Since SÓN was founded 3 years ago, we’ve been on a mission to change lives through music across the south. We’re passionately committed to the power music has to impact young people’s lives, because all our musicians know, first hand, how much it has brought to their own world, and love sharing this with others. The chance to collaborate with SoCo – one of the pioneers in music outreach all over the region – is a wonderful opportunity, and I’m looking forward to building projects of real, lasting value together.”

For more information contact Marie Negus – 



Advisory Board Opportunity

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SoCo Music Project are at an exciting stage of their organisational development, and are seeking members to join an advisory board to support our transition to Charity.

To read more about our vision and aims read our manifesto.

Whilst we welcome expressions of interest from all candidates, we are particularly keen to hear from those with knowledge and/or experience in any of the following areas:

  • Charity Development/Governance
  • Accountancy
  • Business Development/Planning
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Fundraising
  • Stakeholder Managment

We would anticipate monthly meetings as we transition to become a charity, we would then recruit our Board of Trustees to which we would welcome you to apply should you wish. Our aspiration is to submit our Charity application early next year, with a view to becoming a Charity in April 2019.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can support SoCo Music Project, please contact Marie Negus ( or 07988 683 544) for an informal chat. Following which we would invite you to forward a covering letter (no more than 2 A4 sides), detailing why you are interested in becoming part of our advisory board and how your skills/experience will support organisational growth and resilience by Friday 30th November.

About SoCo Music Project

SoCo Music Project is a non profit music organisation based in Southampton and operating across Hampshire. Started in 2008 by two directors, Matt Salvage and Jon Haughton, SoCo is now an organisation with a regional reach and a reputation for high quality engagement activities. We are at an important stage of our development as we transition to become a charity.

As of Spring 2016 SoCo has been steered by a management team of four in addition to six freelance Music Leaders and three volunteers working across project management, strategic development and workshop delivery.

With a turnover in excess of £200k per year, SoCo continues to develop engaging music programmes and vibrant creative spaces, supporting social action and creative development through music.

SoCo is predominantly project funded through grants and commissions, we have received funding from Youth Music, Arts Council England, Big Lottery, European Social Fund and Local Authorities. Moving forward SoCo is planning on transitioning to a charity and developing more sustainable income through individual/corporate giving.

SoCo Music Project seeks to engage young people (especially those in challenging circumstances) and vulnerable adults in musical activity in order to develop their creative potential, promote cross-cultural understanding and supporting wider social and personal outcomes.

SoCo Music Project is a music delivery organisation that is dedicated to using music to transform lives. We work with agencies and organisations to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children and adults using highly skilled music leaders who deliver a diverse range of innovative and tailored creative music-making activities. We inspire and empower individuals at the heart of the community, to have a voice and develop and grow. We also encourage and train others who share our passion to bring about positive life-changing moments through music.

Our Aims

  • Deepening engagement and widening participation
  • Developing people and increasing skills
  • Demonstrating impact of the benefits of music-making with young people in challenging circumstances and vulnerable adults
  • Developing creative spaces that inspire and support
  • Developing partnerships & relationships that support an increase in participation
  • Encouraging confidence through effective communication
  • Building resilience to enhance and maintain cultural opportunities locally and regionally

Our Values

  • Inspiring and Empowering people who face challenges in their lives and ensuring that their needs and voices inform and define our delivery programmes
  • Developing and Supporting individuals, using the life-changing power of music to improve skills, enrich lives and connect people and organisations
  • Creativity and Diversity is embedded through our organisational values and supports our aspirations to adopt a musically inclusive way of working
  • Developing Partnerships and being an organisation that keeps itself connected with our local arts and cultural sector and communities so that we can respond and reach where we’re needed with the biggest chance of transforming lives and sharing our approach

These core values capture the essence of who we are and are interwoven through everything that we do as we develop as an organisation and transition to become a charity.

SoCo Saturdays: Hitting The Right Notes in Southampton

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SoCo Music Project is excited to announce the launch of SoCo Saturdays, a free music-making programme for young people in Southampton. Every Saturday from 11am to 1pm, SoCo’s experienced Music Leaders will be on hand to support young people to learn and create; with sessions suitable both for those at the start of their musical journey and those wanting to hone their musical skills in performance, songwriting or music production. The sessions launch on October 13th and will take place from The Pavilion in Hoglands Park, Southampton City Centre.

The programme is funded by Southampton City Council’s Community Cohesion fund and is part of a wider SoCo project that aims to engage a variety of marginalised communities across Southampton through activity within Hoglands Park, as explained by SoCo’s Project Manager, Mark Scott:

“This programme of open provision will support music-making for young people at all levelsBy using The Pavilion for positive, creative activity, we are aiming to breathe new life into a park that faces many challenges. We are looking to develop a multi-arts programme of engagement, creating a safe space where people can come together and take part in something positive and creative.”

Where: The Pavilion, Hoglands Park, Southampton City Centre

When: 11-1pm every Saturday, starting October 6th

For further information about this service, to make a referral, to volunteer or to offer financial support for this project, please contact

New Weekly Music Club Comes to Eastleigh This Summer

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SoCo Music Project is pleased to announce the launch of a new project, SoCo Music Club, that aims to empower young people and support their transition from youth to adult mental health services through music-making and health support and advice.

Working in partnership with Groundwork South and Solent Mind, and taking place from Energy Youth Centre, these weekly, open access workshops will provide young people aged 13 to 18 with an opportunity to explore topics around mental health whilst engaging in a variety of music-making activities. Participants will be supported with this through instrumental performance, songwriting, music technology and recording.

The project, funded by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation, will help bridge the gap between youth and adult mental health services and will run on Thursday evenings from 7-8.30pm starting August 2nd. All abilities welcome – bring instruments if you have them!

Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood, whilst 75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment. Over half of young people link mental illness with alienation and isolation.

For further information about this service, to make a referral, to volunteer or to offer financial support for this group, please contact