Where the money goes

Two reports from our projects

The first Clutha Trust class that I was involved with was run at Royston Youth Action Community Centre. I was usually working with groups of four youngsters at a time, some of whom had experience with other instruments. The group was challenging at first as some of the youngsters had fairly serious behavioural issues. Most of the students responded very well to the lessons and enjoyed learning new skills. I feel that music tuition can be a fantastic opportunity for young people, especially in areas like Royston that have high levels of crime and unemployment. Many youngsters that I meet during these types of classes will be underperforming in school and getting into trouble. Music tuition can be a great way to teach self-discipline and build confidence, as well as encouraging creativity and team work.

The Rosyton class was run at the same time as our first collaboration with the Princes Trust. This class was a big success and several of the students performed very well during the lessons. Some had clearly been putting in a lot of practice between lessons and I’m confident they will continue to practice and improve as musicians. As well as opening up avenues to work in the creative industries, practicing a musical instrument can be a great motivator for youngsters to stay away from destructive habits. Most of the youngsters I’ve worked with during Clutha Trust sessions have had some form of behavioural issues, or have been out of school/work for extended periods of time. I feel the guitar lessons were a valuable addition to the Princes Trust course, which is designed to build confidence, develop life skills and work towards youngsters gaining qualifications and work experience. I was particularly happy with one student who had been very quiet and shy at first. As he progressed on the guitar, he became much more confident in lessons and started to bond well with the group. I believe that the Clutha Trust classes are particularly valuable to quieter students who may be lacking confidence and social skills. The classes provide a fun and relaxed environment for students to bond while learning new skills.

These courses were followed by projects in Miltonbank Primary School and Anniesland College. I had mixed results in Miltonbank with class attendance being lower than I’d had with the other 3 projects, though the youngsters involved certainly enjoyed the classes. The ten week course in Anniesland was concluded with all students performing two songs at their graduation ceremony. I seen some great potential with this group and I am very hopeful that several students will continue to progress on the guitar and with music in general. The class was always keen to learn and I believe that my music classes led to the group bonding and having fun together. Working towards the graduation performance was nerve wracking for some of the group, but everyone performed very well on the day and thoroughly enjoyed it. I strongly believe experiences like this build confidence and self-belief, leading to students acquiring better social skills and job prospects.

As well as providing fantastic music tuition opportunities for youngsters, the Clutha Trust has also furthered my career prospects as a music teacher. When I was chosen as the Clutha Trust music tutor, I was already an experienced guitar teacher. I have been teaching private guitar lessons for many years, allowing me to part fund my Music Performance Honours Degree. My appointment as a Clutha Trust Music Tutor came about a year after I finished my degree. This was a big confidence booster for me and the experience of teaching different groups around the city has been invaluable. I feel that many of the youngsters that I’ve worked with really benefitted from our sessions. In my role as Clutha Trust Tutor, I aim to encourage a hard work ethic, self-motivation and other skills that can lead to better job/qualification prospects. Many youngsters that I meet are impressed that I’ve managed to work towards my dream job of being a full time musician. I strongly emphasise how hard I’ve had to work for this opportunity and encourage my students to work hard to achieve their own goals and dreams.

I look forward to being involved in other Clutha Trust classes in the future.

Yours sincerely

David Mackinnon

The Clutha Trust: Rap4Life Programme
Ashkan Farzan
Rap Tutor


In this report I will highlight the importance of rap workshops and how it is used to support young people, allowing them to develop a variety of personal skills. Through an art form that is infamously associated with many negative stereotypes, especially within the mainstream media, it may be difficult to see why it is important to provide facilities where young people can engage in such activities, but by sharing my experiences I am confident you will agree that it is an extremely powerful tool to encourage positive change within the youth of our generation.

The Organisations & The Young People

During my time of working as a rap tutor for the Clutha Trust I have had the opportunity to work in various locations with organisations including the Royston Youth Action, New Rhythms For Glasgow, The Barn Youth Centre, Youth Community Support Agency and the Princes Trust. Through this experience I have met many young people who face a whole spectrum of difficulties in their lives such as poverty, racism, sectarianism, bullying, learning disabilities, violence and drugs. The workshops have fitted extremely well with the existing programmes within the organisations in terms of either adding another element to the work they do or attracting more young people to their services.

The Workshops

A normal workshop would begin by me familiarising the participants with music tempos and time signatures. Next I encourage them to construct sentences and speaking them in a rhythm and then work on their rhyme scheme by focusing on ending every line in a way that fits well with the previous one. Throughout this process they have already been distracted from the fact that they are learning new words and thinking mathematically about how to organise them while reflecting on the issues they face and arranging real evocative content. Of course this is all done after having to perform an impressive verse for them in the first place so they are inspired to achieve a level of lyrical success.

The Effect

I have watched young individuals make outstanding progress in the course of only a limited number of weekly one-hour sessions. As a result of rap workshops they become more confident, curious, creative, competitive and analytical despite learning barriers such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia. Furthermore, the skills learned have a direct impact on how they deal with challanges that they face. This is definitely a joy to be a part of.
One of the young people that I have known for a longer period of time started as a bad communicator and writer with crippling lack of confidence. He is now articulately able to engage well within group situations, is currently studying journalism and also very skilled in graphic digital arts.

In conclusion: Rap’s Cool!

It is precisely because of this, we can get a glimpse into the minds of young people by simply bypassing so many barriers that they would otherwise put up when learning from an authority figure. These worksops give them an opportunity to apply themselves to something that will help them develop confidence, build language and presentation skills, equip them to be able to secure jobs in the future, and allow them to construct a platform on which they can express themselves.
It is unfortunate that the education system lacks sessions such as these as a part of the English class. Therefore, I think it becomes evermore necessary for youth work to fill this gap and make a real difference. In other words, we need a rap school. Why? Because rap’s cool.