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What I’ve learnt as a shadow artist on the Wavelength project, the impact it has had on the participants and how it will affect my future practice.

A short synopsis of the first youth Music project of our new organisation, Creativity Works Preston

Megan Collis and Polly Virr, our Fledgling musicians have recently completed a residency on Ward 76 and have written about their experiences and one particular magical moment with Baby B:


Ruth Spargo and Cecily Smith, our Fledgling musicians have completed two residencies on Ward 81, the Burns Unit at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. The first was in September last year and the second in January to February this year. They have written about the inspiration for the project, the magical world of music they created and some of the challenges they faced working in such an isolated department. The featured image shows an example of the art work in the Burns Unit created by Lime Art (photos copyright Lime Art):


Being passionate about music is something pretty standard. Right? Or perhaps, because of my own personal musical interests I was always drawn towards people with a similar view.

It is often forgotten, or at least not properly recognised, that young people these days have a multitude of activities, instagram posts and new gadgets thrown at them at the same time, making it difficult for them to focus on one particular activity or interest. Why would a young person be passionate about, or even spend time, contemplating one thing such as music when they can do ten things (including listening to music in the background) at the same time? At a time when trends change at the speed of light and multitasking is a seemingly "must have skill", this is a fair point. Hence, we should not be surprised that our perception of music and its significance is often not theirs.

I have been delivering therapeutic music programmes for the past year and a half and have come across several children and young people (CYP) who despite regularly “listening to music” never actually stopped to think about its significance or the embodied emotional and creative expression within. When questioned about what they think about this or that song, they often reply “I like it” or “it’s annoying”. More rarely than we wished we heard comments such as "it makes me sad", "it calms me down", and even less mentioning music structure, instrumentation, rhythm, lyrical content or even relevance in today’s society. Arguably, such understanding could lead to a better appreciation and deeper involvement with music and therefore my task as a musician, clinician and teacher is to help these young people with breaking down the barriers that separate them from a more meaningful relationship with music. But how to do so? Well, if only I had the key answer to the question...however I don't, and neither believe there is one.
Still, there are a few things to consider. Age is an important factor to consider when preparing a session. For the younger groups we often focused on introducing music through its rhythmic patterns starting from the most basic time signatures. Once they are familiar with the percussive instruments we can use call and response type exercises to get them interacting with each other and the leaders as well as encouraging improvisation. This often works really well as a first introductory session where we are seeking to establish a therapeutic relationship between the leaders and the CYP. For the older groups, we often start with music they already have a connection to and appreciate. We have observed that this often facilitates engagement and interest from the beginning which is vital to the success of the any project or programme. 
As the sessions progress we can start introducing them to other music genres through very clear, and even stereotypical tracks. At this stage being careful not to pick tracks which fuse different styles of music that may confuse the understanding of how a particular genre “typically sounds or at least "used to sound". These sessions will allow the CYP to recognise different instruments and rhythms whilst linking them to the genres they are often associated to (a bit of History of Music). Once the main concept is grasped, we can later explore sub-genres and the fusion of styles. This will often link back to some of the music they are already used to listening to on their phones everyday. It is both helpful to know the origins of genres (and its main traits) as well as encouraging a creative, non-restrictive thinking process when writing new music. We have seen that this will not only add to their knowledge but increase their self esteem when they see they are able to tell their friends about the new facts they have learned. Hence, the purpose of this exercise is not simply to educate the CYP towards music itself but to allow them to identify ways in which they can connect to it in a positive and perhaps therapeutic way.
Although very minimal, these points have aided the delivery and development of our programmes whilst guiding the CYP towards a greater interest in music and how to use it purposefully to aid their emotional wellbeing. It is incredibly encouraging to see this in practical terms where by the end of the programme several CYP reported a greater appreciation of music as well as the interest in trying different instruments at school or at home. In the end, we believe these activities will help CYP break some of the barriers that separate them from a more meaningful relationship with music, or at least raise some awareness about the different ways in which they can engage with it.

Through the Doorway to Healthy Living's mini-music sessions provide weekly opportunities for pre-school children to make (and listen) to music with their parents or carers, as well as be active through movement and dance.

Music education in rural areas in jeopardy….BUT decent broadband is the answer

• Virtual music tuition can fill the gap for remote schools but relies on superfast broadband

• New report supports findings of “The State of Rural Services 2016”, published earlier this year by Rural England

In a new report launched today, youth music development charity NYMAZ spells out how digital technology could revolutionise the way schools provide music tuition. But it warns that poor broadband in rural areas is limiting young people’s access to equal life opportunities.

Without free access to learning music, there is little opportunity for disadvantaged children to engage and benefit from learning a musical instrument. To address this issue, this project provides free music tuition and instruments to 70 disadvantaged and socially isolated young people, aged 5 to 19 years.

Complimentary tickets to London Scala show for Youth Music project participants aged 18+. Register here.

Developing a team of Assistant Music Leaders for a new music workforce.

  • by WKMT

    Thu 2 Mar 2017

As performers you will or have already experienced a form of nervousness during or before a performance at some point. To some of us it is simply nerves we have to let fade away until we get into our ‘zone’ of comfort and concentration during our performances and to others it can cause very negative effects on our overall ability to deliver a level of musicianship we know we are very capable of.

SoCo Music Project is excited to be creating a new post to support the development of Urban Music in Southampton...