Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Experimenting with story books and music August 25, 2010

I visited my parents house for a week and took the opportunity to go through all my old cello music. I found a great book with lots of well know tunes arranged for cello.

Having the idea that I wanted to involved the audience, I enlisted my Dad’s help to see if we could make up a story together. I chose a piece by random and playing through each phrase asking him questions such as who do you think the story is about and what did he then do? However, this did not produce the results I wanted, as as Dad pointed out he did not have a child’s imagination and there wasn’t enough contrast in the piece. Though we made up a piece about Pinocho not going to school, I knew I had to rethink my strategy.

The original plan was to add words to a classical piece, but after hearing an account of how an animateur combined stories and music, I scrapped my original idea and decided to start with the story and work the music around this. Consequently, I delved into our old children’s books to find some good stories for inspiration.

I selected some books that had lots of repetition and a clear structure, so that there were plenty of opportunities to repeat tunes. Some particular favourites were ‘On the way home’ and ‘Peace at Last’ by Jill Murphy, as well as a recent book, ‘Room in a Broom’ by Julia Donaldson. Another story to look at would be the ‘Gruffalo’. These books all have several contrasting characters, as well as a repetitious structure.

I then experimented added tunes to characters as well as creating sound effects with my cello until I had something resembling a story interrupted with short musical interludes.

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Musical pictures: 12 June 2010, Tate Britain July 14, 2010

Filed under: 1B: volunteering/training/shadowing — concerttuning @ 10:19 pm
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I volunteered to help at a music workshop at Tate Britain on 12 June from 9am-3pm. As well as getting to watch and participate in the three sessions, I helped set up and clear the workshop space by moving the percussion instruments and handing out the evaluative questionnaires.

The workshops were each unique as they involved a different set of families but each incorporated listening, looking, moving and playing. They were skilfully lead by composer/animateur Helen Woods (www.helenwoods.com/) who through her exuberance engaged the children (and parents).

As the families arrived in dribs and drabs, Helen launched straight into the workshop by using warming up games such as shaking different parts of the body to see how the musicians depicted this musically. We then played an unique version of musical statues where we connected different movements, whether walking, tip toeing or running to a different instruments and musical motives.

The group then heard an excerpt of classical music arranged for xylophone, double bass and french horn while trying to imagine the music telling a story. After deciding the group’s interpretation of the music, we re-enacted the story to the live ensemble. My favourite version was of a fox creeping up and eating its prey.

After looking at the paintings, Helen focused on two paintings in the room. With the percussion instruments provided, the children then created a musical landscape to represent each picture. Their concentration was put to the test, as Helen ran between the painting signalling for one or the other group to play.

After the workshop, families could stay to explore the rest of the gallery with the help of the art box.