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Rock Against Racism: Band In A Week Project Review

From the 23rd to the 27th July 2018, Community Music partnered with Alexandra Palace and Rock Against Racism to deliver the palace's first ever summer music school for young people.

Following on from previous successful collaborations with Alexandra Palace, we were excited to run our summer ‘Band In A Week’ project in the iconic building, especially inspired by the Rock Against Racism movement, a cause very close to our heart. Alexandra Palace played host to the final concert of the Rock Against Racism movement on the 14th April 1979.

Band In A week is a unique project that invites a group of 13-19 year-olds to become band members in a week, guiding them through four days of instrumental tuition and rehearsals under the supervision of experienced tutors, in preparation for a special live performance at the end of the week.

The week began with introductions from all the Community Music tutors and participants, along with a speech from Syd Shelton, the official photographer for the Rock Against Racism Movement. He  gave a slide show of his pictures, and spoke passionately about the movement and why it still has so much relevance in today’s social and political climate.

Syd Shelton from Rock Against Racism

After daily warms ups to integrate and motivate the group, young people were able to rotate between all the different instruments, getting expert tuition on drums, bass, guitar as well as writing songs and practicing vocals.

The full group in a warm up exercise

Bands of four or five members were formed with the help of the tutors, and set about composing and rehearsing songs to be performed in front of their peers, friends and family at the end of the week. With plenty of encouragement, tips and advice from the tutors, the bands worked together brilliantly and impressed the audience with their final performances on the Friday.

Vocal/songwriting tutor Zoe and some young people getting creative


Drum tutor Michelle knows where the snare is!


Bass Tutor Steve asks for a tune up!


At the end off the project, feedback from participants, parents and Alexandra Palace staff who attended was really positive. They all expressed surprise at the level of ability  of the group, the confidence to perform as a group after only five days and the obvious friendships which had been built. As a celebration of the project the Palace has invited the group to perform on the People’s Stage at the Great Fete on the 18th August.

Performance time!


Below are a few of the comments we received:

I watched the amazing performances this afternoon!  What a great project.  I thought the young people all did a brilliant job to nail those songs after only a few days. They showed great confidence to get up there and play for everyone, even the weird office people who turned up! Well done to everyone involved from your team, volunteers and the other charity.
Alexandra Palace Staff

Huge thanks to you and your team for running such a brilliant project. It was wonderful on many levels. A big group of the kids from the course are getting together tomorrow to hang out and they have made plans as far ahead as October to go to see the new Freddy Mercury film together. The course gave them a format to play together and connect with other local young people with a shared interest in music who they might otherwise never have met. I can see them musically working together well beyond this summer - what a gift!

Thank you so much for organising this project for young people, my children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I've noticed that it boosted their confidence.


The Great Fête takes place this Saturday, 18th August at Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY. ENTRY IS FREE!

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