National Centre for Early Music

[Skip navigation]
Navigation Menu

Northern Gamelan Network







The Northern Gamelan Network is a collection of partners from across the North of England, who are committed to developing their use of Indonesian bronze percussion (known as gamelan) for the benefit of the young people with whom they work. Gamelan is known to be an excellent art form for developing ensemble skills. It offers particularly suitable opportunities for young people living in challenging circumstances - for example, those in financial hardship, those with disrupted home lives and those with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties:
  • Gamelan instruments offer a quick-access route into ensemble playing, without the need for expensive individual lessons or home-practice;
  • The sounds and the act of playing are often described as "soothing", "stress-busting" and "calming";
  • Ensemble playing (without a leader or conductor) encourages teamwork and gives players a genuine sense of contribution;
  • Its unusual nature means there are limited preconceptions about what the music is like, who it is for, and importantly who can succeed in playing;
  • Using these exquisitely hand-crafted instruments tends to fill young people with a great sense of pride.

Established as a project of the National Centre for Early Music in 2015, with support from Youth Music and IVE, the Network achieved a great deal in its first three years:
  • Reaching over 50 professional and student members from across Yorkshire & Humber, Greater Manchester, County Durham, Tyne & Wear, and Lincolnshire;
  • Convening 8 regional practice-sharing meetings, bringing together staff from Music Education Hubs, universities, local authorities, regional and national arts organisations, and freelance practitioners;
  • Curating 8 training days with leading UK-based gamelan specialists, focusing on topics spanning from traditional Javanese and Sundanese music, to contemporary composition and improvisation, with a foray into the exciting world of gamelan and tech!
  • Identifying and delivered an array of exciting partnership projects, including the collaborative COOLture Conversations  programme, as part of Hull City of Culture 2017;
  • Supporting practical music-making opportunities for over 1000 children and young people.

The Northern Gamelan Network was established by NCEM, as part of the Music4U programme, to deliver four main roles, in order to improve knowledge, skills and capacity within the region:
  1. Providing a wider support network for individuals and organisations with the potential to use gamelan in their education and outreach work - raising awareness of the art form and encouraging its use, especially with children and young people;
  2. Facilitating the sharing of knowledge and good practice and providing a forum for 'troubleshooting';
  3. Pooling resources (finances, personnel, venues, equipment) to enable appropriate CPD for music teachers and practitioners, in order to combat the current lack of local workforce experienced by many across the partnership;
  4. Identifying and pursuing opportunities for collaborative practical projects across the partnership, creating high-calibre opportunities for children and young people that would otherwise not be feasible.

The Network has left a legacy of collaborative working and is now co-ordinated by Gamelan Sekar Petak at the University of York. For more information and to join the Network, please contact emily.crossland@york.ac.uk .