We were late in the project to start these sessions at the Wave Academy Pupil Referral Unit in Dartington because the staff needed use of the space we usually used (thanks to covid restrictions). We’re part way through the term and are so glad to have got it all going as it’s so needed. Plus the team was so happy to have us in. We followed their advice to move the sessions from Monday to Wednesday mornings which worked well for the young people as they get more into the swing of things by mid week. I’m sure we all know that feeling of being dragged out of a comfy bed into an institutional space on a Monday morning when it’s hard enough already to face the world, amped up by the harshness of rush hour traffic of aspirational parents and workers keen to get somewhere.

These young people have been through so much in their short lives already, having left school early, having big challenges at home or with their peers, feeling misunderstood, and the rest.

My understanding of PRU’s is that they are a place for young people to find their way back into the world. A safe place to meet caring adults who can hold boundaries and help them to grow more positively. Ryan, who delivers these sessions, said “most of the time they come in, sit in the corner demanding that someone bring them salami and crisps, then proceed to throw it around the room”, with a chuckle. 

He shared with us how well a recent session went. With the session broken down into two slots that enabled the participants to get more time 1:1 and in smaller groups, there was first a group of 7 boys in the first session, and then 3 girls and 2 more boys in the second. Everybody was engaged. He said “even when one boy didn’t get his hands on the gear he was involved in the lyrics we were writing together. We made a rap about the school. We made beats. The TRA was so easy to engage them with”.

This work brings some kind of lift to the week at the PRU. That’s why they want us in on Wednesday we reckon. It can break the week up. To bring something different, perhaps more youth centered than usual activities. Especially with our young music leader, Alhor, on board. He’s lived and experienced a lot in his 20 years and somehow brings this work as easy as passing a butter dish. It’s great that they are able to choose it, and to come and go. This way it comes from them and isn’t piled on top of them like education can so often feel.

These young people travel into this centre village from miles around, some from remote and isolated parts of Devon. Ryan watched one morning as a child younger than 10 was scanned for knives. It felt bleak. 

This is an opportunity we have to offer them something unique.




What an interesting and tough year it has been. Young people’s mental and emotional wellbeing has been massively impacted by a number of issues that are rocking through the world. We’ve noticed how these young people are navigating the media and the political driving forces within it and behind it that many have learned not to trust. Some are growing more resilient, some are struggling, but there is a lot of learning and growth happening however you look at it. And they can be so savvy too. It’s so important that we find ways to listen to what’s going on beneath the surface, ask open questions to encourage creative thinking and develop our approach to meet them. They show us so much.

The sessions we have been running in the local secondary school, the Pupil Referral Unit and the local neighbourhood community hall have been pulling these young people into a creative space together, providing a nugget of inspiration and hope at a time when it isn’t always apparent in those around. We didn’t anticipate how powerful this work could be but somehow it feels just right for this time we are living in.

In a world of lockdown zoom and online meetings, where we’ve been socially distanced it’s great to bring young people together to be social, to simply get together to make something collaboratively. It has felt fundamental to maintaining a level of creative engagement and mental health. One approach we are happy with is the way we create the parameters for young people to explore what they want to do, without leading them too strongly. It gives them a feeling of freedom which isn’t found easily at school or in the home. This style of mentoring is so important to build rapport and trust. Although we feel we’re doing this well, what we are endlessly discovering are where the edges of that are: freedom vs structure, 

Working with Youth Music in 2021 on the Beats and Streets project has helped us to step up further, reflect so much more on our practice, develop new tools for evaluation and recognise the ongoing challenge we have to meet young people where they are at so we can truly help them to take steps forward. 

We feel like a completely different organisation having come through this last year, arriving in this place of growth and within a new physical studio space in town which we can finally call our own. A place we hope where our young people can create their own ‘home’, a safe space to be, to explore, to express, to feel heard. 


Bambi's Story

I was eight when I got my first guitar. I had some music lessons, but it wasn’t until I was 11 that I discovered my passion for music and my gift for song-writing. At 14 our family invested in a piano and I began to focus on this as my main instrument. Shortly afterwards, I wrote and recorded a song to protest against uniforms at school with a friend, Dylan. He then invited me to join a new music youth group, called Jamming Station.

 It was an amazing experience. I felt held and seen in the space, and comfortable to explore and expand as a musician. The facilities and resources helped me to build a firm foundation as a musician and the opportunities and connections I made were incredible. I had the space to perform original music within events and venues I'd never have accessed alone, from supporting Ryan Keen, to performing at the Barrel House and the Mayor's Gala. I learnt so much from these experiences, whilst growing in confidence and having lots of fun.

