Voices of the Future #3

A clanger of religious proportions yesterday on my projects sponsored walk…

Young Person: That is a big church!

Me: That’s because it’s a Cathedral…

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So, what is Community Music?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Just what is Community Music? And before I get into my interpretation of it, i’d like to say that i’m no expert! These are my thoughts.

Put simply, its using music as a tool to bring communities together, and encourage people to be musical. But in reality, it’s much more than that.

It’s a movement that happens across the world, with links to education, Ethno/Musicology, youth work, therapy and much more. And Community Musicians are everywhere, though they may not know it. We do a multitude of things, such as running workshops about musical exploration with children under 6, running a group choir with retirees to combat isolation and depression, teaching precussion as a physical therapy excercise or simply taking a guitar to a hospital and performing for the patients there to brighten their day. And those are just a few examples.

But they key to it all is the WHY. Why do we do it. I’ve spoken to a variety of Community Musicians over my years and each response is personal, but follows a similar track. They LOVE music, and the positive effect it has on people, its ability to bridge gaps in age and race, and most of all, its the desire to expose more and more people to the idea that they too, can be musical. And that’s what motivates me. I was lucky enough to be involved in a music project for young people in my area when I was about 12, and thats where I caught the bug for music education and Community Music. I wanted, and still do want, everyone to have the opportunity to be musical, no matter ability, but just for the sheer enjoyment of making music and being musical.

Teenage Frustration

They’re a pain sometimes.

I’m currently working a group of teenagers on a 2 week project and we’ve just returned from the dreaded weekend break. I say dreaded, I could not wait for a weekend off after a 12 day run of work without a break! But the weekend off has successfully drained all of the motivation from my group. Friday afternoon the group were up, cohesive and passionate about their chosen project, but now, they’re like animals in a zoo.

No matter what re-direction, incentives and general telling’s off do, they’re gone again, back to their phones, dicking around. On residential programmes, we almost rely on the group getting progressively more tired as a behaviour management trick. Exhausted teenagers are less likely to act up and more like to, albeit slowly, get shit done.

It’s also the other edge of the laid back facilitator sword. You lose a bit of the authority a teacher has. Being chilled, ‘cool’ and on board with the young people helps on an emotional and operational level, but it does backfire occasionally when you have to use teacher discipline. However, the LAST thing I want to be is a teacher, but it does come with its authority bonuses.

Then, no doubt, they’ll pull it together in the 11th hour as they always do and I’ll swell with pride during their final event. But for now, it’s cursing them internally. A lot. A whole lot.

Voices of the Future #1

So, ‘Voices of the Future’ is a series of posts that will live on this blog, documenting the profound, random and mostly baffling things that the Young People I work with come out with on a daily basis. Lets kick this off with one from a first aid training session last week.

Instructor: So, when do you stop giving CPR?

YP (Young Person): When they’re dead.

Just as well it was a training session, eh?

In the beginning…

…there was a blog post.

Hello, and welcome to the Community Music Man blog. My name is Luke and I work as a Youth Worker and Community Musician in the Medway towns.

This is a blog I’ve been meaning to start for quite a while now. I’ve wanted to write about the state of Community Music and Youth Work in the UK for a while and my opinions of it, especially about how the education system approaches music and how the public see’s and understands youth services.

So, if you’re interested in how youth work and community music works, how the arts is struggling to survive in mainstream education and also (my favourite part) the random and sometimes worrying quotes the young people I work with come out with (They’re the future, after all…), then stay tuned!