Saturday Rooftop Academy is HMDT Music’s new band programme for Year 9+ students to work with industry professionals.

Students will learn established standards, and learn how to arrange and compose both their own songs and existing material. They will also benefit from: the experience of a professional recording artist, learning about the music industry, how to plan a set and a range of performance opportunities.

Who is it for?

If you’re Year 9+, minimum Grade 4 or equivalent on an instrument or voice, and want to have fun making music in a band or group and explore music from different genres, cultures and eras, then this is the programme for you! If you are also taking or thinking of taking GSCE or A-Level music this will be a great opportunity to enhance your musical skills and knowledge.

What does it offer?

  • Performing music you enjoy in our new Rock/Pop Band and creating your own;
  • Composition with professional composers who cover a broad spectrum of genres;
  • Guest masterclasses from specialist artists from across the industry;
  • Performance opportunities;
  • The option to add an individual instrumental or singing lesson.





HMDT Music is delighted to have been awarded the London Youth Bronze Quality Mark!

NEW Arts CPD Programme for Primary Schools

HMDT Music’s new TIME CPD Programme: Embedding the Arts across the Curriculum  embraces our award-winning methodology refined over the past twenty years. The online year-long programme delivered by a team of expert artist educators builds technical skills for teachers in a range of art forms and introduces new ideas, methodologies and resources to support use of the arts to enhance the curriculum, raise achievement and inspire learning. The 12 sessions in art, music, drama, film and puppets are designed to give teachers confidence and expertise to help enhance students’ creativity, imagination and curiosity by delivering a broad and rich curriculum.


It has developed my classroom practice immeasurably, constantly being inspired by the new approaches to learning. Teacher

For more information



One Spirit – Update June 2021

At 8.00am on Tuesday March 24th 2020 we (One Spirit team) had just pulled into the car park of HMYOI Cookham Wood when we received a call from Cookham Wood’s education manager asking us to stay put; she’d call back in 5 minutes and update us on their ‘Covid plan’. Sure enough, 5 minutes later she called back and apologetically told us the prison was now fully locked down.


For the next 6+ weeks all face to face / in person One Spirit activities ceased; mentors switched to communicating with their mentees, and where appropriate delivering sessions by zoom and / or phone.  This worked well if the mentee had good Internet access – one mentee in particular was able to continue working on his business plan and setting up his record label with the mentor’s remote help – but with many of the cohort it was a poor substitute for the support they continued to need, if indeed it was possible at all.


By mid May face to face sessions gradually started to resume. It was noticeable that most of the young people (especially the younger ones) enrolled in the One Spirit mentoring program appeared generally nervous and confused about coming out, more unwilling than ever to use public transport and, given the stereotypes of this cohort being lawless and irresponsible it was surprising to see how confused and in even more need of solid guidance and direction they appeared to be.


The intensification of 2020’s BLM movement and the events preceding and following the death of George Floyd had no small impact on the individuals One Spirit works with in the community, 96% of whom are black or of mixed race heritage, and in what is almost post-Lockdown UK 2021 this impact continues to resonate. In addition and further heightening the intensity and vulnerability of the young people we work with the teenage murder rate in 2021, after only 5 months, has already surpassed that of 2020.


All these events combined have proved to be both a positive and negative motivator. Positively, the demand for our services from YOT has increased, young people’s attendance at sessions in the community has improved and it has been noticeable that most of the young people we are working with seem more motivated to find employment and / or enquire about further education. Negatively and perhaps predictably, the issue of isolation intensified during 2020, along with boredom, hopelessness and the loss of motivation. It was hard to get some young people to come out immediately after the first lockdown, but mentors kept up constant communication with their mentees and by late June 2020 face to face sessions gathered pace. This included mentors travelling to see young people in their communities around Greater London, and in some cases further afield if the young person had been re-housed outside London, as well as delivering sessions in one of the One Spirit mentor locations in either North West or South London.


In July of 2020 the education manager at Oakhill STC (formerly of HMP Aylesbury) contacted HMDT Music requesting the support of the One Spirit programme.  Oakhill houses 14-18 year olds, who for various reasons have been deemed too vulnerable to serve sentences in ‘mainstream’ YOIs. One Spirit delivery started with groups of up to 4 young people within the main education timetable; as soon as One Spirit staff had keys delivery switched to 1to1 support sessions for specific young people, identified as such either because of their resettlement plans or because of other specific needs. One Spirit staff have forged great relationships with staff at the centre and delivered some crucial and valuable work with young people, some of whom have already connected with the programme in the community post-release. Ofsted recently inspected the centre and rated HMDT Music’s provision there very highly amongst the aspects of education and care that are working well:

The link with the Hackney Music Trust is both interesting and meaningful.  It provides a very effective hook to engage the learners in other activities including self-evaluation and reflection.  It provides an emotional outlet for the teenagers and work has been done with the management to secure an understanding that “what is said in the room, stays in the room” (unless there are security/safety concerns).  The music activities provide a channel for the development of communication skills as the learners develop lyrics.  As well as providing an opportunity to develop a long-term hobby, this work has a resettlement aspect as the young people are followed up on release.  There are very close and effective links with the Music Technology teacher to ensure meaningful cross-over of technical and creative activities.

