Throughout the year, we run an extensive Learning & Participation programme offering creative music-making opportunities to local participants of all ages. For babies and toddlers, we present our award-winning interactive opera for babies Musical Rumpus. Across a network of 15 local schools, we deliver a programme of in-school creative music projects led by music workshop leaders from our professional development programme. Through choirs and community projects we are able to engage with people of all ages, offering the chance for local people to engage in high quality music alongside professional artists. And our new pilot project Living Arts, which re-imagined care homes as arts centres, allowed older people to be creative alongside musicians, dancers and visual artists.
Composer and workshop leader James Redwood is just one artist who works with us to facilitate local groups in creating music. We gave James the microphone and asked him a couple of questions about creative music-making and its benefits.
What is creative music-making?
Creative music-making is about generating new music with a group, celebrating their innate musicianship, building on what they can already do and finding a place for all participants to stretch themselves within a safe environment. It’s about people pouring their ideas and experience into a melting pot, which we stir up and out of which something new and genuinely original is created.
What are the benefits in participating in creative music-making?
Over the years that I’ve been making music with groups in this way, I’ve seen people grow in confidence – starting off scared and intimidated and ending up self-assured and proud of themselves. I’ve seen people take risks and dare to share their ideas.
For our 40th anniversary, you wrote a piece of music in collaboration with 120 children local school children. What do you need to consider when writing a piece for young people?
You have to consider what they are currently capable of and how far they can travel during their time with you. You have to consider what will come naturally and instinctively and where you can build on this and offer up the unexpected. You have to make it accessible enough so that the learning is not demoralising. You have to make sure that it’s hard enough to be worth working on. You have to make sure that the music has heart as well as head as a driving force. You have to make it memorable.
And lastly, why is it important for young people to have the opportunity to take part in high quality music-making?
If you think that there is a value in creative music making, and I do, then you have to believe that it’s essential for this music-making to be of the highest possible quality.I think that people perform best when they respect the material they’re performing and when that material is relevant to them but also surprising and new. My aim is always to build on what is already there and to gauge how far I can stretch the musicians I’m working with.