Musical talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t: family finances and other obstacles too often get in the way. We're here to change this is two key ways. We:

  • Support young musicians from low income families: with funding and other help
  • Support music education: through training, advocacy and research.

This combination creates real impact: we’d love to tell you more…


For over 20 years, we’ve supported talented young people from low income families, helping them to overcome financial and social obstacles. Whatever the genre our strategically targeted programmes help young musicians from across the UK to grow, flourish and fulfil their musical potential. We provide direct, sustained support - both funding and beyond - for individual young musicians, as well as targeted interventions to improve the broader music education environment.

Annual Awards


A look back at 2022


Through the Awards Programme, we support young instrumentalists, songwriters, composers and producers, with funding and other help to develop their musical potential. Awards range from £100 - £2,000 and funding is very flexible. Applications can now be made on a rolling basis via our application website.


Furthering Talent


A look back at 2022

Furthering Talent

Furthering Talent is designed to help musical young people from low income families from the moment the first sparks of potential appear. We support their instrumental learning far beyond initial state-funded lessons, so they can keep on playing music well into their teens and beyond. In addition to funding instrumental learning, we offer a holistic programme of support which includes an Individual Learning Plan, access to a wide range of musical experiences, and a dedicated Local Coordinator in each area.

First piloted in 2009, the largest phase yet of Furthering Talent, a £3 million programme across 2018 to 2023, continued to receive support for the fourth year from Youth Music’s top-tier funding stream, Fund C, along with AYM, Music Hubs and other Trusts and Foundations. Thanks to the team’s hard work in reaching them the programme is supporting an increasingly diverse group of young people: this includes 75 children for whom English is an additional language, 18 looked after children and 4 who are refugees. 73 children have special educational needs. The cohort also includes 15 different ethnicities with 36% children from the Global Majority.

Hear from Kwasi, from Manchester, who has taken part in Furthering Talent.

Our Music Education Hub Partnerships in 2022


Identifying Talent

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A look back at 2022

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Identifying Talent addresses a key barrier to talented young people’s musical progress: some teachers’ limited experience of how to identify their musical potential. Using face-to-face training and online film resources, we’ve so far worked with 1,000 music educators, exploring the skills they need to spot the next generation of musical talent.

The programme has continuously evolved through an iterative learning process. With Arts Council England (ACE) funding we expanded the programme further across England during 2022, aiming to reach a further 45 Hubs and over 1,000 more music leaders by March 2023, whether class teachers in primary or secondary or instrumental teachers in Hubs. Teachers gain both specific skills to spot musical potential as well as broader learning to support their wider work as teachers more generally. We also expanded delivery capacity by recruiting 10 new Associate Facilitators to co-deliver the programme across the country. Nearly 70% of respondents to our evaluation will change the way they work with their students in groups following the training. You can learn more about the impact of the programme from Helen Mead, one of the Associate Facilitators, in this short film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snc8u0CgHAc

Hear from Tony, an instrumental teacher who's taken part in this training.

Innovation and Research

We use our independent role in music education to lead new thinking and action on talent development. Our Musical Progressions Roundtables (MPR) have led to a significant shift in how progression is viewed across the sector. One of the key findings of the MPR was the need to enable young people to lead their own musical journeys.

Talent to Talent

We created Talent to Talent, a new programme, which puts young people at the centre of their musical learning though peer-to-peer mentoring to address this finding. Having run two phases of the programme in 2016/17 and across 2021, we were delighted to launch a new set of film resources on June 2022, available to view on our website, which we’re sharing widely across music education: Click hereto watch the films.

AYM/BBC Symphony Orchestra Exchange

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In February 2022 we began piloting our Exchange programme in partnership with the BBCSO. Five Award Winners (see Awards programme below) and five Furthering Talent students were mentored throughout 2022 by BBCSO musicians. This exciting project, built on a longstanding relationship, provides a mutual exchange of skills, ideas and experiences between musicians at very different stages of their musical journeys.

Meeting initially in February at Maida Vale Studios, mentoring continued online and in person throughout the year, with mentees seeing their mentors perform at the Proms: www.youngsounds.org.uk/aym-goes-to-the-proms

10 year old Reuben, a Furthering Talent pupil from Leicestershire was mentored by Peter Mallinson (both pictured below). He also saw Peter perform with the BBCSO and met him for an in-person masterclass at the Proms in July.

Reflections on 2022

2022 was a significant year for AYM. Our role as a leader in music education, supporting musically talented young people from low-income families, was recognised in a number of ways:

  • AYM’s approach was cited as important to learn from in the new National Plan for Music Education in June.
  • We were invited to apply to Youth Music’s new Catalyser Fund which will be the foundation for the next phase of Furthering Talent from April 2023. In October we were delighted to hear that Youth Music had renewed their funding, enabling us to re-shape the model from 14 Hub partners to 20. We will continue directly supporting around 600 young people via the full programme model in 10 of these Hubs with the other 10 Hubs (who will join us in 2024) also seeing a part time Connector (a development of the Local Co-ordinator role) to identify and connect young people in need to a range of information, opportunities and funding. They will also host Teachers’ Forums in each region.
  • Furthering Talent was shortlisted for Outstanding Musical Initiative at the Music & Drama Education Awards.
  • We were also shortlisted for the 2023 Royal Philharmonic Society Impact Award.
  • Our Radio 4 Appeal, presented by saxophonist and AYM Alumna and Patron Jess Gillam, featured the story of Aaliyah, a 13 year old clarinettist who is on the Furthering Talent programme in Hull. It raised over £50,000 and widened our supporter base.
  • In November, we were successful in our application to join Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2023/24 to 2025/26, cementing our status as a key player in creating a more inclusive and diverse music sector.
  • Even more recently, in March 2023, we were granted National Youth Music Organisation status.
  • Most importantly, we continued to directly support over 850 young musicians across our programmes.

None of this success would be possible without the strategic leadership of AYM’s brilliant Chief Executive, Hester Cockcroft and the fantastic work of the entire staff team. On behalf of the Board of Trustees I’d like to thank them for all that they do.

Philip Jones
Chair of Trustees

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at AYM

Awards for Young Musicians (AYM) was established to enable young people with musical potential from low income families to overcome the obstacles they’re facing, so diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all our work. We believe each young person should lead their own musical journey, whatever genre of music they’re making, and we’re here to support them to reach their goals. However there’s still much more to do to ensure that the young people we’re helping, those who work with them and AYM itself, fully represent the country we live in.

Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan is embedded into our Business Plan and our EDI Committee of staff and Trustees meet quarterly, chaired by Trustee Beverley Mason and reporting to our wider Board so they can review the progress we’re making. We also report regularly on our EDI plan to major funders such as Arts Council England and Youth Music. We’re committed to working with our many partners to tackle the systemic inequalities of opportunity across our sector. The learning process is ongoing: it’s only together that we can effect lasting change.

Hester Cockcroft
Chief Executive

Report and Accounts

Frequently asked questions