On 21 and 22 November, we took a new music project, exploring:sounds, to Sandgate School in Kendal (a school for children with special education needs) for the first time. Led by two of our professional musicians, eight workshops reached all 54 children in the school, primary age on day one, secondary age on day two. Each workshop was tailored specifically to the needs of the children in the group, who devised simple soundscapes and then performed these at the end of the second day. Here Joyce Fletcher, the school’s Head teacher, gives her impressions:
“exploring:sounds showed me a fresh way of presenting opportunities to be involved with, and benefit from, live music. Over only two days, the children learned listening and concentration skills. Some learnt a bit about the actual instrument and how it is used. Even I learnt something: the concept of jamming sessions – I don’t use my own skills enough in this area and will aim to do better!
All the students enjoyed it, many of our children with profound and multiple difficulties and some of our children with autism especially so, owing to the uniqueness of the sound quality of the tuba and clarinet. I thought it was wonderful to see H__’s gradually growing smile as he responded to the sound of the tuba next to him, and the way two of the children with autism had a good look into the bell of the tuba to see where the sound was coming from. That was possibly my favourite moment!
Professionally run arts workshops are very valuable to both students and staff, we select them carefully to bring something that we couldn’t bring ourselves. Projects like these are really important: they enable schools to enhance what they provide, and funding for external artists for two days would be very hard for us to find out of our budget in the current climate. Everyone said the final sharing was lovely – the Deputy Mayor has since commented to me how impressed she was.”