Raw Basics offers people referred by mental health services a weekly opportunity to develop their musical skills and abilities in structured sessions, combining music theory and practice.

This week Monday group was full to bursting with instrumentalists getting their heads around pentatonic scales in the workshop, with a special session introduced by Raw Basics member and guitarist Tony and led by Mike Strocchi. In the introduction the group listened to the use of the five note scale in classical Japanese music and how that is related over time and culture to BB King’s use of major pentatonic scales in his songs. They also watched the amazing Bobby McFerrin’s input into the ‘Notes and Neurons’ debate and the search for a common chorus.
The class continued by the practical application of pentatonics in a live playing situation -people taking turns to play drums, guitar, keys and bass, and individual musicians taking a ambitious 32 bar solo section. Altogether a great learning curve for all.
Raw Basics is supported by the People’s Health Trust Fund.


Raw Sounds was one of 24 arts organisations selected to present their work to health commissioners at the Aesop showcase at the Royal Festival Hall, making the case for investment in arts organisations working in a health context.

Raw Sounds programme managers, a participant and a health advocate spoke on the local context of our mental health programme and issues specific to South London communities, the positive impact our project makes on participants mental health and wellbeing, and benefits of the service in terms of cost and capacity saving for NHS services.

Dr David O’Flynn, Consultant Psychiatrist at Lambeth and Maudsley hospitals gave case studies of his patients’ progress through Raw Sounds, and spoke of the cost saving that attendance at our service contributes to – by supporting patients during their transition from living in hospital (at £500 per night) to living independently in the community. He advocates ‘Raw Sounds reaches the person, rather than the illness offering something that is relevant to their lives‘.

Listen to our Radio interview from 23:05 on Radio 4‘s Today programme to hear how community music saves NHS England money.


This month, Arts Professional have published a special edition focusing on mental health. Rhoda Dakar, music mentor on the Raw Sounds programme, has contributed an article about the creative therapies on offer for mental health patients, and advocates for a model which supports self expression through a humanist approach.
Read the full article here.

“When living with a mental illness, you feel your life is out of control, so any form of rigour you can establish gives the verisimilitude of the reins being back in your hands. Having a regular appointment with an opportunity to make music (your music) is hard to resist if it is an artform you love. Drinking deep from its well will not only refresh you, but also reanimate you.”


The Great Court at British Museum was full to capacity on Sunday afternoon  March 4 with the ENO, Raw Material, Brixton Youth Theatre, the Community Choir and Jugglers performance of ‘Millions of Years’. Based on the story of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, who imposed on society the radical idea of worshipping a single deity, the sun god Aten, in place of the multi deity worship of his forefathers.  Bought to life by a choir of 100, a cast of young people from Brixton, jugglers, ENO musicians and countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo, musical director Lee Reynolds, the opera depicts scenes from Akhenaten’ life, imagined from source material from the period and ends with a tour guide inviting the audience to look back at the ruins of Akhenaten’s city and consider the traces he left behind.
The full ENO production of Akhenaten, with original music by Philip Glass, will be on at the London Colliseum March 4-18.

The Lambeth Music Festival is back with 3,000 young musicians and artists performing in ten concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and many others!

Lambeth Music network celebrates diversity of music in the borough of Lambeth, bringing together a huge variety of young people to showcase their musical talents. The events this year include live music, DJ sets from Raw Material, Kinetika bloco, Groove School, London Music Matters and School Ground Sounds.

This year BBC’s the Voice finalist Lara Lee and beatboxing champion Bellatrix will be among the festivals special guests at the Southbank centre, which will host performances for primary school kids, with up to 1,800 performing.

The Lambeth Music Festival Southbank Centre performances are on March 15,15, 22, 23 and 24. Local performances are on at March 19 at Black Cultural Archives and Pop Brixton.

More information go to www.lambethmusic.co.uk and Lambethmusicnetwork.co.uk