 At 15 I became unwell with complex mental health issues and Tourette Syndrome and spent long periods of time in and out of hospital. I disconnected myself from the world... until I started back at Jamming Station. Returning was like I was coming home and it was one of the few spaces in this time of my life I felt completely comfortable to just express and to be, and it helped me to regain confidence in a social setting. 

Of all the changes and uncertainty in my life, this much I have always known… that my purpose in life is to help myself and others through music. Music has been my one permanent source of expression and communication. I have used song-writing and composition to explore and understand myself and my emotions, events in my life and the world around me. When I share my songs, I am sharing part of my journey and this has given me a powerful voice. 

Returning as a Young Mentor to Jamming Station this year (I’m 23 yrs old) has been a full circle for me. Knowing how transformative Jamming Station was for me as a teen, I am incredibly proud to hold that space for young people. I started to help with some song-writing workshops and I have since been mentoring young musicians at the Civic Hall each Wednesday. The work provides great experience and teaching for me towards my future career and it’s incredibly rewarding to know I am making a difference and giving back into this incredible community space.  


Photo by Isobella Perks




Photo by Sam Garwood

Secondary school was overwhelming. I had been living in France and attending a small local school for seven years, and suddenly being in a big school in England was a shock. Girls who were meant to be my friends would run and hide when they saw me, and the bullying, smoking, fighting and vandalism I witnessed was really intimidating. I felt so alone. I can’t express quite how miserable I was.

Jamming Station was completely different. From that first session, everyone was so nice and supportive. During the vocal jam, I was amazed by people's confidence and ability. I was taught a lesson I always keep with me when singing; let the sound come out of your head and up into the sky. I came home buzzing. These weekly sessions gave me something positive to focus on and a space where I could be myself.

I left school last summer and am currently being homeschooled, which I worried would make me more lonely. But in the last few months I’ve begun to change. I’m still not the most confident person in the world, but I’m a lot more confident than I was. Now I can perform on stage, and go up and talk to people — things I never would have imagined I could do. And that’s down to Jamming Station — the mentors, the leaders, the musicians that are always willing to help without judging.

And, of course, the music. Music for me is a way to forget everything and just be in the here and now. Everything else disappears from your mind. You’re focusing on one thing.

Thank you Jacqui, Beth, Ryan, Jimi and Izzi.


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Larno was part of the core group of young musicians to start co-creating this new project in town, called Jamming Station. This was at a time of his life when his confidence in expressing himself was low. He was suffering emotionally with the aftermath of his parents splitting up and felt vulnerable in life. He was a shy, sensitive but experimental 14-year old creative artist.

His chosen instrument and style was unusual and didn’t fit easily with others’ sounds which would accentuate a feeling of insecurity. He thought the sound was quite alien to others and didn’t fit with the vibe of their music. He felt isolated socially. He didn’t know who he was and was really affected by how he thought others perceived him. It wasn’t encouraging that his peers would form tight social cliques which seemed threatening to him.

During times of self doubt and low self-esteem, Larno was able to confide in the adult leaders which helped him recognize and acknowledge his feelings better.

“I think at that age no-one really knows who they are. But at jamming station, because we are sharing something so universal as music, we all felt like it was a place where we can be honest with who we are and how we are feeling in that moment.”

This process encouraged new ways of exploring music with others. Larno developed a particular taste for improvisation with other musicians.

“I love the energy that gets created in a jam, and the spontaneity of it all as well, the fact that neither player knows on what path the music is going to take next”

Larno is now studying in London, continuing with music and dance. He looks back upon his early teenage years with Jamming Station and feels grateful as he developed some close friendships, performed at many gigs and grew to become at ease with his unique creative style. He feels that the project gave him the support and creative space for him to create something truly meaningful.

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“Ben joined The Jamming Station in January 2018 aged 14 playing bass guitar. Within weeks he was performing at The Phoenix in Exeter as part of a group. At the end of the first term he performed in the end of term gig at The Barrelhouse in Totnes. In the summer he busked in Totnes with other musicians from The Jamming Station on Saturdays. It is a great opportunity for the young musicians to experience being part of a band. Currently there is no opportunity for this to happen through school (Kingsbridge Community College) and no opportunities in Dartmouth where we live. The Jamming Station provides weekly sessions for the young people to work together to make music, both covers and original pieces. Living in a rural area as we do, it is vital that organizations like The Jamming Station are there to encourage and support young musicians. Ben has made new friends and enjoyed the experience of working with other band members.”
Shirley Tonkin

“Lara absolutely loves her time at Jamming Station. She has always wanted to perform and has a real passion for music. Jamming Station has enabled her to do this by providing the platform. Not only this it has given her the confidence to feel at ease on the stage. The welcoming environment it offers is second to none. Many thanks”
Caroline Fullalove

“I came not really knowing what to expect. It’s a recognisably unique and special project.
what an amazing opportunity. And such a great range of styles/sounds.”
Quote from Bibi Anna Lucia and Izzi’s friend

“What a wonderful evening!
I felt that the giving under 18's an opportunity to host an evening like last night felt really integral to the growth and continuation off youth cultures in provincial England. So much of young people’s tastes and experimentation is often demonised by adults. Allowing them the chance to perform in a good venue and have it be a success just shows that there is a demand for this. Young people are the future!”

