Mike Poyser: REDUCING ISOLATION THROUGH MUSIC
Mike Poyser is a professional musician and Create artist. As our new project concept Create Live! came together we worked with Mike to develop a creative online project for young carers.
Create Live! is Create’s online, interactive project initiative developed to reach participants during the lockdown, offering a creative lifeline to the most vulnerable children and adults in isolation.
“It was an intense process adapting a Create music project for online delivery. Mild panic was my initial reaction! Nicky [Create’s Founding CEO] and I spoke on a Friday night, right at the start of lockdown, about the possibilities of workshops continuing online, how some aspects could work while others would be more of a challenge. We talked about safeguarding challenges and tech challenges and how we could innovate the work to keep reaching participants.
“The following week we decided to put together a couple of sample workshops – firstly with the Create staff team as participants and then with a small group of young carers who Create has worked with a lot. How to get around the latency issue was the biggest challenge musically. In an in-venue session it is simple to play as a group, but over the Internet differing connection speeds mean that each participant hears the music at slightly different times. The solution for this was a combination of live performance and recorded performance. Recording sections of audio from the Zoom session meant we could take rhythmic ideas and combine them between sessions to create a band, then the live performance element was added on top of this.
“From these sample workshops, we learned a lot about the tech and what could work musically and how to create something quite effective and interesting. This led to a very long weekend of preparing and planning for nine consecutive music sessions with a group from Action for Young Carers in Nottingham.
“During the workshops the first thing we discovered is the young people are totally chilled about the idea of working online – one participant even had their gamer headset on! We also realised that even though we were still in our own houses the combination of Zoom and some music instantly removed the isolation we probably all feel.
“We played musical games, we hunted our houses for instruments to play (pasta to shake, combs as a guiro, pots and pans to bash, books to slap together) and we started to play around with rhythms on these repurposed instruments. Once we had some cool patterns, we took recordings of these samples.
“On another session, we worked on writing lyrics for a blues piece. We learnt the structure of the blues and then put our spin on it. We even managed to perform this live, with keyboard and tuba in London and vocals coming from Nottingham!
“I was able to put together a track of the repurposed drum rhythms and the blues vocals. Once the participants had heard this and just how good it sounded, we were in business for writing more material, and we ended up creating quite an epic sounding dance track as well!
“For me, the first time we all met in the Zoom Room was really special. We are all stuck in our houses at the moment, and to see everyone meet and have fun through music was lovely! I was also amazed at how great the recordings through Zoom were and seeing everyone’s reactions when our first piece had been created was fantastic.”
TIPS FOR BEING CREATIVE AT HOME
- Listen to your body and your mind. If you are feeling inspired, find some time and space to explore that. Also, be aware that some days you may just fancy watching TV.
- The scariest part of creating something new is to stare at a blank piece of paper, so once you are in the zone just write ideas down as they come to you. The more ideas you have the better. Once you have some ideas you like then think about how to develop them. And then develop them!
- Don’t put pressure on yourself. A song about cleaning the bathroom can be a really fun thing to write about. It doesn’t need to be turned into a hit, it can be a song that you enjoy. The process of writing it is the great part of it anyway.