Partner Post is a series of blog posts written by our project partners, showcasing the impact of collaborative co-producing. Here Jennifer McKie, Head of Lincolnshire Music Service, shares her experiences of working in partnership with Orchestras Live on Share Sound, our virtual ensembles project taking place digitally across the country during lockdown.
The past year, for all of us, has been challenging beyond words and we've all learnt to adapt and find new ways of working. Music is integral to young people's well-being and this has been so important to us during the pandemic and will continue to play a key role as we move forward. However, here at Lincolnshire Music Service, we've constantly questioned 'Are we doing the right thing?' when making decisions that we never imagined we'd make a few months earlier.
The pandemic brought our current practices to a grinding halt and unless solutions were found quickly, music making activities would cease at a time when they've never been needed more. We took the decision early on to be brave in our decision making and find solutions which were not stopgaps but exciting new opportunities that created new ways of working and partnerships.
Orchestras Live were able to facilitate connections and partnerships which helped to develop new conversations to shape our ideas. This wider team of stakeholders helped to share the risk, bring new strategies and approaches to the table. Rather than moving and adapting our existing ensemble offer online, we created an entirely new advanced ensemble offer for 2020/21 through Share Sound, which benefits from online collaboration and addresses some of our current pre-COVID challenges. Our new Lincolnshire Youth Virtual Orchestra has 100 members ranging in age from 10-20 and who are Grade 4+.
There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
Lincolnshire is a large rural county and online rehearsals actually increase the amount of direct support we are able to offer to young people through online materials/scores, 1:1 sessions, sectionals as well as massed rehearsals. We've been able to focus more on what our young people want in terms of repertoire choices e.g. video gaming music. New partnerships have been formed with the Manchester Video Gaming Orchestra culminating in a spectacular version of Elder Scroll V:Skyrim during December 2020:
In addition we're working with James Redwood and Chineke! who have brought a fresh perspective to classical music for our young musicians by 'Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music'. This partnership would not have been possible alone and has had a profound impact on our young players in terms of creativity and the music they access.
Today's workshop was very informative and engaging. It also made us think more deeply about the music that we are playing.
~ LYVO Member
So, 'Are we doing the right thing? '
This year, we've taken risks and it's been really refreshing. In fact, we were awarded Youth Organisation of 2020 by the Classical Digital Music Awards which is a credit to everyone involved. Developing new partnerships takes time and isn’t always easy however this shared approach has really strengthened the offer. It's made us evaluate more closely our effectiveness and many of the new strategies will continue into next season as we recover from the pandemic. However, nothing beats the intimacy of rehearsing and performing together and we can’t wait for that day to return!
Jennifer McKieHead of Lincolnshire Music Service
Partner Post is a series of blog posts written by our project partners, showcasing the impact of collaborative co-producing.
Jennifer is the Head of Service for Lincolnshire Music Service which is the lead organisation for Lincolnshire Music Education Hub. She has a breadth of knowledge across the cultural sector and was recently awarded a Clore Fellowship which recognises enriched and transformative cultural practice and engagement. Jennifer is currently a trustee of Music Mark and is a member of the Arts Council England Midlands Area Council.
Through Share Sound we have created new inclusive ensembles which let young people compose, curate, rehearse, perform and record new music digitally. Youth voice and co-creation is at the heart of the project, which aims to attract a wide range of young musicians including those playing in different genres and from diverse backgrounds who might not have been involved in traditional youth ensembles before.