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WIRED: our new project in music and tech for girls

by Heidi Johnson

Yorkshire Sound Women Network is excited to announce that due to successful Youth Music, ISME and Music For All funding bids we are about to become WIRED in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and University Centre Doncaster.

The WIRED project aims to inspire and educate the next generation of women working with music technology, giving them new skills, experience and enjoyment in music. Engaging with children and young people through a series of outreach workshops, music technology clubs and placement opportunities across Yorkshire, we aim to raise their confidence and help them to identify with the music and sound technology profession.

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A DJing workshop hosted by YSWN-affiliated group SONA. Photo: Angela Guyton

School and community outreach workshops

The workshops will be delivered to 11-18 year-olds in formal and non-formal education settings across Yorkshire. They’ll inspire children and young people with a combination of hands-on music technology fun, delving into the history of women in electronic music (looking at the pioneers and what they’ve achieved) as well as exploring careers and opportunities in sound technology.

WIRED music tech clubs

Two WIRED music technology clubs will run for girls and young women aged 11-18: one at Leeds Beckett University in Autumn 2019 and the other at DARTS in Doncaster, in partnership with University Centre Doncaster in 2020.

Martin Briggs, Head of Music at Leeds Beckett University, says of the project: “Leeds Beckett University is proud to support this initiative to inspire the next generation of women working with music technology. We look forward to hosting WIRED music technology workshop activities at our extensive sound tech labs and studio facilities here on Headingley campus.”

Sue Miller, Reader in Music at Leeds Beckett University adds: “The WIRED project could not be more timely with today’s growing awareness of the importance of representation and gender equality. The music technology club will introduce girls and young women to a wide range of music practices and technical skills and provide industry placement and mentoring opportunities to boot.

“Whether it be DJing, sound recording, coding, computer-based work or innovative ways to incorporate technology with live performance, this is an amazing opportunity to get involved with and one which the music department at Leeds Beckett University fully supports.”

Michael Dunn, Programme Leader for the BA in Creative Music Technology at University Centre Doncaster, says: “University Centre Doncaster is proud to be involved in the WIRED project. We believe that music technology is an exciting area of practice which should be accessible for all. Drawing on our own music and music technology resources, we hope to support YSWN in achieving the aims of the WIRED project, and look forward to inspiring the next generation of women to see where their own ideas and ambitions might take.”

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Making miniature noise instruments at a YSWN workshop. Photo: Linda Lewis

Each club will offer a series of weekly workshop activities over 12 weeks. Workshop details will be announced soon, with wide-ranging content to be agreed with participants, likely to include DJing, coding, computer-based music production, instrument making, sound recording and creating music, all delivered by YSWN’s brilliant network of professional producers/arts educators.

These clubs are open to all girls and young women and young people of non-binary gender identity and will be free of charge to attend. No previous experience is necessary.

Industry mentorship and placements

As the cherry on top, YSWN will be offering six mentorship/placement opportunities to young women aged 16-25. We’re looking to establish relationships with music studios, record labels, sound engineering companies and hardware/software developers to host a mentee. With a combination of practical work experience of a week or two, plus six hours of one-to-one mentoring support and advice from an individual within the host organisation, this is a great chance to get hands-on experience of a career in music and sound technology.

These opportunities will be promoted regionally through the community, with emphasis on Further Education institutions and careers services. The impact of the work will be measured during the project so we can share our insights within the sector to promote good practice in redressing the gender imbalance in sound technology.

If you know a group or individual who may like to take part in any of this fantastic project, as a music technology club attendee, school or club hosting a workshop, or a company to help develop a young person’s skills and career, please drop us a line: info@yorkshiresoundwomen.com

WIRED is supported by Youth Music using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England; ISME (International Society for Music Education); Music for All; and Kirklees Council via the Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool. WIRED is delivered in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and University College Doncaster.