“Young people are able to develop their communication, teamwork, and motivational skills by working with each other to produce and perform music.”
Simon Roberts, Area Youth Worker, Devon Youth Service

“brought me out of my comfort zone enormously”

“You’re giving them the opportunity to show their ability, be unique on themselves and not be judged.”
Karen, parent

“I have been in a world music cocoon and jamming station has helped me come out of it.”

You're doing a grand thing. Reuben came home after his 3rd session, included and motivated... inspired. He's seeing music/playing in a new light” Thank you.

I wish we had more platforms like this. There’s so much talent and here is a place for them to do this.

The teenagers have the freedom to vocalize their expression in a healthy way.

“I am quite a nervous person, but when i'm at Jamming Station I put all of that behind me when I walk through those doors. It has not only increased my playing and singing ability, it has set me new challenges, given me a great amount of motivation, performance opportunities and has also helped a lot with my recovery.”

“I have most enjoyed the atmosphere of the group which is very relaxed and welcoming”

“It’s given me the chance to get to know people and make friends. I’ve really enjoyed having a space to hang out and make music”

“It has given me the courage to perform to friends and I would like to rehearse more"

“I wish I had something like that when I was their age. We would just get ratarsed down at the skate park. When you hang out with your friends your parents don’t want you all around so you end up in February drinking cider in the cold. It’s really nice to see them sober and having a really nice time.”

“Jozef’s playing was haunting but also incredibly inspiring. Hearing about his experiences and how they have shaped him to be able to talk and inform people about his past was amazing. To also perform at this event was an unforgettable experience. Overall it was an enlightening event and I feel much more aware of the world around me and how it is seen by different people.”
Lara Fullalove

“What an awesome thing Jamming Station is! First session I’ve been to and I loved it. You’ve got it so right. From proud auntie moments listening to both nieces to rapping to soulful music to AC/DC cover with kazoo. Very very well done Beth Bee Love and all the crew and kids xxx”
Sarah Strachan

“I'd like to say a big thank you to you all at Jamming Station, Oscar has loved it & has certainly grown & developed performance skills & confidence, so good to see. Its inspired him to play with others & teach himself songs he likes on you tube :-) thank you! Hopefully see you at some future gigs at the Phoenix.”

“Helped me to not only perform in front of an audience but also value my voice more. Over the years I’m sure my slow growth in confidence has mostly come from attending Jamming station. I feel like it really held a base for me to enjoy music with others that had that same interest and so made me a more positive and healthy person.”

“Wonderful to see young people flexing their wings and flying high!”
Chris, musician

“Jamming station has really supported me with songwriting and improvisation on violin. Jamming station has given more time given me the space to try new ideas out “

“I love the energy that gets created in a jam, and the spontaneity of it all as well, the fact that neither player knows on what path the music is going to take next.”

“Jamming Station has given me motivation, plus space and time to do more with my music. I’ve made new friends and had the opportunity to perform”

“Jamming station has really opened my eyes to making our own music. . .it’s a great platform for performing and I have learnt a lot about performance from just one show with them.
This will help not just with my music but in other aspects of life such as confidence and expressing yourself."

I have enjoyed singing with other people and building my confidence

“I really enjoyed the performance as I usually just practice my drums on my own. It was brilliant and we all did really well.”

“When I play music, it's as if all my problems disappear and to be able to share that with people is incredible.”

"Jamming Station has given me the opportunity to do what I most love and to do that with others, to develop my skills and to have the chance to form friendships with people outside of school. It has built my confidence as a performer and as a person.”
Chloe, Singer, Age 15

The best 3 quid i've ever spent...

"That was the best 3 quid I've ever spent in the Barrel House', and I love how the adults are invited into a youth music night, instead of the other way round"
Lizzy, audience member from Totnes


"It was brilliant. People really enjoyed seeing the young musicians performing and then having the chance to perform on the Barrel House Ballroom stage. I hope these evenings will continue to happen" Mike, audience member, Ashburton.


If you are between 13 and 21 and want to take part in Jamming Station we would love to hear from you.
If you're a little older and want to support Jamming Station we would love to hear from you too!