Youth Music Conference: Unboxing Diversity.


If you’ve attended a talk presented by Drake Music in the last couple of years, you’ve quite likely heard of Youth Music.

Investing in music-making projects with a strong social impact for children and young people, Youth Music funds many organisations that deliver much needed music projects. Currently Youth Music funds think2020, a three-year Drake Music initiative. Think2020 is a project with three key drives:

1. Workforce Development. Supporting both Drake Music’s own staff, but also offering external training to help organisations deliver better SEN/D provisions.

2. Practice & Delivery. Delivering SEN/D music education workshops and tools, and making a real world difference to young people through music-making.

3. Advocacy. Championing disabled practitioners and offering training on and amplifying discussion about Disability Equality.

Last week Carien Meijer (DM’s Chief Exec) and I attended Youth Music’s Fund C Conference. We were invited to deliver a provocation on diversity. It almost goes without saying, but that is a HUGE ask!

Carien and I got together on Skype to discuss what we knew was going to be a HUGE discussion. We covered a great deal of angles (more on that in a moment) and we got really deep into some big issues. 90 minutes later, with our heads full of ideas, we separately organised our notes, which I would then assemble into a mind map.

Mind mapping to provoke discussion on diversity

Mind maps are one of my favourite productivity tools; I love the elegant simplicity of visualising non-linear thinking. I took some convincing, however; I was introduced to the work of Tony Buzan as a teenager, but at first I thought it was messy and distracting. Once I got my head around it, it was revolutionary. We don’t think in neat lists, ideas fly off in different directions; concepts that may seem unconnected reveal hidden relationships. It’s a wonderful tool to more closely reflect how our ideas form.

We discussed using it as a visual tool to provoke discussion in the session, and I thought it would be good to keep the mind map editable and on the big screen, so the group’s points could be added ‘live’.

This effectively gave our initial conversation continuation in the group setting, an idea that really excited both Carien and I. The discussion went really well, and we got into some really interesting areas of discussion which were added to the mindmap.

I’d like to open that discussion even further, so we thought it would be really useful to make our mind map available for readers of this blog, so here it is:

please click on the image to enlarge

Of course, that got me thinking about opening that continuation we had in the session on Wednesday right here on this blog. I’d like to see if this discussion can expand further, through the reader of this blog. To that end, I’m making an editable version of the mind map available to download, with view to be expanded upon further by you, the reader.

Get involved… here’s how!

The document was created in an application called XMind. It’s a really popular and powerful mindmapping app, available for Windows, Mac and Linux (Yay Linux!). Most usefully for this experiment, it’s free – or at least there is a very useable free version.

If you’re not already using it, head to to get started.

Next, download the original source file of our mind map via the dropbox link below (you shouldn’t need a dropbox account to do this):

Now the interesting bit… Add your thoughts to the mindmap!

You can click on any of the existing thoughts and hit the TAB key to add another branch. Just hit enter after you’ve added a ‘thought’ if you want to add another ‘sibling’ (rather than ’child’) idea – hopefully that will make perfect sense with the application open in front of you!

We genuinely would like to hear your thoughts, so if you’re happy to do so, please email your mindmaps to I’d love for this mind map to keep on growing, for us to find the roots and refine the branches of discussion.

Final Thought

One final thought, which we were keen to get across at the conference; neither Carien nor I consider ourselves to be experts on diversity, and my being disabled doesn’t make me an expert on Disability Equality. For both personal and professional reasons, both Carien and I care very deeply about matters of diversity and equality, and it’s that desire for change that we’re bringing to the table.

We may have overlooked something in this discussion that you find startlingly obvious. We may have offered something you passionately disagree with. That’s all good. This is a young discussion, and one we’re all hoping to learn from. Please join the conversation, and hopefully we can learn some things about diversity from each other.