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...

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