Student Harmoni, aged 14, attends Carr Manor Community School, a Magic Breakfast Partner School in Leeds. Along with studying for GCSE’s in Music, Sociology and History, Harmoni has a huge passion for music, is a talented singer-songwriter, and plays a range of instruments including the piano, guitar, drums and ukulele.

“The first instrument I ever played was the guitar, I remember picking one up when I was about nine years old and loving the sound of it. I’ve been singing since I was little too, my Grandma used to take me to her church choir after school which is when I fell in love with it.”

“Other than a few guitar and drum lessons at primary school I’m mostly self-taught. I’ve never had any formal training; I learnt most of what I know from playing sheet music at school. I have a hard time expressing my emotions, so I find music a great emotional outlet. If I’m happy I often write a song, or if I’m sad I might have a strum on my guitar. I enjoy listening to and performing all types of music, particularly R&B, rock and pop – I’m a big fan of Billie Eilish”.

Lockdown was difficult for Harmoni, who struggled to learn at home when the pandemic hit and the school closed.

“I found it really hard – I didn’t have access to a laptop which made things really difficult, and I’ve got three younger sisters at home too, so it was all a bit much. It wasn’t a very happy time so I stopped playing music, I just couldn’t connect or use it as an outlet like I usually would. In the latest lockdown my school reopened for a small number of students, so I was able to go back in and learn in a small group, which I really enjoyed. Things are so much better now school has fully reopened.”

Harmoni’s school have been hugely supportive of her passion for music and have helped her progress, covering the cost of her drum exams, giving her a platform to play at school performances, and putting her forward for ‘Leeds Got Talent’ in 2019 – where she sang and played the guitar, coming fourth overall in the competition. Harmoni also attends Rock School each year, a week-long programme where she composes songs and gets the chance to perform live at The Wardrobe, a music venue in Leeds.

Harmoni has been attending and volunteering at her school’s breakfast club since joining the school four years ago, and has now become a breakfast club ambassador which involves setting up, clearing away, wiping down tables and making sure the classroom is ready for the first lesson.

She also helps to raise money for food or new games – which has been so successful the breakfast club now has a pool table for students to enjoy. Harmoni has won two school awards for her great work supporting the breakfast club.

“My mum works in childcare and starts early in the morning, which meant I always used to get to school early without having had breakfast. So I joined breakfast club, and I love it. It’s a really nice way to start the day and is a calm, safe environment. Some days we play games so it can be really fun too, and it’s a great place to meet people. When I started going there weren’t many people from my year group there, so I made friends with kids in other year groups. It’s great to have friends in older year groups to look up to, and know they’re looking out for me.”

“Having breakfast gives me enough energy to get through the day. Food is energy, so it’s important to fuel your body so you don’t run out. If I don’t have energy, especially in the morning, I’m really tired and I can’t fully engage.”

“When I’m performing I need more energy because playing music, and singing especially, can be really physical and high energy. During performances I always take food to snack on to help keep me going, if I don’t I won’t perform well at all. I need to eat in order to write music too, it helps power my brain. Eating good meals definitely helps me be a better musician”.

“For breakfast I like to have something like toast or porridge, which gives slow-release energy. If I’ve got a performance after school I’ll usually have something filling for lunch like a sandwich. If I don’t have enough to eat beforehand, or something to snack on, I won’t give my best performance”.

Harmoni dreams of being a professional musician when she leaves school, either as a solo artist or a producer. She also wants to use her knowledge and skills to educate people on food and poverty, and how Magic Breakfast is making a positive impact. 

“I don’t really want to be famous, I just want to be a great musician and for people to hear my songs. I’d love to make songs with multiple artists too, that would be my dream – that’s what I see as success.”

Pupils like Harmoni need Fuel for Success. Help fund breakfasts for hungry schoolchildren in the UK, so, like Harmoni, they have the fuel to succeed in and out of the classroom.

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