Music for a Kilburn State of Mind

Alan Medley and Kate Gleeson from Kilburn State of Mind. Picture: Kilburn State of Mind

Alan Medley and Kate Gleeson from Kilburn State of Mind. Picture: Kilburn State of Mind - Credit: Kilburn State of Mind

Alan Medley is a man on a mission to provide Kilburn with free and inclusive music tuition.

Amid what he says is the slow decline of the local live music scene, the 44-year-old and collaborator Kate Gleeson, 33, run the community focused venture Kilburn State of Mind (KSOM).

After arriving in London 18 years ago from Middlesbrough, Alan, an aspiring musician, chose to settle in NW6.

He said: “The live music scene here ten years ago was electric with around ten venues putting on gigs per night. Kate and I were a massive part of that, but that has all faded away.”

He continued: “Kilburn is a strange place for this day and age – people are honest and loyal. If I could describe Kilburn in three words it would be charismatic, eclectic, compassionate.”

With a gap in the market for free and accessible music and IT tuition, Alan and Kate launched KSOM in August 2019.

The duo were given the opportunity to open a music studio by the tenant management organisation of Watling Gardens when its chairman suggested running IT classes for residents.

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Alan said equipping the elderly with the skills to navigate today’s world of multimedia is important, and KSOM has recycled laptops, giving these to students who need them.

Music, however, is at the heart of KSOM. The charity teaches piano and guitar lessons via three full time volunteers.

The Institute of Contemporary Music (ICMP) donated a piano to give the charity its initial boost.

The pandemic and resulting restrictions have proven challenging, but KSOM has carried on and remains optimistic.

“We’ve had to adapt and are hosting classes via Zoom, which isn’t the same,” said Alan. “We’re in negotiation with the TMO to use a larger space to hold socially distanced face to face classes.”

During lockdown Alan found himself bringing generations together.

“I was teaching a piano class with an 83-year-old and a 9-year-old,” he said. “They were both helping each other and communicating on a level of connectivity that only music can bring. I want to continue to offer these kinds of environments to the residents of Brent.”

Kilburn State of Mind can be found on Facebook, or email

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