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peoples' stories

There is clear evidence that arts education improves confidence in children, but we believe this is the case no matter what your age.


We asked Kathryn what her musical dreams were.  It took her about 3 seconds and a big smile before she declared ‘To write, record and release my own song one day’

We think we can definitely help with that!


Kathryn joined under the stars in February 2015. She had been referred by social services who had visited her to interview her and find out the type of activities she liked.


She already volunteered at the Royal Society for the Blind, but said she would love to do something where she could learn to make music.  Kathryn said: ‘music is in my family. My granddad was a natural on harmonica and my uncle saved all his pocket money to buy his first guitar and taught himself to play it. I’ve always wanted to play music too’. We found a place for Kathryn on our Monday music workshops.  She was painfully shy at first, and it was some months before we found out she was her mums' unpaid carer.


Kathryn’s mum was left disabled after a series of operations that had gone wrong. She manages well in her home environment, but if she goes out, Kathryn needs to be with her. Because of this she doesn’t get to socialise as much as other young women her age and it wasn’t easy for her to mix into a new group. When we found out about her caring responsibilities we referred her to the Young Adult Carers programme at Sheffield Carers Centre. Here she got access to a worker who was able to help her when she needed support and signpost her to other things that might interest her.


Despite being shy, as a musician, she was going from strength to strength. She has excellent rhythm and quickly showed her natural talent on the drums. She also tried out the guitar and keyboards during jam sessions and learnt how to DJ. She loved her Monday singing group and showed how adept she was at remembering lyrics. She has performed her own DJ sets at our nightclub over ten times now. Kathryn’s sets are guaranteed to fill the dance floor with pop classics she loves from artists like Rhianna, Little Mix and Olly Murs. 


Being a member of our workshops has not only helped Kathryn fulfil her dreams of becoming a musician, but also introduced her to a whole new world in terms of making friends and having the confidence to try new things.


Not content with just attending our Monday workshops, she also joined the all female band ‘The Sparkle Sistaz’ in 2018. Here she met a whole new group of friends and has performed as the lead singer on a couple of their original pop tracks. She made her first music video with the Sparkles in February 2019 which will be released on 8th March for International Women’s Day. The song is a poppy track about being proud to be a woman and not conforming to stereotypes of how women should be. You can check it out on our Youtube Channel after March 8th.


Kathryn is such an asset to Under the Stars. As well as becoming a great musician, she is going to be one of our DJ ambassadors for a DJ project we are running in Doncaster. We are extremely proud of what she has achieved in a short space of time.


We asked Anthony how he felt about being a musician

and being part of our music groups, he said:

“I love coming to Under the Stars.  Friday is one of my favourite days.  I’ve learnt how to set all the equipment up and I like helping out the tutors, there is always a lot to do.  I like being a roadie for gigs and learning how to play instruments.  The best days for me were playing on the Peace Gardens stage at the Tramlines Festival and at the Leadmill for ‘All our Bands’. With all the professional lights and everything, I felt like a rock star.  My dream though, would be to go on a proper tour with the Stars band.”


Iain and Anthony - Copy.jpg

They say that making music can help you discover yourself, and in the case of Anthony, one of our musicians, this certainly seems to have been the case.

Anthony was referred to Under the Stars when a social worker visited his home to do an assessment back in 2011. They were trying to find new activities to help Anthony gain confidence and improve his social skills. He’d always loved music (especially rock bands like ACDC and Bon Jovi), so they referred him to our brand new Friday rock band project.

Anthony couldn’t play any instruments back then, but with the help of tutors Moony and Chris, he soon started to have a go and learn simple musical concepts like rhythm, tempo and pitch. When the new players got up to a certain standard they began jamming and writing songs together and learning how to perform. It wasn’t long before they started doing gigs and performing their original songs like ‘Do you wanna rock’, ‘Louise’ and ‘Under the Stars’.


Fast forward seven years and Anthony is a different musician. He loves continuing to improve his instrumental skills. He now plays guitar, bass, keyboards and, in his words ‘a bit of drums’. He has learnt how to DJ, and made his nightclub debut at the Leadmill in December 2018.  He is a popular member of the Friday group with lots of friends and a key member of ‘The Stars Band’.

Anthony’s mum attributes lots of other positive changes in Anthony’s life to attending the music workshops. She says “he is so much more confident now. He can be painfully shy so I would never have dreamed he could have performed on that big stage at the Leadmill. He was beaming and enjoying every minute.  It was amazing. You could tell he’d stopped worrying as much about what his playing sounded like, he can just do it now.  It’s brilliant”.

We hope we can help make Anthony’s dreams come true one day by setting up a Stars band tour. If you would like to help more people with learning disabilities find their confidence and develop their talent through music, head over to our support page to help us today.


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