Mission Statement

Drum and Brass is an organisation that supports music-making in communities that are otherwise under-served and under-represented in Cumbria and beyond. Each year, Drum and Brass helps over 200 people to take up a musical instrument and become a member of one of our inclusive music-making groups. Many of our players have faced barriers to participation, which we help them overcome via our inclusive practice and advocacy for inclusive music-making. Our digital output, events and collaborations reach thousands more people, reducing social isolation and building community through music.


Pianist Mark Polishook introduces local musicians Julie Hoggarth and Hari Trivedi. They bring their respective music groups together: Julie’s Magna Music Band and Hari’s tabla students – to perform an ambitious piece – Terry Riley’s innovative “In C”. It’s the start of a partnership which continues to traverse risky territory with endless creative optimism.


Julie and Hari form Drum and Brass CIC – registered on November 5th – to bring communities together through music. 


Drum and Brass receives Arts Council England to commission 3 original community-inspired compositions. The “Drum and Brass” project brings together musicians from Indian European and South American traditions, experimental composers and community audiences (full performance). With it, Drum and Brass sets its intention to do music differently. 


The start of a 4-year creative residency in Leicester’s prisons which includes an active role in DMU’s annual “Talent Unlocked” Festival and this year our Summer Music Week for young musicians is held at Gorse Hill Community Farm with contributions from trumpet player Gareth John and Saxophonist Marcus Joseph.


Drum and Brass gets into its stride, delivering music and arts workshops with partners FTM Dance, Vista, Woodgate Residents Association and pursuing cross-genre collaborations, e.g. as part of TEDxLeicester and with the City of Leicester Singers

In this year we also receive Arts Council England funding to produce “Woodgate – the Musical” Performed at the Attenborough Centre and Curve Theatre, all songs and music are composed by the young cast. The creative team includes Marcus Joseph, Josie Lewis and Helen Butterworth.


Participatory music-making residency at Leicester’s iconic New Walk Museum “A Beat of Time” is also funded by Arts Council England. 


Hari Trivedi achieves a long-held ambition, winning heritage Lottery funding to explore the origins of Indian Classical music in his “Prabandh” project.



Mini Music has given hundreds of new carers and babies the best possible chance of lifelong wellbeing. Drawing on the value of music to develop language and promote carer-child bonding, we are very proud of this group, initiated by Drum and Brass’s Davina Vencatisamy.


The Woodgate Band is our first inclusive orchestra. We welcome everyone through the doors and explore inclusive practice such as working from graphical scores, playing by ear and creating parts to suit individual players.


The Brass of the Saff is formed – a community band that breaks down many myths around brass bands and receives attention from across the band world. Relocation of band leader Julie to Cumbria in 2019 sees the band moving into the hands of the LeicesterShire Music Hub.


The No Bars Orchestra is formed in Leicester and opens a new era of instrumental playing by young people in the city.


Melody Makers beginner brass group begins in Cumbria during the lockdown. With the first sessions online with 4 players (see photo), in 2023 it’s going strong with 13 members and 3 volunteer leaders. It marks the start of “Brass in Eden” – Drum and Brass’s Cumbrian programme.

As Covid recedes – where is Drum and Brass?

We have long since recognised that music is barred to many people in the communities we live and work in because of social and cultural expectations relating to e.g. gender, race and disability. 

Experience has shown us that while society still assumes that instrumental playing is only for the white, straight middle class – the membership of our groups tells a different story. Our players represent all of society – despite the many barriers to doing so. 

So we have put removal of those barriers at the heart of our work. This involves speaking out for underrepresented groups nationally and in 2022 we make this official policy.

March 2022

The “Doing Music Differently” conference puts Drum and Brass at the centre of conversations about inclusion in music and sets the course for our future.

We develop partnerships with Leicestershire Music so we can offer affordable after-school music provision. SteamPunk project adds STEM skills to D+B offer.

Partnering with the forward-looking Leicester Symphony Orchestra opens direct links for learners to high-quality mentoring and performance opportunities and partnering with Woodgate means we have an accessible venue which is rooted in our community.

And in Cumbria, strong partnerships with local charity Kirkby Stephen Silver Band and arts organisation Blue Jam enable us to establish 2 after-school music groups and two further learning groups. 

Community voice, long since standard practice – is now D+B policy and in November 2022 we make it official with our Youth Board. 

And now:

The past 8 years have been a tapestry of intense learning and creative experiences. We’ve come from being artists running a company to being a company that employs artists. We’ve helped our communities to make positive changes and we have learned the value of communities to our own wellbeing. We’ve opened the doors to music-making a little bit wider.

So here’s to the next 8 years.

By 2030 we want to see UK’s bands, orchestras and ensembles looking a whole lot more like our No Bars Orchestra. It won’t happen overnight. There are many barriers to overcome but we are fully committed.


meet the team

Julie Hoggarth 

Photo by Leicester Lo-Fi, courtesy of No Bars

I am  a passionate advocate for brass bands and experimental music. I currently live in Cumbria but have spent the last 30 years in Leicester.

My favourite kind of ensemble is one in which musicians come together with open minds and ears, no preconceptions and a minimal structure and just explore. I also hugely enjoy playing with brass bands. The big warm harmonies and gut-pounding rhythms are the embodiment of community music for me. I like unusual configurations of instruments or repertoire that test the boundaries a little (a lot).

I’m attracted by the concept of community music – bringing people together, celebrating something or other and the sum of the whole being better than its individual parts. If an ensemble has a sense of adventure and risk, I am attracted by that. I like a friendly atmosphere with a tea break and the sense that everyone is valued for what they bring.

I’m put off when there are unspoken rules, poor organisation, lack of clarity and competitiveness. There is a sort of socialist ideal in music ensembles. Being a team, working together to create something bigger than the individual, everyone having a valuable role to play.

Sim Seema Mistry 

Photo by Nikhil Mistry

I have spent the last 15 years working in Education, the last 10 years as a Design Technology teacher. I have taught in both mainstream schools and SEND SEMH Specialist schools as well as work freelance to provide bespoke creative opportunities for young people with ASD and additional needs. In 2022, I decided to take myself out of the classroom and work more with the community in ways that bring people together and where learning happens organically. My role as a Community Artist/Up-Cyclist led to the creation of the STEAMPunk- Sound Junk project with Drum+Brass CIC. This project encourage young people to reconsider how items destined for landfill could be turned into musical instruments.

Now, let’s talk about music! I love listening to music and sharing the sound and feel of music with others, it is a genuine way to make meaningful connections and create memories. Growing up, I used to play the Tabla but stopped as I found other interests. More recently I think it would be a great challenge to try and learn again as its never too late to try something new or pick things up again.

I thoroughly enjoy it when I see young people who have been trying to learn an instrument make progress and gain a sense of accomplishment. I feel enthusiastic about the idea of community music as it’s about breaking barriers and people coming together with a common interest regardless of age, race or gender. It’s the idea that an ensemble breathes, performs as one and shares an experience that is transformative. 

Davina Vencatasamy


Kim Burley-Jones


Drum+Brass Music

Projects Since 2015


Hours of music