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Profile31st August 2021

Tianna finds her voice as a Youth Leader

Ark Music launched a Youth Leadership programme aimed at NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) to train them to become music leaders. The one-year programme has 11 young people working and training in music education across our 38 schools. Tianna is a 20-year-old London-based RnB singer-songwriter. She’s one of the Youth Leaders gaining valuable experience, so let’s find out more about her. This is the latest in our #ArkPeople series. We spoke to Mikey, another one of our Youth Leaders and you can read about him here.

Tell us a bit about you and trying to get into the music industry

I’ve always been into music, and I went to a school that specialised in performing arts. It was very academic, and I wasn’t interested in studying music; I wanted to create music!

I’m working on my EP and recently released a song called Drunk Stupidity. With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, I’m also hoping to do more live shows. Trying to break into the industry is hard financially and timewise because I’m still up and coming. It can also be a struggle to find people who actually want to support and invest in you.

How did the pandemic affect you and your creativity?

The first lockdown in March 2020 was different to January 2021 as everyone was stuck last year. I don’t think we knew what to do to keep going, especially creatively. Last year, shows were picking up, then lockdown came, and if I’m honest, there’s probably a lot more I should’ve done to progress.

This time around, I pushed myself to stay on my creative path more, so I watched more online gigs, did more writing, and looked at techniques that I could try. I started a mentorship with the BBC, which has helped me network and contact people who can offer advice on releasing my music. I signed up with a creative company called Young Creators UK, and of course, I applied and got a creative job as a Youth Leader!!

What made you want to apply to be a Youth Leader?

I was looking for work within the industry but hadn’t thought about a youth leadership role. I heard about the programme through a course I was doing at The Grit School. It sounded interesting, so I sent an email asking to find out more. I took part in an online group session, which gave us some insight into the types of things we’d be doing. I had an individual meeting with Carys (Ark’s Music Programme Manager), and I was offered a position.

Tell us about your experience so far?

My placement is at King Solomon Academy, and I support the song-writing unit, which I enjoy. I’ve participated in workshops like the Easter Camp, working with Years 3 to 5 and other Youth Leaders.

When I started, everything was online, but as things eased, it’s been nice going into schools and engaging with children in person.

I also worked on the DJ and Electronic Music workshop for the Summer Sounds Festival. It was a collaborative process, and I could add my ideas and lead on specific activities that interested me. I also helped to host the Summer Sounds Virtual party, which went well.

How is the programme helping you to develop your non-creative skills?

I’m learning a lot about invoices and processes! I’m managing my time and look at my diary every day. I’m enhancing my communication skills and getting to know the Youth Leaders at our monthly catchups. It’s testing my memory, it’s pushing me, it’s challenging, but I like it.

What’s been the most challenging?

I can get nervous leading workshops, but there have been no mishaps, and I’m learning so much from the Music team. They’re so experienced, and if I’ve been stuck, it’s OK because there’s no wrong answer. We’ve always found a way to resolve things.

What are your plans after the programme?

I hope to stay in contact with Ark and support more workshops. I want to increase my music portfolio and continue on my creative journey. The music industry is competitive, so being on a programme like this will give me a helping hand. You can’t stay in one lane; you need multiple skills so you can explore different paths. It’s not only about having an advantage, but I’m also doing things that I enjoy, and hopefully, that takes me further.

Any advice for future Youth Leaders?

I’m getting a lot of support from people, so for anyone thinking about being on a future programme, do it! It’s a great experience going into different schools. I’m also meeting loads of creatives that work within the industry and in the schools.

I’m learning how to run workshops, be an effective leader and work with young people. We also get the opportunity to connect with other partners; you get a safeguarding certificate, we’re DBS checked, which can help in different roles, and we get paid! I feel like I’m in a really good place right now. I was still finding myself as an artist when I started the programme, but now I know my sound and my voice!

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Ark’s Music team is committed to making music accessible to everyone and works with partners to make this possible. If you’re interested in supporting the programme, please get in touch with