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The Upstartz

The Upstartz

Skimstone Arts’ have been commissioned by St Anthonys’ Day Services on a 3 x year project.

Inspired by the garden project at St Anthony’s, sessions initially focused on creating songs about the importance of our living planet and how we need to care for our trees, flowers and the natural world. This sense of social activism helped to create a series of songs, with original lyrics, that we were all proud of. We crafted lyrics that: expressed what we wanted to say about the world; promoted individual and collective voices within the group; provided a focus for each session; introduced skills in vocal training, lyric writing, percussion, song structure and production, performance.

A public performance of this collective of 5 x songs was performed at Conaty Awards to an audience of 120 people in December 2023.

We now have a band called The Upstartz that are rehearsing their songs ready to record at Blank Studios in May 2024

Together with the support of all the staff we've observed;

People’s regular attendance at every session – from 14 – 18 people every week with new people attending and being welcomed into the band.

Willingness to actively participate e.g in the physical and vocal warm ups at the start of each session, lyric writing, percussion and singing elements and the end of session feedback and the public performance.

“I think it’s good that everybody joins in. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you cannot sing or you can sing, or you can play an instrument or you can’t, you can still join in and it’s good. It’s quite relaxing as well.” Linda

Warms ups – physical and vocal e.g Being familiar with a routine that keeps us fit and enables us to care for our bodies, brain and voice

Increase in self confidence, self esteem and resilience  e.g L used to sit at the back but now sits at the front and is a lead singer. J attends even when feeling down or depressed. 

“I am me!” Catherine.  “ Beforehand, I wouldn’t have done anything like this.” Linda

Working together as a whole band. This identity means that there is a collective ownership of the songs created and where people feel we can craft, edit, change and adapt the songs to make them ‘ the very best’. 

“I think it’s original” Jill  

“I think they’ve got incredible team work” staff comment by Sherry

 “I was quite impressed with the way we were improving.” Sheila

Extending musical abilities e.g. recognising Tango, Ska, Reggae as musical forms and singing in two part harmony

 “ I like the idea of bringing in different styles of music” Jan

“ It’s just a proper mixture, different things each week. Each weeks different and not the same as the week before. It makes it more enjoyable.” “I like the rock and roll and the waltz!” Jill

 • Lyric writing e.g exploring language to convey ideas, form, rhythm etc

“It’s really good to see how it (songwriting) all comes together” Jan

Staff support – band feel at one of the room, working to a practice schedule for the public performance and the recording at Blank Studios.


Events – Conaty Awards – visibility and collective pride . This event was a very storng platform for the group to show their work to the community and for their skills, creativity and talents to be recognised. Linda introduced each song when performing  at the Conaty Awards.  

“I think it went well. After last week I just felt, go for it ,you can do it! That dragon on my shoulder’s gone now.” Jan

“Everyone was fantastic because they all joined in!” Catherine

“People thought our songs were very good.” Kathleen

“Great.. exciting.”.(to perform our songs tonight) Ken

Their songs were also presented by Skimstone musicians at Ouseburn Fesival and Memory Studies Conference.


Community and Shared Humour – people often comment on everyone being together. Shared humour demonstrates friendships and how we are all a social group with new connections and networks eg Sean wanting to have the royalties for the songs and our performances !! 

“ When you’re singing with quite a lot of others and you’re guitar playing, your voice can get in amongst them and hide.” Sheila .. with laughter

“Everyone’s been brought together” Michael 

 “Friendship and companionship.” Jill

“Everybody has been lovely” Pat

“Great….It’s always great – every day.” Pam


Audience feedback

“It was the way you coordinated and helped them to produce what they did. To achieve that level of performance you held them together but you didn’t take away from what they did, that it was their production.”

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