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Multicultural Music Making is a high—quality music in education programme for young people in the West Midlands. Now in its fifth year, the project began in September 2015, in partnership with three primary schools in the Ladywood area of Birmingham. Each week small groups of Key Stage 2 young musicians explore a range of music traditions, compose original work, and engage critically with international sounds. The choice of repertoire is primarily based on the heritage of the young people, as we seek to connect to their parents’ and grandparents’ cultural and musical traditions, and better understand the global journeys of people, stories and music. As the musicians grow in confidence and skill they perform to one another’s schools, families and neighbours, sharing what they’ve learned and created in their communities. MMM is a partnership between Natalie Mason and Friction Arts.

MMM draws on the strengths of the young people taking part, who live in and around Birmingham and Walsall and have connections to all corners of the world. The project creatively celebrates the international journeys that music and the young musicians themselves have made, with participant-led sessions based on our principles of practice, developed and supported by high quality ethnomusicological research. Visiting musicians from many different musical disciplines also participate in MMM, introducing instruments, songs and narratives from across the globe.

Friction Arts has created a framework with Natalie Mason to develop MMM. Natalie is project leader, supported by associate professional artists; she has devised the core programme, structure and content. Co—Director of Friction Arts, Sandra Hall, is the artistic mentor for the project, providing strategic and creative support. She is also responsible for the development of partnerships and creative ways that MMM can connect to a range of projects in Friction Arts’ current portfolio. Our partnerships with our schools has inspired new projects that speak directly to, and positively impact, broader aspirations of school and community settings to connect with people. Projects such as Recipes & Stories were created as a response to the passion and generosity of MMM families who were contributing food to events and demonstrate the lateral cross—art, inter-generational approach that Friction Arts embed in their work. We have also co-financed a two year programme of drama in three of our schools, developing imagination, verbal, presentation skills and self—confidence with, and for, children. Strategic partnerships for MMM include Youth Music, THSH, BCMG, Arts Connect West Midlands and macBirmingham. In 2018 Friction Arts were invited to join the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations.

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