31 March 2011

Hear This!

Here are a couple of off-the-cuff recordings from recent workshops:

1) I had a jiggly bunch of 25 Year 3s from a French school; after their tour of Handel House with Claire they bounded into my room (well, Handel's room, but one day it will be mine...) to create some 'water music' in about 30 minutes. We started off by brainstorming types of water, then thinking of imaginative ways to describe them. In groups, the kids used first their voices to create a musical motif around their pair of words, then expanded that into simple percussion. Here's the result! Handel House workshop March 2011 Yr 3 Water Music by Kerry Andrew Composer

2) I had the first words-and-music-based session with the choral scholars at Marylebone C of E School, following their amazing work with the poet Evlynn Sharp. I had a strangely small number this week but they were excellent, coming up with three 'Love is like' sketches based on a couple of lines of their writing, which after about 40 minutes of group composition sounded like this: Opera Project 2011 Marylebone Love is Like... by Kerry Andrew Composer

10 March 2011

Get Composing (Or Else)

Over the last couple of months I've done a fair bit of workshopping here at Handel House.

First up was a 3-session course for 8-12 year-olds in Sunday afternoons. The idea was that the lessons would be in formal composition (eg notation-based), aiming to address the lack of this sort of teaching in the classroom. I worked with 10 super-bright kids in creating solo pieces for their own instruments - the perfect starting point for new composers. We used non-musical ideas as a basis for musical inspiration, with a Kandinsky painting as a springboard (heartwarming kids' quote no. 1: 'Oh, I LOVE abstract art!' Show that to Jamie's Dream School...). The composers then chose their own inspirations, from Arabian jewelled eggs to different types of tea, and foxes and aliens to Japanese art. You can only do so much in the time, and it would be lovely to spend more time working closely with them, but the students did pretty well, and performed their miniatures to an appreciative crowd in the performance room last Sunday.

There have been a couple of stand-alone workshops, where I have had the challenge of teaching composition 14-18 year-olds who were a mix of music and non-music students. Confusingly, one class said they WEREN'T music students when they WERE, and no teacher corrected them. Some sort of identity crisis there... We did a mix of body percussion rhythms that we all put together and similar work to the Get Composing class. Here are a couple of images from this workshop:

Finally, we have kicked off a small Opera Project with a charming and frighteningly talented bunch of girls at Marylebone C of E School. Taking the themes of three arias from Handel's Rodelinda as a starting point, the girls have been writing their own texts based on love, revenge and nature, with a view to then creating unusual vocal pieces out of them. Evlynn Sharp, a wonderful poet and lecturer, has been bringing her uniquely calm, wordly and encouraging voice to the class and getting the most amazingly mature work out of the students. The sort that makes Claire, Learning and Events Officer, and I well up in the corner: I'm looking forward to seeing more work in a fortnight and taking it from there, whilst trying not to blub...