Interview with Angus Cheney, percussionist

Angus was a former Leicester-Shire Schools Music Service (LSMS) ensemble member, and now works with the service as a Youth Activist to help improve the opportunities for other young people.

Interview with Angus Cheney, percussionist

Hi there!  Could you first introduce yourself for the reader? What is your role with LSMS?

Hi! I’m Angus, I am a Percussionist and I started playing music with the music service around the age of 8 and participated in a wide range of ensembles, performances throughout my childhood, culminating in two performances at the Royal Albert Hall. After officially leaving the service in 2018, I have given some of my time to helping the younger ensembles in their percussion sectionals along with various other bits and pieces of part time work where needed. I have been a Youth Activist for around a year now and this involves attending meetings, helping organise events and planning future events!

Why did you get involved with LSMS?

Having already been part of the music service for 10+ years, it was second nature to take the opportunity of being an LSMS Youth Activist. It will give me useful skills in the arts industry and improve my soft skills through a range of activities working with young people and staff within the music service. 

What made you want to get involved in informing & influencing the work of LSMS?

Having had such a great experience as a student, I am keen for students now to have as good an experience if not better than I did with the music service. As a student, I would have loved the possibility of organising an event (with help in certain areas) for young people and I am certain that the students currently involved in the music service will love it.

What activities have helped you to have a voice in the work of LSMS?

Having been a part of the organisation for quite a few years, I already had a good understanding of how LSMS functions which enabled me to give suggestions on where and how young people could get involved. My experience from working with other arts organisations, both those focussed on young people and the public, demonstrated that social media is the key to reaching young people today. LSMS has started adopting Instagram as a platform to share information about how to get involved and the events that are happening.

Could you give an example of a recent project you have helped run, and the impact it had?

Helping to organise the first LSMS online music festival was the first activity I was involved with from start to finish but this has given me the understanding I need to start coordinating young people when organising events. Due to Covid-19, no ensembles were able to rehearse or perform during the summer term, instead, the conductors put together videos of the ensembles and young people across Leicestershire were encouraged to send in videos of them performing to be part of this online event. The feedback showed that the parents were very grateful that their children still had the opportunity to perform despite the adverse conditions of a global pandemic!

Why was it important for you to be involved in the project and what impact did you have on the success of the project?

For me, the online music festival was a way to allow the young people of Leicestershire to perform virtually where they would not have been able to otherwise. I helped make creative and organisation decisions and consulted on the best ways to reach young people with a group of Youth Ambassadors, which is a programme that LSMS is continuing into the 2020/2021 academic year.

Has being involved in influencing LSMS activity given you any skills you will use elsewhere in life?

Of course! There are many skills that I have picked up as part of being involved in the music service, including organisation, responsibility, and communication. Possibly the most important skill I have learnt as a Youth Activist (and one that you can’t learn on your own) has been teamwork; it would not have been possible for any individual to organise and run the whole event. 

Was the training day you were involved in with Upstart Projects insightful or useful to supporting your involvement? What did you gain from the day?

The training day provided a great deal of insight into the current trends of youth voice and how other areas and institutions are engaging their young people to create events etc. It was useful for me as a youth activist to gain an understanding of how other young people are working in their roles.


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