About Us

Hull Sound CirclesHull Sound Circles is a community music organisation based in Kingston upon Hull. We provide educational, cultural, recreational and therapeutic music workshops for schools, colleges, universities, charities and local communities. 

Learning and playing music enables people to gain transferrable skills, such as listening, communication, fine motor skills and teamwork. Music is also a powerful medicinal tool for mental and physical well-being. Academic evidence highlights the health benefits of recreational music making. 

For schools, colleges and universities we can design individual, curriculum-linked workshops and packages to suit your requirements. For community a variety of workshops that bring all ages and abilities together to share inclusive musical experiences. We offer young people the chance to gain the valuable Arts Award at four levels: Discover, Explore, Bronze and Silver.

We employ local professional musicians and facilitators to deliver a wide variety of music workshops including: 

  • Drum Circles
  • West African Rhythm/Song/Dance
  • Arabic rhythm/song 
  • Gamelan (traditional Indonesian percussive music)
  • Sound therapy
  • World/old-time singing
  • Soundscapes
  • Electronic music
  • Guitar/band projects for youth
  • Kantele/Ukulele workshops
  • Ukulele and singing
  • Early Years music ( 0 to 5 yrs)
  • Song circles
  • Guitar workshops
  • Violin/Keyboard workshops

Our Mission

To educate and develop the musical skills of all participants.

To use a variety of teaching and facilitation approaches to music making.

To improve physical and mental well-being through music making. 

To foster individual and group creativity and expression. 

To reach communities of all abilities, ages and cultural backgrounds. 

Donna Smith – Coordinator/Facilitator

Donna has worked as a professional community musician since 2003. She has specialist knowledge of a variety of musical genres and a proven track record of delivering high quality musical workshops. Throughout her career, she has delivered workshops to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, including:

  • 0 to 5 years
  • teenagers
  • adults
  • elderly people
  • People with SEND
  • People with SLD/PMLD
  • people with visual/hearing impairments
  • people with Alzheimer’s
  • refugees

Whatever the project, Donna brings lessons from her twin passions for travel and ethnomusicology to her work. In her 5 years in Egypt, she learned the chants and rhythms of both Egyptians and the Bedouin. While living with the Kalash tribe in Pakistan, she learned the local chants and songs and connected with the local tribes, participating in chanting and singing around the village fire. While staying at the Milarepa monastery in Tibet, she soaked up the beautiful chants of Tibetan monks. She has also lived and trained with internationally renowned teachers in Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Conakry learning the intoxicating music of West African rhythm, dance and song. 

Donna is the founder and facilitator of Hull Sound Circles and Humber Drum Circles. Donna is also the coordinator and facilitator for Hull Drum Circle and the Rhythm Pixies, an urban orchestra for 13 to 19-year olds funded by Music4U/Youth Music/Arts Council. Donna works with the special schools of Hull developing original music pieces for the annual Colours of Music concert.

Other projects and roles have included:

  • delivering drum/song therapy sessions for the Humber Primary Care Trust and NHS
  • mentoring for Youth Music and Music4U
  • composing, facilitating and conducting the main piece for the 10th anniversary of Music4U
  • being music leader for the National Centre for Early Music, facilitating projects such as Sing Up, Hopscotch, Rhythms of the World, Gamelan and Melody Monkey 
  • coordinating the Hull Mela festival, a celebration of equality and diversity through music, art, dance and food, in 2004/5.

Qualification and skills

BA (Hons) Community Music
Village Music Circles mentor/facilitator 
Gamelan workshop leader

Sound therapist 
Rhythm2Recovery/Music Medicine practitioner 
West African/Arabic rhythm specialist
Song Circle/Vocal Alchemy leader
Early Years music practitioner
Guitar/Ukulele teacher

Donna continues to strive for both personal and professional development, keeping her skills up to date by training with leading teachers both in the UK and internationally.

We believe that music within communities brings about positive, long lasting and life changing experiences. Community music breaks down barriers between people and cultures. It enables people to take part in social activities that build confidence, skills and breaks down loneliness and isolation Sound Sense

Community Music is a term used to describe an approach to music that is inclusive and participatory. This can operate both therapeutically and educationally, with its own rich history and culture – Goldsmiths, University of London

For community Drum Circles, an attitude of service to the community is the foundation from which to operate. All people from all walks of life, all colours have various things that they can do together, create harmony, and it is the simplest thing to make music and sing together Arthur Hull 

Throughout history rhythm has been used to embed learning. All of us remember using rhythmic processes for remembering factual information such as the number of days in the different months of the year, or our mathematical times-tables. We have also passed down social learning, ethics and values this way through traditional folk-songs, and nursery rhymes, and maintain this tradition in much of our popular music. Memories embedded rhythmically are amongst the most lasting. A visit to a dementia ward will reveal how after almost everything else is lost, musical memory remains – Simon Faulkner

It’s involving people in an opportunity to support each other to express themselves creatively in ways that perhaps they had never done before and most importantly, it brings people together. It bridges the differences between people and it allows for unparalleled creative expression that really changes our biology and we’ve been able to demonstrate that on multiple occasions Dr Barry Bittman

We’ve been able to show on multiple levels [both] biologically and psycho sociably that we’re able to reduce stress even on the DNA level and what’s exciting about this is that stress is one of those factors that contribute changes in us that lead to disease and by doing this, we can keep people healthy –Dr Barry Bittman