Community Musician
Sage Gateshead

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Wendy B

00:00:012 My name’s Wendy B and I play the steelpans but I’m a project leader at the Sage, Gateshead. I work as a community musician. I’ve been teaching young people to play pans from scratch, taking them to compete in Notting Hill Carnival every summer. I take them to Trinidad to compete and we go all over the place.

00:00:28 I wanted to learn this instrument because I’d seen some bands on Blue Peter when I was a kid, but I never really thought living in Newcastle I’d ever get the chance to do it. I heard about a group that was happening when I was 16. I persuaded a friend to go along with me just to check it out and then I never quit. All the bands I’d seen playing looked like they were having a ball. It looked like the most fun thing you could ever do and it looked really intriguing. Like I was really curious about how the instrument was set out and it just looked really exciting, and when I started playing, I wasn’t disappointed.

00:01:05 I had got a bit of a background in music. I was doing music as a hobby. Like my mum and dad were quite supportive. They encouraged me when I was younger. We had a piano in the house, I went along to lessons from being quite small and I was playing the saxophone and other things. But all the other instruments I was playing, they just got left by the wayside and just focused on the steelpan from then on.

00:01:29 Because I was quite good at school, I was…I got good grades and stuff, I think myself and my mum and dad always assumed I would go and do a conventional career in a conventional career path. My mum and dad are both nurses, they’ve had very conventional careers and I think they were frightened of the idea of maybe being freelance or not having a path set out for you. There was initial resistance when I was actually at university for a few years, but I wasn’t enjoying it and I quit and that was a massive disappointment to my parents. But shortly after that, when they saw what I was doing professionally with the steelpan, they’re now…there had been opportunities for me since then to go back to university and they’ve been quite against it because they’re really happy with what I’m doing.

00:02:16 I started working with the steelpans gradually. It wasn’t like one day all of a sudden I was presented with a lot of work. I started leading a few sessions when some of the tutors weren’t available and they went well and then I was offered more work and then you gradually build up your reputation and then you get offered more and more work.

00:02:37 Tons of people have inspired me like teachers that I’ve worked alongside or who have taught me when I was a young person. Other community musicians who have much more experience than me. You see someone doing something and like leading a session and they’re really charismatic and they’re doing it really well and you just think like, ‘how have they got the confidence to get up and do that?’ And I think that’s good because then you kind of try and pick it to pieces what they’re doing and then you try and emulate that. 00:0:10 I wasted some time going…I felt pressured to go to university and I didn’t really want to do it and I wasted two years doing that and I regret that. You have to be happy in the decisions that you make regardless of what you do and don’t let parental pressure or pressure from teachers at school put you in a direction that you really think that you don’t want to go in.

00:03:31 Alongside teaching steelpan and playing steelpan and competing and doing all that stuff, I’m being trained to do other things to make me a more well-rounded practicioner if you like. So I’m being trained to mentor, being trained to work with young people on youth leadership projects and other things. So I think that as long as I stop thinking, ‘oh, I know’. It’s dangerous if you think, oh, you know everything and you’re just happy with where you are. You’ve got to keep moving forward and keep learning new things. ENDS


Wendy is a Project Leader at the Sage in Gateshead. She dropped out of university to play the steelpans. She says, “You have to be happy in the decisions that you make regardless of what you do and don’t let parental pressure or pressure from teachers at school put you in a direction that you really think that you don’t want to go in.”

More information about Youth and community workers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

25%  male 
75%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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Future employment?

? Youth and community workers provide support to individuals or groups of individuals through a range of activities or services that aim to encourage participation in social and community life and promote personal and social development.
There are no formal academic entry requirements though a minimum age for appointment between 18 and 21 normally applies. Most qualified youth workers possess an accredited diploma in higher education or postgraduate diploma in youth and community work. A majority of qualifying courses are for people aged over 21 years of age. Background checks including a CRB check are likely to be required.
  • Organises social, recreational and educational activities in local community and youth groups;
  • Undertakes the day-to-day running of community centres and supervises the activities of part-time and voluntary workers;
  • Liaises and supports voluntary workers running groups in village halls, churches, mosques and other places of worship;
  • Advises individuals with particular needs or problems through informal discussion, individual counselling or formal group discussion;
  • Helps set up credit unions, encourages parents to establish playgroups, works with other groups to find solutions to shared concerns or problems.
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