Thursday, 19 April 2012

Community Music


Music with everyone,
everyone with music

According to Sound Sense, the simplest definition is "making music with people". Community musicians help people to make music on their own terms, music that reflects their own lives and experiences.(1) My role as a community musician is to help people unleash their innate musicality and realise they can do the music they want to do. It is NOT about getting people to do the music I happen to prefer but about empowering them to do the music that most speaks to them. Its about unconditional positive regard for all people and all types of musical expression. You can listen to samples of this work on the right hand side bar.

Community music is a tool for many things. Encouraging communities to come together to share the joys of the creative process, it helps bring about a sense of place and belonging.

First performed to sell out audiences in 1996, A Bridge Across the Flood is a moving tapestry of songs and narration based on real life stories and experiences. The song cycle charts the progress of the flood from the first pitter patter of rain to the torrent that wreaked devastation on the town.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the flood, North east Somerset Arts staged to further performances of this acclaimed song cycle as part of Keynsham Town Council's Music Festival '98. Over 150 school children, musicians and singers came together again to relive the humour and excitment, terror and tragedy of that night in July 1968 when the heavens opened.

My role in this project was to enable people with mixed abilities to fully participate by creating a sounds effects group for this community performance. This group was the precursor of Totally Maracas, now an active community arts group in Keynsham.

A Bridge Across the Flood was just the beginning of community music in Keynsham!

People of Nothing was the next community music and drama project based, this time on the history of the Keynsham Workhouse. It was performed in St John's Church on 12-14th November 1998. It involved Keynsham Orchestra, local Junior schools, drama groups, Totally Maracas, and the Riversuite Singers (on the photo below).

This time my role expanded and I saw myself leading the Riversuite Singers, a community choir open to all.

Community music is very much about music for all, about promoting access to music making.

Sounds from Within was an innovative music project to enable local people who were recovering from mental health problems to explore their inner musicality and create their own music. addressing mental health. The lottery grant was used to organise two blocks of ten weekly music workshops, giving participants the opportunity to work alongside professional musicians over six months and record their original group compositions.

Paula, the musician in residence for this project, said "We are extremely pleased that the value of community music work is finally starting to be recognised. With its capacity for social interaction, increasing communication skills and self confidence, community music can be one of the most effective ways of breaking through"
Sounding Board Autumn '97

These are just a few examples of projects I've been involved in over the years. Check out the other pages for more. All the music videos on the right hand sidebar of the blog are examples of the music created/performed by the people who participated in these and other community music projects.