One Spirit Extended

A new strand of our successful rehabilitation and mentoring project for young offenders will take place in HMYOI Aylesbury thanks to a new grant from the Young Londoners Fund.
Read More about One Spirit.

Shortlisted for the ‘Music & Drama Education Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre’

We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the ‘Music & Drama Education Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre’, for our work on Trench Brothers.

More on the project can be found HERE on the website.

Julian Joseph Jazz Academy – Duke Ellington Summer Course

at Mossbourne Academy, E5 8JY

Come and join us for a special four-day course focusing on the masterworks of one of America’s greatest composers – Duke Ellington.

You will develop the following skills:

  • Playing from direct, professional transcriptions taken from the original recordings.
  • Learning the rich history behind each piece of music being played, and the band behind it.
  • Gaining experience playing as part of a large jazz ensemble.
  • Building confidence reading and interpreting big band charts.
  • Socialising and meeting like-minded, driven young jazz musicians.

The four days will culminate with a relaxed performance for all friends and family.


The course will be at Mossbourne Academy, E5 8JY, and is specifically for sax, trumpet, trombone and rhythm section players (approx. grade 5+, no audition required) though places are limited (especially for rhythm section players), so book now to reserve a place and avoid disappointment.

The full four-day course costs £179.00
Payable when you accept the place.

Discounted fees £159.00 available for students who attend the Jazz Blues Course or the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.



New Saplings Programme at Music Treehouse: Interactive music making

The Music Treehouse programme at HMDT Music’s Saturday Programme, offers younger disabled children access to high quality interactive music making, boosting social skills and confidence, and offering pathways to learning through songs and participatory musical activities. The relationship between singing and speech (in the context of people with special needs) is well researched, and we find there are linguistic breakthroughs among some of the children as they become more familiar and more confident with the songs. We focus on simple tasks, encouraging the young people to join in, and even lead activities, and there are no barriers in terms of ability. For us as a team of skilled musicians we keep musical standards high, even if words and melodies have to be easy enough to encourage participation. But the combination of keyboard, percussion, flute and guitar to accompany the songs, as well as the team’s skills in improvisation, mean that we can change soundworlds in an instant, and maintain focus throughout the sessions.


As the year has progressed we have seen huge changes in the attention levels of some individuals, as they grasp the fact that making music is both fun and empowering, and that they are free to take part at any level. We try to make every moment of a session joyful, and we introduce different elements to increase stimulation, including puppets and movement work. It’s really a whole body, whole mind, whole voice approach. Some children are non-verbal/vocal, but they often have acute understanding, and certainly can participate to the same level as vocal students, even if their participation is expressed in different ways. When percussion is introduced, every child can contribute equally, and the combination of sound and rhythm changes the dynamic of the room, often dramatically, with individuals often becoming confident enough to lead sections.


This year the overarching theme has been the animal world. We have made from scratch songs about hounds, birds, geese, moles, tigers and lions. Puppets help tell the stories of these creatures, and we always bring animals to life through movement work as well as sound. Often, we travel from one animal environment to another with the help of a bus song. And each session begins with a familiar hello song, as well as songs to warm up the body, and get us in the mood to make music. The session ends with a bespoke goodbye song, which is calming and which sends the participants away on a quiet note. Our autistic children respond particularly well to these more calming activities.


Tim Yealland MBE
Music Treehouse Saplings Workshop Leader



One Spirit – Update March 2019

The One Spirit project has enjoyed continued success over the last 12 months delivering its 10th year of music based and resettlement focused projects across 3 institutions: HMYOI Feltham (A & B Side), HMYOI Cookham Wood and HMP Highdown, as well as in communities around Greater and Central London.


With a monthly presence in all three institutions One Spirit has engaged 177 young people over the course of the year in its weeklong RESIDENCY projects, 1to1 IN-CUSTODY MENTORING sessions or 1to1 THROUGH THE GATE MENTORING sessions in the community post release. Of the 177 young people who participated 51 have accessed one or more strands of the project. 5 young people have been released during the year and accessed our Through the Gate program, making the number of those currently working with One Spirit in the community 37.


The number young people serving sentences for violent crimes has increased since last year. At times we have delivered to groups of participants half of whom are serving sentences for murder. This has made the ‘classroom’ a more highly charged environment, not so much because of potential conflict between participants (only one incident in the year) but because of the underlying frustrations, fears and general mental health of the young people. We continue to create ever more breathing room in the activities we deliver and keep well being embedded in our primary targets. This year residency and in-custody mentoring participants said:


“Coming here is just calm… like de-stressing if that makes sense.” Participant at HMYOI Feltham


“It made me feel more confident because I was working with other young people and it made me confident because of help from staff.” Participant HMYOI Cookham Wood


From evidence and feedback collected from participants: 92% said they felt more confident; 92% felt better about the future; 63% felt more able to manage anger/frustration and 58% said they felt more motivated as a result of participating.


An external evaluation has been carried out over the year by Dr Anthony Gunter (Senior Lecturer Criminology UEL) for which he has observed One Spirit in residency at Cookham Wood and Feltham and working in the community in London and the South East. The report analyses the data collected and outcomes observed during the period but more importantly aims to tell ‘the story behind the data’, with first hand observations, direct feedback and interviews supporting and explaining the figures and ultimately telling ‘how and why One Spirit works’.


