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 barriers. Whatever the genre, whatever the style, our strategically targeted programmes help young musicians from across the UK to grow, flourish and fulfil their musical potential. We provide both direct, sustained support - beyond funding - for individual young musicians, as well as targeted interventions to improve the broader music education environment.

Annual Awards

Our annual Awards programme offers up to £100,000 in means-tested grants for individual young musicians each year, helping them grow and develop their musical potential. From 2021 applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with Awards made twice a year.

2020 was our 22nd Awards year and we saw more applications that ever before.

Read more about our 2020 Award winners

A look back at 2020

2020 round up infographics

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.

We’re now delivering our Furthering Talent programme in partnership with fifteen 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

AYM is a founding member of the Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England.

A look back at 2020

2020 round up infographics (1)

Our Music Education Hub Partnerships

Furthering Talent map 2020 (2)

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 2020

2020 CPD infographic

Innovation and Research

Through pioneering programmes like the Musical Progressions Roundtable, our Talent to Talent mentoring programme and Practical Progression we continue to seek new ways to make a difference to the musical futures of talented young people.

Hear from Mahaliah Edwards who, as an Alumna of Awards Programme, took part in Talent to Talent as a musical mentor. We’re now delighted that she’s joined AYM’s Board as an Alumni Trustee


Full details

Looking back

In autumn 2019 AYM was awarded a substantial Project Grant from Arts Council England to launch the second phase of Talent to Talent, our young musician led mentoring programme, first developed in 2016/17. Talented young people AYM supports, at different stages of their musical journeys – Alumni, Award winners and Furthering Talent participants – mentor each other. 

Projects will be supported by expert partners in four of our partner Music Education Hubs, and AYM Patron Jess Gillam, herself a participant in the first phase, will be returning to inspire the next generation of young musicians. We were also delighted to welcome Naomi Wellings to AYM as Mentoring Manager to run the programme last autumn. Unfortunately Covid-19 has meant that we had to postpone the project during 2020, as we felt the mentoring needed to take place in person rather than online. We’re hoping to restart delivery in early 2021, subject to restrictions. Fingers crossed! 

Future plans 

Over the next few years we will be increasing ways in which the young people we work with can contribute to AYM’s development. Building on the recruitment of Alumni Trustees to the Board, we will be inviting our current Furthering Talent and Awards programme participants to get much more involved too, working with older Alumni Mentors to discuss how we can continue to innovate so we can better meet young musicians’ needs and aspirations.  

Reflections on 2020

Like all organisations the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has presented some challenges for AYM, although having never had an office since our founding in 1998 the impact on team operations has been less pronounced than for many organisationsAlthough clearly there’s no substitute for live music making we’ve been able to work with our partners to take the vast majority of our programme delivery online, whether instrumental tuition, webinars and workshops or teachers’ professional development. Uptake has also been very good, thanks to the bespoke support we give to individual young people across our programmes.  

We’ve also been able to proceed with some exciting new initiatives in 2020 including the brand new Online Individual Learning PlanEarlier this year, thanks to funding from a major foundation and Youth Music we launched our partnership with Charanga, an award-winning platform housing a wealth of interactive music education resources for young people. Together we’re creating an online version of Furthering Talent’s Individual Learning Plan, giving young musicians the tools to be able to shape their own musical journeys and enrich their learning. We’ll work closely with Charanga and our other partners to find the young people who could benefit most. We’re expecting to engage with thousands of schools, young people and teachers by 2023. The teachers already using the ILP in Furthering Talent are already seeing the benefits, so it will be great to share this approach with many more: 

"ILPs have made such an impact on my Furthering Talent pupil that I have decided to use them for all of my students this year. I know that by putting my pupils' interests and desires at the heart of learning we are likely to make even more progress, and I can easily differentiate my teaching to represent a diverse range of needs and aspirations."  Dawn Allenby, Furthering Talent Music Leader, Sheffield 

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 barriers 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 Equalities and Diversity Action Plan is embedded into our Business Plan and our Trustees review the progress we’re making against its objectives on an annual basis e.g. monitoring the ethnicity, gender etc. of the young people we’re working with. We also report regularly on progress 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