Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

My issue in the arts: the classical concert experience November 14, 2010

Filed under: 1D: issues — concerttuning @ 10:28 pm
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How do we transform the conventional classical concert experience to make it more engaging for a wider audience?

One word answer: Diversify

Want to know a little more…

Technology has allowed music to step into the C21st but the conventional concert experience is still stuck in the past. We need to diversify the concert experience to give people a choice in the way they interact with classical music.

Want the full picture…

Today, live concert experiences are not the only way we can hear music. Music permeates our everyday lives. At the click of a button we can hear it on an ipod, instantly download it from the internet or even hear it played in public spaces such as London underground stations. The way we interact with music, including classical, is thoroughly modern. The exception to the rule is the concert experience. This tradition has remained relatively unchanged since the C19th.

For the listener who is accustomed to having technology and all its benefits at their finger tips, stepping into a concert hall can either be a welcomed or mystifying step into another world. For the vast majority of the population, their reaction tends to err to the later. If cultural institutions want to attract young and diverse audiences into the concert hall, they need to recognise the way the modern person chooses to interact with classical music.

Problematically, transforming the conventional classical concert experience is not a straightforward task. It is all too easy to criticise the current format of concerts, but it is not so easy to put forward a successful new model. However, I would argue that the main step we need to make is to diversify. We need more variety in the types of concerts that are promoted and more variety in the music played.



Gold Arts Award Completed March 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — concerttuning @ 7:42 pm

I am pleased to announce that I have passed my Gold Arts Award.

Completing the journey over the last 9 months has taken me on a life changing journey. Not only have a discovered new interests but it helped give me the impetuous to go through a career change.

The award gave me the freedom to explore my own areas of interest but within a focused framework. It encouraged me to develop my ideas and conduct extensive research.  I have enjoyed having the excuse to be able to talk to lots of interesting people as well as attending some amazing events all in the name of research. Without the award I would never have signed up to a storytelling course in a small town 1hr 30mins away, put pen to paper expressing my views or even opened a twitter account.

I have traded my role as an arts administrator for a teaching assistant. I’m loving working in a primary school and having a constant supply of guinea pigs to test out my ideas on. I look forward to training in September to become a primary school music teacher and hope that I will be able to bring all the things I learnt during my Gold Arts Award back into the classroom.

I would highly recommend the award to any young person regardless of age or abilities, as it is so flexible you can mould the qualification to suit your needs. Good luck to any others who are currently completing their awards.


Storytelling Success with School Children January 24, 2011

Filed under: 1A: extending my arts practice,1A: feedback — concerttuning @ 2:44 pm

I have taken my storytelling with music into a primary school setting. I have been running an after school music club where we having been using stories to help inspire music-making.

Each week I will take a theme such as high or low, fast or slow or smooth or spiky. I then lead a number of games to help the children understand and become familiar with the concepts.

At the end of each session we will create a story together. When prompted, the children will suggest either characters or places that we can represent musically using the musical building blocks introduced in the session. For example, the children conjured up a spooky forest and an icy landscape when thinking about high and low sounds. I then build a narrative around the children’s ideas  while simultaneously leading the children when to play.

The children have come up with so imaginative ideas. For example, the slow tortoise was depicted by very slowly alternative low notes on the recorder which was then copied by everyone else in some form or other on their own instrument. In contrast, the hare was depicted with very short and slightly crazy pattern of notes.

When I announce it is storytime, I frequently get an excited response from the students (particularly year 3 girls). I am particularly impressed when children come in the next day still talking about the story.

Comments from the children include:

My favourite bit was the story about the black cat who was a king

I think the cat should be carried in a chair around the streets as he is sleeping

Are we doing another story next week


2010 in review January 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — concerttuning @ 12:31 pm

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 66 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 68 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 30mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 21st with 91 views. The most popular post that day was The Journey: Can classical concerts engage modern audiences?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc, en.search.wordpress.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for violin, hannah conway, zingzillas, music education, and playing music.



Classical musician wants jazz/rock/pop musicians’ skills November 19, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Impact — concerttuning @ 1:28 pm
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Attending a number of events has highlighted that classical musicians need to have more than technical or performance skills. This has made me realise that my classical training has not equipped me with all the skills I need to work in the C21st.

To run music workshops you need to be able to improvise, play by ear and memorise music. These are skills that come naturally to jazz or rock musicians, but something I feel I am lacking.

Consequently, I would like to develop skills in this area.

  • I have already tried improvising by alternating musical phrases with my brother on the electric guitar.
  • I am not using music notation for my musical storytelling which I hope will improve my musical memory.
  • I am also learning tunes aurally by listening to them on YouTube or by working out familair tunes by trail and error on the cello.
  • I am even performing with a band in December and will need to compose my own cello line.

The Journey: Can classical concerts engage modern audiences?

Filed under: 1D Summary: form and communicate a view — concerttuning @ 1:00 pm
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Having played the cello for over a decade and played in countless concerts I have to admit that I rarely attend concerts. If I don’t go to concerts who does?

I asked a number of people what they thought about classical concerts. Click the links below to read their comments about what they love and/or hate about concerts as well as their idea of a perfect concert:

I developed my view about what makes a good classical concert after listening to other people’s responses and attending events. Click the links below to read the articles:

You can read my final argument here which emphasises the need for concerts to diversify.



The Journey: Concerts in the C21st

Filed under: 1C Summary: research and review — concerttuning @ 12:22 pm

As a cellist and arts administrator, I decided to base my research on concerts: their programming and format.

I wanted to look at how classical music is currently presented to audiences. I looked at a range of organisations from cutting edge to traditional and from professional to amateur. I added links to the organisations that I researched on my blog as well as well following them on twitter.

I reviewed a number of events as well as interviewing the musicians or organisers involved. Follow the links below to read the full articles:



The Journey: Exploring Music Education November 18, 2010

I particularly enjoyed developing the FUNomusica Family Concerts as part of my job working for a professional orchestra.  This prompted me to want to learn more about the role of music education within the music industry whether it is in schools, orchestras or part of outreach projects. I wanted to discover what opportunities there were to enter into this field, looking at the role of the music teacher, animateur and administrator.

I volunteered on a number music outreach projects as well as shadowing music practioneers which came to a total of 9 days work experience: