So she bought the bus, which she is fitting out with booths for young people to try rhythm and bass guitars, keyboards and an electric drum kit. “They practise individually with headphones, and then an integral sound system enables them to all play together.” There’s even an external stage.
“It’s all about the joy of music,” says Sinclair. “We’ll go into, say, a primary school, and do five weekly sessions. We’ll ask them to put forward children who they feel need that positive life experience – perhaps kids who aren’t academic, or have behavioural issues.
“I am on keyboards and vocals, and we also have a drummer and a guitarist. We’ll show the children something individually to learn, and by the end of the five weeks we have a performance. We’re guided by them – it could be a song or a mash-up of riffs. We’re called the Rock School Bus but we’re not welded to rock – we do whatever the kids want. The most important thing is that it’s fun, engaging, using electric-based instruments, and it unlocks that door for them.”
Sinclair paid for the bus herself and launched a crowdfunding site that has raised £10,000 for its kit. She’s also applying for grants because she is determined to keep the service free. “I want to help children who don’t get the exposure to music, and help schools to make that happen,” she adds. “Many can’t afford a facility like this and the chances of a musician visiting them is so slim. It’s up to me to do something about it.”
Sinclair also hopes her bus will change some schools’ perceptions. “Music is as beneficial for you, emotionally and physically, as sport. You have to learn skills, practise, work hard, talk to each other and work as a team. And it keeps you agile and in shape – there isn’t an unfit successful drummer out there. Yet music always seems to be a ‘non-essential’ that’s the first to go. That’s crazy, considering just how vital it is for self-esteem and good mental health and just generating a zest for life, which so many kids are struggling with right now.
“But you want them to engage, and want to learn more, so when they go up to secondary they ask the question: ‘Why isn’t there music here?’ or later, they have their own kids and ask their schools the same question. Families just need to discover it."
Sinclair does not see this becoming a commercial venture. “As long as I can cover my costs, I can keep my fellow musicians in work, which stops them being lured away from the area and leaving us even more culturally deprived, I’ll be happy. If there’s a need for this, and the funding is available – why wouldn’t you do it?”
Amber Launder, East Midlands local enterprise manager for the bank, says: “It's wonderful to have been able to support Amber’s ambitions for Rock School Bus; it’s such a fantastic initiative that will help creativity to flourish locally. Providing an outlet for people to express themselves after everything the last year has thrown at us is vital. It's my pleasure to be involved in supporting businesses like these that are focused on more than just profit, allowing people to develop their creative and commercial skills hand in hand, while also encouraging the local music industry to recover and thrive.”