Musical talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t: family finances and other obstacles too often get in the way. We're here to change this is two key ways. We:

  • Support young musicians from low income families: with funding and other help
  • Support music education: through training, advocacy and research.

This combination creates real impact: we’d love to tell you more…


For over 20 years, we’ve supported talented young people from low income families, helping them to overcome financial and social obstacles. Whatever the genre our strategically targeted programmes help young musicians from across the UK to grow, flourish and fulfil their musical potential. We provide direct, sustained support - both funding and beyond - for individual young musicians, as well as targeted interventions to improve the broader music education environment.

Annual Awards

Through the Awards Programme, we support young instrumentalists, songwriters, composers and producers, with funding and other help to develop their musical potential. Awards range from £100 - £2,000 and funding is very flexible. We relaunched the programme in 2021. Applications can now be made on a rolling basis via our application website

A look back at 2021


Furthering Talent

Furthering Talent is designed to help musical young people from low income families from the moment the first sparks of potential appear. We support their instrumental learning far beyond initial state-funded lessons, so they can keep on playing music well into their teens and beyond. In addition to funding instrumental learning, we offer a holistic programme of support which includes an Individual Learning Plan, access to a wide range of musical experiences, and a dedicated Local Coordinator in each area. 

We’re now delivering our Furthering Talent programme in partnership with fourteen Music Education Hubs across England. The programme identifies and supports talented young musicians who, without our intervention, would not otherwise be able to access music education. Over the past 12 months the continued success of the programme, including its ability to influence real change across the sector has helped to further enhance its strong reputation.

Hear from Kwasi, from Manchester, who has taken part in Furthering Talent.

Full details

A look back at 2021

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Our Music Education Hub Partnerships in 2021

Furthering Talent map 2020

Identifying Talent

Identifying Talent addresses a key barrier to talented young people’s musical progress: some teachers’ limited experience of how to identify their musical potential. Using face-to-face training and online film resources, we’ve so far worked with 1,000 music educators, exploring the skills they need to spot the next generation of musical talent.

Hear from Tony, an instrumental teacher who's taken part in this training.

Full details

A look back at 2021

199 music leaders delivering furthering talent. 210 music leaders receiving AYM CPD. 45 music leaders forums. 10 music leaders trained to deliver AYM CPD.

Innovation and Research

I loved the group dynamic of Talent to Talent: It felt like the group was very open and very equal. We all learnt together regardless of 'role' or experience - this is very unusual in learning and I think it is a massive asset of the small, intimate group sizes created by AYM.

Everyone was engaged and welcoming! The individual activities and overarching goals of the course were great fun and felt very collaborative, and the rapport built between fellow mentors and staff through both the daytime activities, meals and overnight stay made the experience feel even more rewarding and heart-warming. I also felt as if I was able to reconnect with my own musical journey through this project: I am very grateful for this!

Alumna Mentor Ella.


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Looking back

2021 saw the delivery of the second phase of Talent to Talent, our young musician led mentoring programme, first developed in 2016/17 and funded generously once again by Arts Council England. Young people AYM supports, at different stages of their musical journeys – Alumni, Award winners and Furthering Talent participants – created brand new music together, mentoring each other in the process.

Projects were supported by expert partners in four of our partner Music Education Hubs, and AYM Patron Jess Gillam, herself a participant in the first phase, joined a session to inspire the next generation of young musicians.

Future plans 

Over the next few years we’ll be increasing ways in which the young people we work with can contribute to AYM’s development. For example we’ll progress our Young People’s Programme Panels, led by Alumni Mentors, and we’ll learn from our experience with Furthering Talent students to convene a panel for Award winners too. At Board level we’ll continue to recruit Alumni Trustees to join for a two year term: they bring invaluable experience and ideas to our strategic direction as a charity.

We’ve also got a brand new programme in the offing that we believe will be a real gamechanger for young musicians in need of help. We’re really excited about it - more to follow soon!

Reflections on 2021

A further Covid lockdown at the start of the year was of course challenging for the young musicians we’re here to help. Despite this we did everything we could to provide support and inspiration. For example we commissioned a brand new piece of music, the wonderful Grow Wild from composers Yshani Peripanayagam and Tom Lawrence, created in collaboration with Furthering Talent students.

Our long term partnership with the BBC Symphony Orchestra continued to flourish as we co-hosted of our first online Awards Day in February. Together we also put plans in place for Exchange, a new mentoring programme, whereby their orchestral musicians mentor young people AYM supports.

We were delighted when Furthering Talent Alumnus Deschanel Gordon agreed to join us as Patron in the spring, hosting an online event with our young musicians and performing at our end of year fundraising concert too! Another phenomenal jazz musician and Patron, Shabaka Hutchings, led two sessions in the spring exploring creativity and musicianship in preparation for his new book, and Patron and stellar violinist Thomas Gould returned to run another online workshop for our most advanced violinists. The start of the 2021/22 academic year in the autumn saw cellist Gabriella Swallow speak about her fascinating musical journey at our Welcome Webinar for our new cohort of Award winners, kicking off our monthly online events programme. This is aimed at building on the interests of young people we’re supporting and events focus on a diverse range of topics from music production to careers in Western classical music.

With the easing of restrictions in the spring we were able to get Talent to Talent started once more, as outlined above, and filming also took place for an updated series of films in our Identifying Musical Talent and Potential programme. Our Attune chamber music project in partnership with the City of London Sinfonia and the Royal Academy of Music got moving again in the autumn too!

Following two online events in April and June live fundraising concerts also restarted in the autumn with young musicians supported by our Awards programme giving fantastic performances for existing and new supporters at three events in London and Edinburgh. BBC broadcaster and author, our Patron Zeb Soanes, presented our biggest event in November, and for those who couldn’t be with us in person another fabulous Patron, Ksenija Sidorova, compered our November online concert. And to top of the year we also filmed a great conversation between violinists - Patron Tasmin Little and Alumna Mathilde Milwidsky for The Strad magazine! 

New colleagues also joined our growing team in the summer: Matthew Tiller as our first Digital and Communications Co-ordinator and Cara Thompson, as our first Fundraising Assistant, recruited via the Kickstart programme. Both have already made a significant contribution to AYM and we’re delighted to have them on board. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at AYM

Awards for Young Musicians (AYM) was established to enable young people with exceptional musical potential from low income families overcome the obstacles they’re facing, so diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all our work. We believe each young person should lead their own musical journey, whatever genre of music they’re making, and we’re here to support them to reach their goals. However there’s still much more to do to ensure that the young people we’re helping, those who work with them and AYM itself, fully represent the country we live in.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan is embedded into our Business Plan and our EDI Committee of staff and Trustees meet quarterly, chaired by Trustee Beverley Mason and reporting to our wider Board annually so they can review the progress we’re making. We also report regularly on our EDI plan to major funders such as Youth Music. We’re committed to working with our many partners to tackle the systemic inequalities of opportunity across our sector, an example being our participation in the I’m In self-assessment initiative. The learning process is ongoing: it’s only together that we can effect lasting change.

Hester Cockcroft
Chief Executive

Report and Accounts

Frequently asked questions