Receiving feedback about a project is always a nervous moment. As part of our Share Sound virtual ensembles project, Senior Creative Producer, Jan Ford, reflects on a recent meeting with our six Music Hub Share Sound partners to hear how it’s been going for them...
It was the first time we’ve been able to catch up with all six of our Share Sound music hub partners since this virtual ensemble project emerged back in June 2020. Each Share Sound project in each area is unique yet part of a wider collective endeavour with Artistic Director, James Redwood, at the helm.
The initial skepticism amongst some Hub staff about using a digital platform like Zoom to run an ensemble was soon allayed. Lincolnshire Music Hub, fast off the blocks back in May 2020 had already experimented with the platform, recording and producing a short piece in tribute to the NHS in May 2020. Their experience guided partners and by focusing on creative composition and creating new work rather than trying to perform together repertoire as a traditional ensemble would, everyone has contributed to, and experimented with new ways of working in the Zoom environment, which has led to the creation new and complementary virtual learning environments for young people.
Composition doesn’t scare us anymore.
~ Share Sound Hub Tutor
Share Sound has brought together tutors who wouldn’t have worked together before. Delivering instrumental lessons is quite a solitary activity I would imagine, so suddenly having lots of colleagues together in one virtual space seems to have been welcomed. The tutors are experts on their instruments, but composition was a first for some; it seems the new environment has boosted many teachers' confidence.It was pleasing to hear from a hub tutor that newfound skills were being recognised and developed further in their respective teams. The introduction to new repertoire seems to have been well received too. I sensed a change of mind set with the diversity of personnel and repertoire of Share Sound leading to greater creativity.
Because of the hybrid nature of what we've done with you, it's meant that we've got an traditional string players and brass players working alongside an electric guitar musicians and drummers, and that has been really nice.
~ Share Sound Music Hub partner
Hub tutors appear to be thinking about their ensemble offer in different ways now and we’d hope it’s because of the possibilities Share Sound is demonstrating. Mindsets are changing in terms of their offer. Ensembles that focus on creating new work are in the pipeline where young people, their tutors, and other music professionals create and present new music on equal terms. The ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ offer is being talked about especially in areas where young people might have to travel long distances to get to a live session. The combination of live sessions less often but for more time, i.e. weekends or residentials every three months, plus weekly Zooms sessions are being developed.
Many tutors have been able to develop new skills or revive ones that had been dormant for some years. The enthusiasm in sessions has be palpable. They clearly value the confidence James, the associate leaders and the orchestral musicians have given young people, particularly those who wouldn’t normally step forward. Children as young as 9 are stepping forward as leaders and introverts have shone.
Orchestras Live diligently collects feedback from everyone taking part in Share Sound, tracking change in several key aspects of the project. Some of the hubs admitted they wouldn’t normally be collecting data on such a regular basis but many are thinking more carefully about the frequency and type of feedback they want from the young people, so that they, like us, can make changes to delivery in real time rather than waiting until the end of the project to make any improvements.
They are all very proud of what the young people have achieved and are keen to share those achievements with their funders, demonstrating that they haven’t stood still during the pandemic. Together we have adapted and changed and are going forward with renewed enthusiasm and new ideas for enabling young people to express themselves creatively through music.