For the assessment of this module, our class gathered in the TV studio at university and each presented a workshop, in groups, to the rest of the cohort. The concept designed by my group, myself, Rachel and Jake, was called ‘Colour in Music,’ and focused on teaching children in primary education that music isn’t as scary as it seems through the use of colour. We decided to target this age because we believed that unlocking musical potential at an early age can be beneficial in forming social bonds and alleviating the effects of exclusion.
Our idea stemmed from the fact that music tends to feel quite scary and overwhelming when you first begin. All the terminology, the reading and practising can quickly lead to confusion which leads to a desire to quit. We wanted to take away all of this negativity and demonstrate an accessible approach to music that requires no prior skills and shows musical education in a more positive, and less frightening light. By associating colours with sounds we were able not only to build a piece of music in a way that was engaging and fun, but also to demonstrate that music can be made in a number of ways and that anybody can be a musician.
Our setup for the workshop was quite basic. We hung a few of our example ‘scores’ from a whiteboard as a visual representation of the workshop activities and set up a flight case as a makeshift desk to keep our materials organised and to allow the workshop to run smoothly. Another aspect of our preparations was to give everybody participating their own name tag with their names coloured in one of three colours, red, yellow or blue. This allowed for some time to be saved during the workshop, but also for less confusion when we asked everybody to split up based on the colours of their name tags.
We began the workshop by inviting everybody into the room and asked them to stand in a group in front of us. We introduced ourselves and then split the participants into groups based on their name tag colours. Red to one area, blue to another and yellow to another. After the split, we explained our first activity, the conductor task; each colour was assigned a different sound, in this case, a stomp, a clap and a ‘shhh.’ each group would make the sound linked to the colour of their name tag when either myself, Rachel or Jake held up their colour. We tested them to make sure they were paying attention by holding up the cards at random and making sure the groups responded. After this short test, we moved on to the activity proper; we prepared two ‘scores’ (just boxes on a page coloured in with the different group colours) which we conducted by holding up our colours in succession for the groups to play back to us.
After this first task, we split the groups up into smaller groups and gave them each three crayons, red, yellow and blue, a blank conductor sheet and two minutes to colour in and create their own ‘score.’ Rachel, Jake and I then took our time to make sure each group understood what the task (the composer task) involved them doing. We also encouraged them to put more than one colour in each box if they felt like it and assured them that even if they didn’t colour in all of the boxes, their score would still be played. After two minutes, we collected everybody’s ‘scores’ and asked them to regroup into their original groups. We then conducted them through one anothers’ ‘scores,’ making sure that we called each group’s name out to give them a sense of pride and achievement.
After giving everybody a round of applause, we demonstrated the similarities between a real musical score and the ‘scores’ they just created, explaining that they weren’t so different and that anybody can make their way into music if they just remember it isn’t so scary. We then gave out some take-home packs, which contained an example score, a new blank ‘score’ sheet, an explanation sheet and three crayons for them to create their own ‘scores’ at home. We then said goodbye, thanked everybody and dismissed them.
Overall I’m very pleased with the outcome of this workshop concept. Our participants seemed to be engaged, our feedback was largely positive and we felt confident in our delivery. There are, however, a few things I would change, namely our presentation. Although I feel that we presented fairly well, we didn’t quite do so as if our audience was, in fact, our target audience. By this, I mean that we didn’t treat our class of twenty-year-olds as if they were eight-year-olds. This is something we can work on for future performances. Additionally, I believe that some sort of script would have aided us, as well as a little more planning. Our approach was fairly loose in terms of dialogue and I just feel that our workshop could have been just that little bit better had we known exactly what we were saying and when we were saying.
In truth, I was frightened of performing for this assessment and my nerves on the day were terrible. But, after the rehearsal the day before the assessment and being in a supportive environment with the rest of the course, I felt a lot more relaxed and confident as the event progressed. Taking part in this module has shown me a new avenue that I can take my career down, and it’s something I never expected myself to be drawn towards, but it’s fun, and most importantly it is something that matters and is far more beneficial than simply playing gigs and writing music. Through community music practice it is possible to really help, inspire and connect with people.