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‘Future Music Makers’ – Hubs, Schools and Artists Working Together

28th March 2024

FUTURE MUSIC MAKERS was a ‘Test and Learn’ project for BACE (Bedford Arts and Cultural Education) taking place during Spring 2023. The project, developed and delivered in partnership with Bedford Music Hub and produced by Glow Training, explored how beatboxing and rap can be used to deliver the new National Plan for Music Education.

In the final of a series of three blogs exploring the development of ‘Future Music Makers’, Glow’s Sarah Golding talks to Project Creative Director Conrad Murray, Assistant Project Creative Director Paul Cree and the three local Bedford artists X-IT, Sonny Black and N8 involved in the work, exploring what they gained from the project.


X-IT, N8 and Sonny, what’s it been like joining Conrad and Paul in the ‘Future Music Makers’ school workshops?

A rapper crouched down working with a group of children. He is wearing a yellow sweatshirt and a black baseball cap, dark trousers and trainers. Children can be seen around him.

Photo credits: Helen White

X-IT: It’s been wicked – seeing these sessions and how amazing they are, and how the kids are loving it and watching and thinking ‘this is really cool’. Also being automatically accepted and being part of the team and getting involved as much as I can. I’ve learnt so much from these guys – how the sessions are set out and how the children learn from this.

N8: It’s been really eye-opening, just an amazing opportunity to be involved with. Watching Conrad and Paul work – they’re artists and they’re disciplined – well honed. For me, in terms of my learning, it’s been really good watching the workshops. There’s a good formula which applies a certain lesson plan, and everything leads to something and it works, but the children don’t necessarily believe they’re in a lesson. Which is really good because you can apply this to any form of creative discipline – it could be lyric writing, beat making, beatboxing, breakdancing.

Sonny: These guys have been absolutely brilliant with us – we were told ‘you guys can sit back and take notes’ but we all just dived in straight away. We want to learn from these experts, what they’ve done, and adapt their style, bringing our own elements into it.


What do you think it’s important to introduce music like beatboxing and rapping into schools?

N8: I feel with a lot of these things – beatboxing, rapping – there’s always a positive and negative connotation – but working in this environment it can take this music into different corridors.

Like me in school, I could learn how to play piano – I had piano lessons, didn’t like my piano teacher and I didn’t go for, like, 6 months – my Mum went nuts! If there was a beat making machine it might have been a whole different environment for me. And it’s good to see this working like that. And obviously for the kids we can see how their confidence, expression, support with their classmates – so on both sides it’s beneficial.

Paul: There’s also a lot of elements of problem-solving, so when we’re getting them to work in groups, they go away and work and then they share back to the rest of the class. The class get to give constructive feedback but we’re also guiding them to ask ‘what’s not quite working here?’ and there’s this extra layer of critical skill that’s applicable to so many other areas. It’s really good for them.


What have been some of the best elements of the project for you all?

N8: We’re all artists and we’re very good at working on our discipline, but we’re insular – how do you turn all those skills outward? This has helped me see how I can do that, how they can benefit from me and how they can be beneficial to my work.

X-IT: And I feel like now I could go and take some of these sessions and go into schools and lead some of this work. What’s been done really well is that there isn’t the message ‘just go and copy from us’. It’s about learning from the process, but you’ve got to take it and be yourself as an artist and make it your own.

A rapper wearing a black sweatshirt and baseball cap reading 'Billionaire boys club'. He is holding a microphone and is facing a young student with her back to the camera.

Photo credits: Helen White

Sonny: For me, it’s been the satisfaction of seeing the children’s faces light up, even the ones that didn’t participate firstly – slowly getting them to participate – engaging with the kids. Bedford doesn’t have many opportunities like London, Manchester. I don’t think we currently have that support unit. But this thing here is going to be absolutely crazy when we start! I can’t wait to adapt what we’ve learnt.

X-IT: Seeing some of the kid’s reactions, when Conrad said to a couple of them after the performance ‘You’re actually quite a good rapper, you have really good tone in your voice’, or, ‘that was really good beatbox’ you can see the kids go ‘really!? Oh wow,’. That was really cool!

N8: Seeing the children use the loop machine, it’s really good as it’s an engaging and an inclusive thing. You don’t need to own an instrument to be a beatboxer, you just need a voice. We’ve had students who don’t even want to speak, you just need a warm environment and by the end of the session they’re doing the best beatboxing than anyone’s done. So with the use of the equipment there’s so much scope to what you can do with this approach.

Paul: This is the first time I’ve had a solid block, we can start to get those finer tune elements with the kids – almost mastery – certain sounds you can start to get to places because they’re doing it regularly, and we’re seeing them every couple of days. And when we walk around the school they’re doing beatboxing! Quite often when we get them into groups and they start composing their own stuff, one really finds a flourish in writing lyrics and maybe they’re not even going to perform those lyrics, they’re going to hand those lyrics over to another member of their group. Perhaps they’re not the most confident performing beats. But the longer we go on, we’re really starting to see them grow. But it’s been great having the time, and the space to see that work happen.


Conrad and Paul, what’s it been like having the Bedford Artists working alongside you as part of the project?

Conrad: They’ve been good. The impact on the kids having local artists in the room has been great, it’s like magic to them.

Sonny: Because we’re from the same town, it’s inspiring to them.

Conrad: I’m excited about the prospect of these guys bringing these workshops into schools. Especially because its different to other music provision that usually offered and is more inclusive. Beatboxing can feel more modern – even though I’m just using my voice (there’s nothing more tribal and old really), and it can engage certain students that maybe wouldn’t usually be engaged. It can be a good conduit to learning more traditional music – as well as becoming a superstar beatboxer in your own right!

I think there’s something to be said for diversity, for some of the kids to see Sonny and N8 in the room, there’s a representational thing, and it would’ve been great if we had a woman as well (it was difficult – we tried).

The idea of it being cool and relevant, and having an artist – which are these mystical, magical things – from where I live, who looks like me, is such a massive deal. It’s very inspirational. I also think this programme could be imported to other places as well.

Paul: Having these guys in the room (the local artists) adds another layer of meaning to the project. They’re going to connect with the kids in a way that perhaps we can’t. And that’s kind of how it should be.

Conrad Murray is Artistic Director of the award-winning BAC Beatbox Academy and is a critically acclaimed Beatboxer, Composer, Author, Director and Artist

Paul Cree is a poet, rapper and beatboxer and co-founder of Hip Hop theatre company Beats and Elements

X-IT is a rapper from Bedford (Barz In The Car – YouTube)

N8 is a spoken word artist from Luton

Sonny Black is a rapper from Bedford. He is also co-director of Luma Sounds


Sarah Golding is Associate Producer with Glow Training, a learning and development consultancy supporting UK wide organisations to co-create arts, culture and heritage activity in partnership with their communities. Contact for more information about this project and how Glow can support beatboxing and rap in your schools.

‘Future Music Makers’ was commissioned by Bedford Arts and Cultural Education (BACE) with funding from Royal Opera House Bridge, produced by GlowTraining in partnership with Bedford Music Hub.