One Spirit ‘through the gate’ has worked with a total of 37 young people and young adults over the course of the last year. 13 young people are accessing the programme at least once a month, engaged in activities from making/recording music to getting help from One Spirit to set up their own business or more generally search for jobs or prepare for interviews. Just under half of the 37 are more occasional attendees on the programme, making contact, for example, for specific advice regarding a recording contract (in one case), setting up a limited company (in another) or just to catch up. One Spirit mentors have also helped several young men recently released to prepare for and access apprenticeship programs in construction and catering/hospitality. Predictable, but nevertheless interesting to observe is how much more mature participants become around the age of 19/20. The reoffending rate amongst the through the gate group of 37 young men is 10%. 33 out of 37 have stayed out of custody for 6 months or more, with 25 out of custody for longer than 12 months. Of the 4 young men who were recalled to custody 2 were 17, 1 was 18 and 1 was 21.


58% of those accessing the Through the Gate programme are in employment and 29% are in further education / training.


Going into 2019 One Spirit will continue its work in all 3 prisons with some exciting developments. At HMYOI Cookham Wood we will explore working more with prisoners accessing ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) in a bid to create ever more consistency for young people during their transition from custody to community. Demand across the prison has grown in general throughout the year and One Spirit and Cookham Wood are looking at various ways to increase access to the programme in the prison during 2019. At HMYOI Feltham B Side One Spirit will develop its mentoring programme in a new bespoke space on Education B Side, working with the Learning and Skills department to consolidate and lend specialisation to the Employment and Resettlement offering.


“I was transfixed with how one of the young men was connecting with the HMDT tutor. There are many females working here, so the fact that the HMDT tutor was a man and spoke the lingo was really good. The HMDT team had the young men focused and engaged for the entire session. In the team meeting I spoke about how impressed I was with the One Spirit project and the work HMDT were doing with the young men.” Female Staff Tutor HMYOI Cookham Wood.


Article: Charlie Parker, Project Manager, One Spirit


With thanks to:


National Commemoration Days

Our first National Commemoration Days were launched in 4 schools to 1000 children. Students participated in art workshops, learning First World War songs, meeting an Indian Soldier costumed interpreter and exploring artefacts. The days culminated in moving commemoration services bringing together all the activities from the day including laying poppy wreaths and placing newly made medals onto barbed wire in remembrance alongside army drill and songs.


Berger School

The team were amazing, helping the children explore each activity and the range of sessions gave each child an opportunity to play to their strengths. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves


As always with HMDT Music, it was thoughtful and meaningful and gave us all a lot to think about


The WW1 workshop day was very interesting and the artefacts were really unique. It was a once in a life experience


I really enjoyed the singing workshop because the warm up and songs were fun and catchy


The best day in Year 5!


I was looking forward to it all week but it was even better than I thought it would be!

Trench Brothers at Mayor’s Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square

On the 28 October 2018 The I Can Sing! Music Theatre Programme Seniors and Richard Sumitro performed excerpts from Trench Brothers to a crowd of thousands (including the Mayor himself), at the Mayor’s Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square.

Alongside the performance, The Royal British Legion showcased the Indian section of our Trench Brothers Exhibition at the Festival.

We were very honoured to be part of this great event – a fitting end to the Trench Brothers project.

Trench Brothers Performances at Brighton Dome

The Music Teacher

This was a truly incredible and moving performance that serves as a fitting tribute to the soldiers whose stories are too often left out of the narrative of the war.

On the 17 October 2018 HMDT Music’s Trench Brothers was performed to great acclaim, at Brighton Dome to audiences of around 1,500 people. The finale of four year’s work around the country, it brought together songs written with schools in London, Lancashire and the South East in a unique collaboration of musical genres alongside the core music theatre work by composers Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor set to a libretto by our Creative Director Tertia Sefton-Green.

It was performed by children from 7 local schools, Seniors from our own I Can Sing! programme and top artists Cleveland Watkiss, Damian Thantrey and Richard Sumitro accompanied by students from our Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, our CYMH tutors and the Jasdeep Singh Degun Indian Sitar and Tabla duo.


The Music Teacher

Tertia Sefton-Green’s libretto masterfully engages its adult audience while ensuring that the content remains accessible and understandable to the young people taking part. Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor’s music help to elevate the performance into something wonderful to experience – each character’s culture is reflected in their music and it is a joy to hear different genres and influences being woven together to reinforce the narrative’s themes of camaraderie.

London Jazz Review

An affecting music theatre work……. ‘letters home’ …. have all the poignancy, humour, sadness, bitterness and gritty historical detail that you would expect.
HMDT Music have form for taking on projects with big themes.

Trench Brothers: an ode to whitewashed war heroes – an article by Kamila Shamsie

Ahead of HMDT Music’s Trench Brothers premier on Wednesday 17th October at Brighton Dome, award-winning Kamila Shamsie has written this wonderful article about not only the history behind the project but also its relevance for today.

Read her article HERE.

New Whole School Project Launch – National Commemoration Days

National Commemoration Days : Armistice Centenary 2018

HMDT Music presents a unique opportunity to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day with a one day whole school ever offering a series of activities and guest visits. The event is inspired by its successful Trench Brothers project commemorating the contribution of ethic minority soldiers in the First World War.

The day includes:

  • Artefacts handling sessions looking at weapons, uniforms and memorabilia from the First World War;
  • An Indian Soldier costumed interpreter sharing his experiences of life in the trenches on the Front Line;
  • Artist workshops to create a visual and creative response to the First World War;
  • Singing sessions to learn First World War songs;
  • Online toolkits to research specific soldiers leading to students writing Letter Home from the Front;
  • Access to the Trench Brothers Education Zone offering contextual information and 90 lesson plans and activities linked to the curriculum;
  • A commemoration event bringing together all the elements explored during the day.


Available 5 – 16 November 2018.


Cost: FROM £1,500 Dependent on school size.

To book your place contact: or call HMDT Music on 020 8882 8825