Call Me Old-Fashioned ...

The Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust Musical Inclusion Team are having a very busy week, lots to blog about, what to choose?

Using our own creativity and imagination, Kate Rounding and I spent Monday afternoon setting up a number of zones around the NMPAT building.  The spaces are usually used for orchestral and band rehearsals, instrumental music tuition, Grade examinations, meetings, early years music groups and probably other things I don't know about :)    Eerily empty for the summer holidays, we had the run of the building, and by the time we had finished we had set up Africa, Samba, Percussion, Strings, Organ and Keyboards, Tech, Rock and Chill Zones, most of which also had a piano to hand.   This was originally in preparation for a day working with children and young people from DeafConnect (which I think Jon Kendall's gonna share in a blog), but we decided it might also be interesting for the young carers.  Both Kate and I have a lot of experience working collaboratively with other art forms, and wanted to offer a range of visual and sensory experiences in addition to this week's projects.*

*Tongue-in-cheek our team leader, Simon Steptoe, suggested Kate's "Chill Zone" was only missing a bubble pipe and a few incense burners, but it was the perfect place at the end of the day for the young people to relax, write, draw and colour their feedback for us, they couldn't wait to explore this gentle place with temple bells, chimes, metallophone, away from all the other sounds they'd been making ...

Feedback from previous projects with the young carers group had specifically said they would like more hands-on-the- instruments time and small group compositional work, and we were keen to deliver a fun music day that supported this.

Seven 8-12 year olds, along with their experienced and supportive worker Trevor, spent the day making and playing music together with us, exploring almost all the zones we had created.  Interestingly we never reached the tech zone, the children totally immersed in finding out about and playing the wide range of instruments and music (both genre specific and genre-free) we had made available.  Amongst other things, the day ended with impromptu performances to each other - a balafon, djembe and dundun piece composed by three girls in the group, a 1970s rock song with young Ty on the drum kit, and a range of improvised group pieces using combinations of all the other instruments around the building.

The day, for me, was summed up by the feedback comments written by Evie, who is an ambassador at her school for the lunchtime african drumming group to which she belongs.  Evie told me she's made it her job to make sure the group is involved in as many music and arts projects across the school, taking their genre specific music and developing it in a range of ways in school productions.  Evie's feedback:

"I would like to come again, because today has taught me to access my creativity and to explore my imagination to its full potential.  This is why I made an origami fish.  It is free, and it is a resourceful creature."

I'd like to think that, using our own freedom and resourcefulness, the NMPAT Musical Inclusion Team can be proud of the part we played in creating a good, old-fashioned music-making day that enabled everyone to explore their creativity and imagination with very little help from the National Grid ... 







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Dougie Lonie's picture

Thanks for posting Julie. Sounds like a really interesting day. Reminds me of Peter Moss and Pat Petrie's work on children's spaces and how making spaces creative, accessible and developmental takes a lot more than just chucking in some instruments (or technology - or paints, or whatever else)...


It's great to hear Evie talk about how a little bit of thought about how space is used can really spark her imagination and creativity. Luke dickens and I have also written a bit about music and space in the recent book 'Informal Education, Childhood and Youth' which you might be interested in at some point - it's an expensive book to buy, but should be accessible through libraries.


Julie Wright's picture

Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Dougie. Will certainly take a look at the links. Throughout my freelance career I've always made time to ensure whatever workspace I'm given, is transformed in some way, and the extra effort is almost always worth it!!!