Gemma Howarth, Head of Education, Oakhill Secure Training Centre


In the last month (May/June 21) the prison service has given the go ahead to YOI establishments to restart work with outside agencies; HMYOIs Feltham and Cookham Wood and HMP Aylesbury have all been in touch with HMDT Music to discuss a resumption in delivery.


Work in the community continues apace, and of the 24 young people / adults currently accessing the programme:


  • 33% are in college or further education
  • 54% are in full or part time employment
  • 91% have not reoffended


Young people, their parents / carers, and the staff working with them in statutory settings continue to give positive feedback about One Spirit’s programme:


I can go studio with my boys, but it’s not the same. You were there with me when I was in jail and you’ve continued to be there since I came out. I’m not saying you’re my counsellor, but coming studio with you is like counselling, I need it. It’s fun and all that, but also it really helps.

Young person engaging with One Spirit in the community


We’ve just been talking for like 45 minutes and hardly done any music, but it was a sick lesson; thanks Sir.

Young person after 1to1 session at Oakhill STC


This is so helpful, there should be more things like this. I’m really glad I came with D today.”

Young person’s mother, attending a session in the community with her son


I just wanted to thank you for sending over the updates on the young people’s progress.  I wanted also to feedback to you on the service you offer as we have just undergone an inspection and your work was highlighted as a particularly positive intervention.


 What stood out to inspectors was the fact that you were able to open up and remain a safe environment during much of the lockdown – providing a much-needed outlet for our young people.  You were one of the few agencies to do this and this was appreciated hugely by the young people we work with and practitioners alike. Furthermore the fact that you continue to work with young people after their Order or YOT involvement is complete provides us with an excellent ‘exit plan’ for our young people and means that they continue to engage in positive activities.

 It was also noted that through the excellent work you do in Oakhill and HMP YOI you have been able to offer some continuity for our young people from your work with them both in the community and in custody- this is hugely comforting to them at a time when they feel most alone and vulnerable.


Basically just a big thank you for all you do – please keep doing it!!”

Manager, Merton YOT

CYMH: Instrumental School

Looking for instrumental lessons for your child? Live in Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets but not sure where to start or what instrument? Why not give us a call? The HMDT Music Saturday Programme has something for everyone and is the ideal place for your child to start learning an instrument. Our music lessons for children aged 5 plus take place within an extensive curriculum including group and individual instrumental tuition, singing, musicianship and ensembles, as well as the Orchestra and Choirs!


So what can we expect from CYMH Instrumental School?


For students in school years 1 and 2, we offer the Minis programme. Minis have two classes – a singing and drama/movement class building performance skills and a Recorder and General Musicianship class to develop all-round musicianship skills. Students will take part in dynamic and engaging music theatre and movement, learn instrumental skills, benefit from increased confidence, and participate in exciting performances and develop strong team building skills. Students going into school year 2 will take part in the Autumn term instrumental tasters, alongside the group session. At the end of the Autumn term, students will then select which instrument they wish to learn for the Spring and Summer terms.


Students then progress up a programme ladder as they increase in confidence and ability with more exciting opportunities including ensembles, bands & choirs. Those students interested in taking exams are able to do so at our centre, we also have aural preparation sessions, and extra Grade 5 theory classes to support those at that stage in their learning.


This sounds amazing – but, my child is older than school year 1. Is there an opportunity to get them involved? Of course! We can offer individual lessons through our Music Lessons for you Scheme, and once they are playing at a similar level, they can either choose to join as an ensemble student and continue with their private lessons, or join in with an appropriate level group.


My child is playing at a Grade 4 level or above – is there anything for them? Absolutely! We have two programmes – The Blue Programme or Jazz Blues programme. These are by audition only and like all the programmes are tailored to that specific experience level. Also – NEW this year is the rooftop Academy for students in year 9+ who are grade 4 and above. Interested? Please drop Sabina a line on 020 8882 8825 or team@hmdtmusic.org.uk




I Can Sing! Music Theatre School

Interested in Music Theatre or the Performing Arts? Live in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Islington or East London? Look no further! At I Can Sing! we offer the opportunity to train in a variety of stage disciplines with leading professional artists, gaining new skills, confidence and firm friendships.
Entry is non-auditioned with the focus on reinforcing the ensemble performing tradition. To do this we draw of repertoire that includes classic Broadway numbers alongside our own original traditions.


With programmes for students from Year 1 upwards, there is something for every school age! Uniquely since I Can Sing! is part of a larger Saturday Music Programme, students can also opt to take additional instrumental or singing lessons (subject to availability).


So what can I expect to receive from I Can Sing!


School Years 1 & 2 are a little different as they are aimed at aimed at developing all-round musicianship – the foundation for all musical styles, and also give students the opportunity to try an instrument so that students are given the tools and opportunities to try both Musical Theatre, and more classical music training before choosing which direction they wish to go at the end of Year 2.


