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Caravan of Sound: mobile music studio hits the road

3 July 2023

Bop along to sweet beats as a new music studio on wheels pops up at local public housing estates in North Melbourne and Kensington, and beyond.

We supported The Drum to fit-out a caravan with DJ decks and other musical equipment to engage and empower young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Akolda Bil, a seasoned songwriter and former refugee from South Sudan, is the Youth Peer Leader (and head roadie) leading the Caravan of Sound.

“I’m excited to get out into the community and involve more young people in music and songwriting,” Akolda said.

“For people with social anxieties or other issues that prevent them from travelling far from home, we can create a safe environment by bringing the caravan right to their door.

“Working with people one-on-one, pretty much in their own backyard, can be so beneficial. If you can’t come to the music, we’ll bring the music to you.”

A young person using a large audio mixer.

The Drum – an initiative of Drummond Street Services – is funded by the City of Melbourne to provide inclusive, personalised support for young people who live, play, study and work in our city.

The non-profit’s packed program includes emotional support groups, study and career guidance, inclusive sport and school holiday activities. The young people also make a podcast about activism and identity called The Labeller.

Helen Rimington, General Manager of Families, Youth and Communities at Drummond Street Services, said the Caravan of Sound will help satisfy a common passion among their program participants.

“So many of the young people who come along to our programs love music. No matter what age they are, they love playing and exploring music and performance,” Helen said.

“It’s great to see nine-year-olds rocking out – they’re the best dancers you’ve ever seen, with voices like angels. The whole experience is so healing and inclusive. They just love it.

“We’ve had a tiny little recording studio in North Melbourne for some time, but the Caravan of Sound will allow us to take the show on the road and make a deeper impact.”

The Caravan of Sound builds upon one of The Drum’s existing programs, called Real Youth Music Studios. Based in Collingwood, this program enables young people to write, record and perform their own music.

“We felt we needed something mobile that we could use to visit public housing estates and schools, where we could work in small groups with students who feel disengaged,” Helen said.

“We found a caravan we can crank up with a little wheel – it’s a bit like a food van with no sides. So people can hang around with microphones singing as well as using the mixing desk inside.”

In fine weather, expect to see the Caravan of Sound on the grass in the sunshine. If there’s rain, the team has identified plenty of spots under shelter and in car parks, where they can connect to power.

“We designed the fit-out to include the features that young people told us they want, and the City of Melbourne helped us find a secure place to keep the caravan – it’s been a team effort,” Helen said.

“To start with, we won’t be focusing on recording – just exploring and enjoying music. There’ll be sessions for primary school students, girls, older young men, people with disabilities and particular families.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come and have a chat with our youth workers and play with instruments. It’s all about encouraging people to get out of the house, connect in real life and start creating.”

Support for the Caravan of Sound program has come from various sources, including the City of Melbourne, the Victorian Government’s Paving the Way Forward Program, the Department of Health and Sony.

The Drum is seeking partnerships with local businesses to support the Caravan of Sound on its onward journey. Please reach out if you’d like to lend your support.

Six more activities for young people in Melbourne

We support children and young people through arts, recreation and community programs year-round, including funding partner organisations to deliver exceptional activities. Here are some more ways to engage:

1. Career and personal support

Get help with job applications, study enrolment, career planning, leadership skills, family challenges, mental health and more. The Drum offers tailored support for your journey.

2. Adventure play

Come and play at The Venny! Located in JJ Holland Park in Kensington, this adventure playground is a supervised ‘backyard’ and safe-haven for at-risk 5 to 15-year-olds.

2. LGBTQIA+ communities

Queerspace Youth and (in)visible are two dedicated programs run by The Drum to connect and inspire queer and trans young people. Search for the groups on social media or visit thedrum.ds.org.au

3. Skateboarding

Learn to skate with free equipment and coaching at JJ Holland Park in Kensington. The All Aboard program is about community engagement, skills development and spreading joy.

4. Safe, inclusive spaces to grow

Enjoy sport, fun and friendship at the Young Men’s or Underground Women’s programs at Carlton Baths and North Melbourne Community Centre.

5. Carlton Scouts

Be prepared for adventure with Scouts Victoria! More than one billion young people have been scouts, and memberships are subsidised for young people who couldn’t otherwise afford to take part.

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