A MUSIC project in Bolton is giving youngsters a chance to learn new skills — from fronting a rock band, to writing songs and organising gigs.

Rock It! launches its next project on Saturday, May 10, giving 11 to 18-year-olds, with a passion for music and the arts, the chance to shine, build confidence, and make new friends.

It is run by volunteers, and music fan Mindee Hutchinson, who worked at Road-runner Records, in London, a music label that looks after international bands, including Nickleback and Slipknot.

The mum-of-two, who came back to Bromley Cross after the birth of her first child, said: “I worked on the commercial end and wanted to do something a bit less shallow.”

Formed in Bolton in 2006, Rock It! runs sessions on Saturdays, at Redbridge Studios, in Breightmet Fold Lane, and is funded by various charities, including the BBC Performing Arts fund, and the Arts Council.

The 35-year-old said: “If they want to play an instrument, we gauge their talent.

“We look at what kind of music interests them. It’s about the music, and it’s about coming out with original music, and composing, learning how to perform, and working together.

"It’s about people progressing in the industry.

“It’s a non-school environment. That’s what seems to keep people going. It really gives them a sense of the adult world.

"We’ve got young people who are capable of answering phones, negotiating deals, and mediating with adults.

“That’s the skills they are getting out of it. That’s playing in a band.”

The year-long project is split into terms, with the intensive first one aimed at transforming participants into a musician ready to record at Redbridge Studios.

There are several performances throughout the year, and collaborations with organisations such as the Hallé Orchestra, with a piece planned to be performed at this year’s Rock It! festival, at Queen’s Park, on July 26.

Every year Rock It! hosts a youth songwriting competition, with the winners releasing an original track on iTunes.

Three-piece band Off Piste — Tom McNicholas on drums, George Rudd on guitar, and Christie O’Connell on bass and vocals — scooped the accolade in 2013 and their song, Over You, was released in January.

Christie, aged 17, from Heaton, said: “We used to play together at home before, but didn’t really have any focus. This changed when we started with Rock It! and we started to come together better as a band, writing more original music and becoming more confident in performing on stage.

“I learnt to play bass, and we even won a local battle of the bands competition earlier this year.”

The group now volunteers on the Rock It! project, helping other teenagers learn to play instruments and write new music, as well as helping organise events such as the annual festival.

Evie Pendlebury, aged 13, from Halliwell, said: “Rock It! is a great experience. I joined twice as it was so much fun, and now I'm proud to be a trainee music leader.

“I still play in bands, and gig around Bolton and Manchester, and I even got to play at the BBC for a special showcase last year. It’s an unforgettable experience, and keeps getting better.”

There are 30 spaces available each year and weekly sessions cost £5, with some bursaries available.

Places are given on a first-come, first-served basis to people living in, and around, Bolton.

E-mail rockitbolton@gmail. com or contact Mindee on 07967 002573, by tomorrow, May 7.