by Author sam dook

Published on

You are here:

Writing and recording music remotely with a group of musicians with learning disabilities. Part 1: Making a start

During the Covid 19 lockdown in the UK in the spring/summer of 2020 through my role as band producer for I co facilitated a music writing and recording project with a group of learning disabled musicians called the Carousel House Band. Before the lockdown we would typically meet in person to explore music and collaborations with other artists. We were no longer able to do this during lockdown so we devised ways to continue our work online. Although working online brought lots of challenges and frustrations it was also hugely rewarding both socially and artistically. I will tell the story of our project over the course of a several blog posts.

Making a start:

Transitioning to working remotely is challenging. Although technology is very much all around us these days nothing could have been more stark than the realisation that the only way we could continue to communicate and work with the people we work with would be through a portal into their lives via computer/internet technology. 

It throws up a number of issues straight away. Can i offer meaningful support in this way? Can the project participants be supported to work in this way? Do they have access to equipment to make this possible? Phone calls paved the way but within a short amount of time my colleague Claire was meeting regularly with the Carousel House Band on the video conferencing software platform Whereby. Whereby has an easy interface and uncluttered appearance and is perhaps a good first choice platform when working with people with limited technical capabilities/experience. 

Claire noted that the band really appreciated being able to stay connected and initially the sessions were very much built around the idea of people staying connected, chatting and learning the basics of how to use a video call platform. How to mute the mic, turn the the video feed on or off, re learn how to speak clearly in turns etc.

Once this had been established and the group wanted to make music the sessions contained 'creative moment' sections where the band members would show a piece of art they had made or play on an instrument. Internet latency meant playing rhythmically together was not possible but taking turns worked well as a starting point for new creativity.