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How the Beat Loop team adapted to Covid restrictions

Beat Loop session at The Cooke's Building

Boom Dang are known for delivering practical music sessions and positively impacting the lives of Looked After Children in Cumbria. We also work with other groups, building bands, working in schools, running motivational workshops and leading music leadership training across the North West and further afield.

Over a year ago we wouldn’t have imagined running our practical music sessions or Advanced Trainees music sessions on Zoom. After decades of heaving our unique Boom Dang drums and other equipment around from our storage space into the van and then into a variety of children’s residential homes or community spaces, it was hard to imagine how to make all this work in a virtual world.

Adaptability is the key

We pride ourselves on our attitude of life-long learning and our culture of reflective practice. We constantly adapt to reflect our environment and with the trust in our team we all know it’s ok to bring any ideas because it’s ok to fail – that’s why we have team meetings and team sessions.  Lockdown gave us the opportunity to try lots of new ideas including making music using animation and drawing techniques.

We were able to meet for live sessions again for a while in the summer and we partnered with NPO Theatre Factory in Barrow-in-Furness, working in the Covid secure building The Cooke’s Studio. We even had a dedicated Covid officer there. The large space was divided into islands to meet social distancing requirements. Our Advanced Trainee Damo developed a new workshop strand using a large roll of wallpaper so everyone could still get their ideas onto one image.

It still needs to be fun

We know from our work with Looked After Children and vulnerable people that no matter what we do, it has to be fun but it’s hard not to have fun when working with a great team and connecting with each other through music, with beats, live loops and riffs.

When we had to work on Zoom we created new engaging games, held quizzes and we were energised by being able to hold Master Class sessions with other organisations including Blue Jam, More Music, Jack Drum Arts, Drum Works and Konzerthaus Dortmund GmbH.

Our learning

In an ideal world all our music sessions would be face to face, there is so much communication that happens without speaking and it’s hard to see body language on the screen. We often work with young people who due to their transient lives would not ordinarily engage with group activities, we need to find ways to meet them on their terms and that’s why we work in residential children’s homes.

However, it is possible to achieve and maintain music making, learning and a sense of community online and there are even many benefits. Some activities are easier to work on using Zoom by using screen sharing. Also it saves time and reduces transport and geographical issues. In the future we will take a hybrid approach, using online methods when they are more appropriate and beneficial for the particip