“I enjoy playing guitar, and learning more on it, music makes me feel determined.”

13 year olds Harry and Sam (pictured) both love to play the guitar and are often found jamming together at the Downhill Music Project where they first began lessons. It’s based in a community centre in Sunderland and was started by Sunderland Music Hub.  

The Downhill Project is a relaxed weekly music session where young people can listen to music, sing, play, learn to DJ and write songs. We work closely with our partners in Sunderland, including schools, the Music Hub and Downhill Music Project to identify the young people who could benefit most from our help.  

David Smith and Ashleigh Lowes, from Sunderland Music Hub, spotted the boys’ potential and nominated them to join Furthering Talent. Sam says: 

 “I started playing in my bedroom, learning Smoke on the Water, on repeat.” Harry began his musical journey in a similar way. He says, “it makes me feel good to play a song on guitar, especially when I’m trying to learn a piece and I get it right.”  

Harry and Sam have made the most of the Furthering Talent experience and have attended every Get Together – musical activities ranging from beatboxing and music technology to watching musical theatre and performance opportunities. They’ve even written and recorded their own songs.  

Harry continues “Furthering Talent helps me not only with learning guitar but also in production and recording my own songs.”  

Sam’s parents are delighted that he hasn’t been overlooked for this opportunity. Not only has Sam made a lifelong friend through music, he’s also now planning his future musical career. He says: 

“I enjoy playing guitar, and learning more on it, music makes me feel determined. Furthering Talent helps me with learning guitar and eventually I’d like it to be my career.”   

It’s this determination that led both boys to progress on the first stage of The Key at Downhill. This gives young people the chance to apply to do a creative activity through a community chest fund. They pitched their ideas to a panel and won the opportunity to visit the Hard Rock Café in Newcastle.  

Making a big impact with their music is high on the agenda for Sam and Harry: they also recently had the chance to perform at Sunderland Empire. Furthering Talent continues to support both boys as they pursue their career aspirations and look for more performing and writing opportunities. Sam even wants to build his own guitar!

Furthering Talent

We’re searching for 10 new Music Hub partners to join the next phase of our Furthering Talent Connect programme in 2024! This new phase has already seen the continued development of the fantastic work we’ve done with 10 existing ‘Ambassador Hub’ partners. We’re now looking for 10 new partners to become ‘Connector Hubs’ and further expand our support for young musicians across England. Funding for this work is currently secured until the end of March 2026. 

You can also read more about the Furthering Talent programme in our 5-year review publication. You can also watch this short film about the programme which highlights some of our key learning from the most recent phase. Click the button below to find out more.

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