THE COMPOSING PROJECT
a project bringing inspiration & opportunity to disadvantaged young musicians
Composers & performers working with disadvantaged pupils at Bristol schools. Pupils will be chosen for their natural talent & motivation, not on the basis of education dependent factors such as technical proficiency.
Participants will attend group sessions & instrumental demonstrations, and will receive ongoing mentoring through to the professional performance/recording of their compositions.
In its first year, the project will involve three schools. Beyond this, we believe that its success will lead to year on year expansion. We hope that the project can serve as a model for replication across the country and that it will, ultimately, make a genuinely important contribution to quality, diversity and opportunity in the arts.
This project will encourage young musicians to get involved in musical composition and will guide & inspire those whose talent would not otherwise have the opportunity to flourish. The project will culminate with each participant having their own composition performed & recorded.
Schools will set up after-school composing clubs to run throughout the autumn term. These will be led by professional composers & performers and will cover:
- the fundamentals of composing
- live presentations on the main instrument groups, their uses & combinations.
- writing for acoustic instruments
- imaginative thinking
- notation & software
Each participant will receive individual mentoring through the composition of a complete piece which will then be performed by a large professional ensemble with further guidance from a leading composer. The session will be professionally recorded and filmed for free online distribution.
Commissions to compose new work for the annual NMSW concert series may be offered to participating composers.
All participating schools will receive unlimited subsidised tickets for NMSW concerts. This is an important aspect of the project as it will enable schools to give large numbers of pupils their first experiences of live classical music, in an informal and welcoming atmosphere. Pupils will have the opportunity to meet and talk to professional composers and performers.
From 2020 onwards, the NMSW concerts will feature music by participants in the composing project and it is hoped that this will inspire and build interest for subsequent years.
It is essential that, in order to target the schools and pupils most in need, participation in the project is free.
In the first year, the project will be hosted by three schools. These will be chosen, in conjunction with. Bristol Plays Music, from:
- Bedminster Down
- Merchants Academy
- St. Brendan’s
- Bristol Brunel Academy
Some of these schools are particularly poorly resourced (e.g. no computer/notation software facility) and we hope to be able to address this aspect through commercial sponsorship.
Bristol Plays Music (the local authority music hub) has been crucial in introducing us to schools who are in deprived areas but who have a keen interest in music. We are currently talking to N. Somerset Music Education Partnership and the Devon and S. Glos. music hubs with a view to broadening access to the project to appropriate schools in years two and three.
This project will make a fundamental difference to the prospects and outlook of those taking part. The young people we are targeting with this project have enormous potential but will not, so far, have had the proper encouragement or opportunity to develop it.
Our expert mentoring team will help the participants to develop the skills necessary to express themselves through musical composition, whilst the practical events (workshops and performance opportunities) will challenge and inspire them to stretch their imaginations and create work they wouldn’t previously have thought possible.
For some this project will be the launch pad to a career in music, whilst for others it will be the spur for a life- long passion for music.
The project has the potential to confer life-changing benefits beyond the purely musical including increased self-confidence, broadened horizons and a more open and positive sense of the possible.
The project will help to broaden access to the arts and will challenge negative ideas about classical music. It will help to make a potentially intimidating environment seem more accessible and welcoming.
We hope that those participating in the project will provide their peers with an example of what is possible for young people of all backgrounds, encouraging a sector of the population that may otherwise feel excluded and lacking in prospects, to think beyond the boundaries that society has historically imposed upon them.
We also believe the project has the potential to contribute more broadly to the region’s mental health and wellbeing and we have been in touch with the Bristol Public Mental Health team to propose the project’s inclusion in their 10 year, multidimensional ‘Thrive Bristol’ programme.
Impact on music and the arts
The wealth of talent going undetected and undeveloped is a serious indictment of how music (the Cinderella of arts/humanities education) and composition (the Cinderella of music education!) have been served by successive governments.
In addition to this, the fact that the vast majority of people from ethnic minorities and lower socio-economic classes have little contact with the world of classical music shows how much more arts organisations need to do in terms of social inclusion.
Widening opportunity to those traditionally excluded from participation is crucial to the long term health of the arts in the UK. Equality of opportunity can only raise the overall quality of our culture and will enrich its palette with new voices and fresh perspectives.
This project is our response to this essential issue of exclusion from the arts.
Of course, not all of the participants in the project will go on to make major contributions to the nation’s cultural wealth, but even so, they will contribute to creating a larger, more informed and diverse audience.
We believe that the first year of the project will provide proof of its value and make year on year expansion possible. It will serve as a model for replication across the country and can, ultimately, make a genuinely important contribution to quality, diversity and opportunity in the arts.