Hip Hop workshops aim to help troubled teens

Zak Sulaiman-Watt, Magnus Turpie, Dylan Browne and Martin Hughes are some of the youngsters who take part in Saturday afternoon music sessions at the South Bridge Resource Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow
Zak Sulaiman-Watt, Magnus Turpie, Dylan Browne and Martin Hughes are some of the youngsters who take part in Saturday afternoon music sessions at the South Bridge Resource Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A MUSIC project is helping troubled youngsters turn their lives around by giving them the chance to express themselves.

Totally Sound, based at the South Bridge Resource Centre on Infirmary Street, offers workshops across genres including hip hop, rock and drum and bass.

Youth worker Rolain Bradbeer believes the sessions steer youngsters away from antisocial behaviour by boosting confidence and providing an outlet.

The 36-year-old musician, who runs lyric-writing sessions, said: “It gives them an environment where they can express themselves safely, explore their feelings and learn new skills.

“Lyric-writing is helping them talk about stuff they generally wouldn’t be able to express in public with friends.

“There is a real community feel and everyone is accepted. They get to network and work with musicians and get their voice heard.”

Rolain Bradbeer performs under the name  Conscious Route

Rolain Bradbeer performs under the name Conscious Route

He added: “It’s difficult for them. Some have parents with drug or alcohol dependency or mental health issues and are being looked after by grandparents because their parents are not well enough to support them.”

The sessions have a £2 admission charge, and are aimed at youngsters between the ages of 12 and 19.

Rolain – who performs under the name Conscious Route – has been an MC and rapper for more than 20 years but started working with troubled youngsters in 2007.

A trained counsellor and psychotherapist, he believes he is able to connect with them because of his own experiences growing up.

He said: “Coming from a troubled background, I recognise the issues that young people from poor or damaged homes have.

“I struggled a lot as a young person after having a lot early trauma in my life.

“I was adopted and grew up in a small town where I was the only black kid.

“There was a lot of bullying. I started to go off the rails and music was the only thing that kept me grounded. I was dyslexic and school wasn’t strong for me but music was the thing that got me back into education. Music has been an incredibly positive force in my life and it is for these kids too.”

The organisation is run with the Canongate Youth Project and was founded by Mike Fraser in 2003 to develop interpersonal skills, build confidence and nurture musical talent.

But though the project had initially been funded through South Central Neighbourhood Partnership and the city council, cutbacks have forced the group to raise is own funds.

This has included events where young people have performed to parents and guests.

Rolain works with small groups, typically about ten youngsters, with news of the sessions generally passed on by word of mouth.

But volunteers and staff at Totally Sound are keen to promote the project so they can reach even more young people.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com