It seems a long time since I wrote a blog and firstly, I may have forgotten how and secondly, I don’t know what to write about it. My mind is blank.
I do not want to mention anything to do with Brexit (we’re all fed up with the word – although I realise that, for musicians, it will have effect on travel to Europe, visas, cost and so on.
Music Education – could someone come up with a better name? It’s enough to put anyone off as it makes me think of the 3rs.
Statistics – endless lists of figures – 3000 achieved the stone-age project, and so on. While I recognize these are valuable tools towards making successful funding applications, what does this tell us; that young people have become passionate about music and desire above all else to be immersed in it?
Producing different and often ridiculous schemes just to attract funding.
Commissions that have no afterlife. These can be very expensive.
Doing workshops with so-called musical games that are supposed to ‘educate’ youngsters into loving classical music. You might be interested to know that when we have done workshops, it’s Bach that appeals more than anything else.
The word Gig is normally associated with jazz. Why has it become the norm for classical concerts to be called this? Is it because it is meant to grab a new kind of audience?
The two politically correct projects to my mind has been the success of BBC Radio 3’s Ten Pieces Project and likewise, Julian Lloyd Webber’s magnificent El Sistema scheme. These are opportunities like no other and those involved need to be congratulated on their foresight, courage and brave enough to forge ahead knowing that both would require a considerable sum of money in order to maximize their potential.
Now, here IS what I will Blog about –
The following things which DO bring intense joy and lasting love of music to children are:
Playing alongside professional artists in a professional orchestra. The impact and rewards from doing this are immediate and at the same time, give a thrill to the adult players as they know the long and lonely hours they have spent practising have paid off so that children as well as those of A level age are inspired to carry on scrubbing strings, blowing reeds, and hitting drums. The results are mind blowing and to such an extent, that one of the winners of the Festival’s Young Musician competition said the experience of being part of an orchestra of high calibre was the deciding factor as to whether she should pursue music as her career or do something else instead.
Taking part in a competition such as that set up by the Two Moors Festival whereby stress is removed through awarding four equal prizes instead of one. We provide an audition environment in an old barn in the depths of Exmoor and by giving chocolates to the candidates. We endeavour to create an atmosphere that is so relaxed that entrants often comment on it and although not winners, come back repeatedly to gain benefit from playing in this environment. The formula wins hands down every time.
Giving children a mini masterclass in their chosen instruments as part of their competition auditions.The four professional adjudicators give ideas, show them that an audience is on their side, tell them not to be afraid, show them how to project. The one thing we never do is make comments on the teaching. This is most important and none of our business!
Offering children/secondary students the opportunity to hear live classical music – Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn among many othes work a treat. Going to a concert and making sure you get tickets just behind the percussion or double basses so that they feel as if they are taking part.
Getting students to present a concert ie as a broadcaster would do on the radio and on TV. Of course they would have to listen and become familiar with the work prior to doing this.
They can have the chance to see what it’s like to stand in front of an ensemble, hold the baton and wave it around. One does this with prior warning to the musicians concerned.
Put questions to the professional artists and do mock interviews.
The list is endless…
No doubt this blog will cause debate and I will be shot down in flames but I FIRMLY believe that these are the things that will bring a lasting love and joy that music brings to the lives of children. They will grow up having been inspired, to realise there is a difference between listening and hearing music, to experiencing all the different emotions and effects that music can have on their lives and in many cases, it will also stimulate children into wanting to play an instrument.
This is more or less how I grabbed music with open arms and never looked back. It has remained with me for over sixty years giving me inspiration, joy, fun, a sense of humour, helping me through crisis and sadness: many chances to make new friends; given me confidence; making me able to express myself without inhibition; to make a noise; to explore music from different countries as well as their related cultures; experience religious music; to be aware of the different genres – opera,
film music, telling a story; learning about Shakespeare, poets, lyrics, screen writers, dramas, musak, being aware of sound – phone signals, beeps, noise, shouting and how Beethoven must have been so distressed at his lack of hearing.
As you can see, the list is endless.
So now over to you
I now realise that I have talked about the very things I said I wouldn’t!!