From Year 3 onwards, each group at I Can Sing! goes into a structured specific Music Theatre training where there are a series of classes in: Singing, Dance, Drama & Stagecraft. They work towards termly performances which gives everyone the opportunity to showcase the musical theatre repertoire that they have been learning, or even in some cases, been creating!


This is truly the most fantastic programme, and although we do not have an agency attached, students should they wish to audition at the right time for productions, will be given support. Past students have gone on to appear in a range of productions including We Will Rock You, as well as our own large-scale productions, the most recent being Trench Brothers at the Brighton Dome.



Saturday Early Years Music Classes: The Music Box

Looking for a Saturday Toddler Music Class? Do you live in Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets or East London? Look no further! Come and join us at The Music Box, the programme that is more than just a baby or toddler music class. In this Early Years Music Class all music is performed live (no recorded music allowed!) with regular guest artists to introduce the whole family to different genres, cultures and traditions. One week you could find yourself immersed in the world of Klezmer, another you could be discovering the music & instruments that form a Classical Brass Quintet. You could be learning how to dance like a traditional Chinese Dancer or how to play and make a digeridoo!


We have two classes aimed at different age brackets each led by a different wonderful leader in order to ensure progression. In each session families will do a number of activities that help introduce and develop the fundamentals of music. As well as being introduced to our Guest Artists each week Singing, Movement and Music Skills are integrated into the classes. You can expect yourself to be singing a selection of songs from the favourite nursery rhymes (these are always requested in the ‘childrens choice’ section), to musicals and even songs from our very own early years song books (available to purchase at the Saturday Programme). Early Musical Skills are introduced from around 12 months as concepts such as pitch, rhythm and tempo are introduced through percussion instruments, focusing on developing listening skills and concentration in a group environment. All these skills also help prepare children for nursery and school by introducing concepts such as team work, sharing and instilling structured learning whilst having a huge amount of fun! Music is also fantastic at developing speech, vocabulary, and general communication.


Sounds like fun? Classes happen at Bridge Academy on Laburnum Street –  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION


HMDT Music is committed to ensuring that music is for all – we also have a specialist SEND Music Box programme for the over 2s. You don’t need to have a specific diagnosis at the time of applying as many children don’t receive these until later. The class operates very slightly differently to what is described above – for more information please do email team@hmdtmusic.org.uk.




LAST CHANCE to buy tickets for “Jina and the STEM Sisters”


“Jina and The STEM Sisters seeks not solely to promote creativity … but opens arms to young girls, advocating them to be courageous in the face of oppression, be proud in the curiosity they demonstrate and be weird, be clever, and driven to explore the world.”

The Reviews Hub



Preview 7: We asked our female team to sum up the project in just one or two words. It proved quite a challenge! How would you summarise the show?


PREVIEW: The one word challenge to describe the show!



“This is a production that can be appreciated on several levels and it is most definitely worth seeing with your children.”

London Living Large


Featuring puppeteers Ruth Calkin and Nix Wood, singers: Nadine Benjamin, Eloise Eisenberg, Abigail Kelly, Susan Moore, Jessica Gillingwater and the I Can Sing! Children’s Chorus, with the STEM Sisters band directed by Jenny Gould.


For ALL ages from 8+.


Streaming NOW! until 11 April.


Find out more and book tickets HERE!

ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT! “Witty as well as enlightening” – Preview 6: The STEM Sisters Team!

“I was thrilled to “meet” Hedy Lamarr, the American actress whose scientific work led to wifi, Bluetooth and GPS. Her puppet sings all about it. Why had I not heard of this woman? Because we’re taught/told only about male achievers, I suppose, and that’s the whole point of the enjoyable Jina and the STEM Sisters”.
Musical Theatre Review



Did you know that Jina and the STEM Sisters isn’t just about inspirational women, but created by an entirely female team? This week we hear about what drew Director Clare Whistler to the project, and who else was involved in creating our “enchanting and “inspiring puppetry musical”.



Why not make an event of it and share this with your friends and family?


“This is a production that can be appreciated on several levels and it is most definitely worth seeing with your children.”
London Living Large


Featuring puppeteers Ruth Calkin and Nix Wood, singers: Nadine Benjamin, Eloise Eisenberg, Abigail Kelly, Susan Moore, Jessica Gillingwater and the I Can Sing! Children’s Chorus, with the STEM Sisters band directed by Jenny Gould.
For ALL ages from 8+.
Streaming NOW! until 11 April.

Roadmap to Return – The Saturday Programme

Dear Parents and Guardians,


Unfortunately in accordance with the recent government guidance, we’re not able to return in person this term.


This is however set to change on 12 April meaning we are expecting to be in person at Bridge Academy, for the summer term starting on 24 April. Music Treehouse will return on 1 May.


If you wish to read the government guidance in detail, please see the two links below:




Best wishes
The HMDT Music Team