Written by Imogen Morrall, musician for Creative Encounters at Beaumont Court and RAM Open Academy Fellow
I’ve often been told that I resort to using words too quickly. I’m uncomfortable with “awkward” silences and almost always try to fill gaps in conversations or workshops with questions, comments, and jokes. Before we started our sessions at Beaumont Court I vowed to challenge myself to accept silence not as a break in engagement, but as a natural space for people to process their thoughts or the music they have heard and made in the workshop.
Over the past five weeks at Beaumont Court, our team of artists have thought a lot about how to keep the sessions cohesive and exciting while giving the residents their own space to explore and express their own musical creativity. In our first few sessions I often found myself playing flute or asking a question whenever there was a musical break in the action. While some of the residents did listen to my playing, I had to take a step back and ask myself if these random spurts of flute playing were actually contributing to the workshop wholly. Was my discomfort with silence disrupting the workshops?
During last week’s session I was finally able to accept the silences as they came. I was thoroughly excited to see that the gaps in the workshop were actually filled by other residents! One resident was able to show off her incredible sense of pulse and rhythm and even improvised a short duet with another resident. At another point in the workshop, a different resident, transfixed by the rain stick he was holding, kept turning it over, even when the rest of the music had come to a stop. The group then created a piece about the sea, with the rain stick as the musical focal point.
When I was finally able to let go of my negative associations with silence, other residents were given more space to shine. These creative moments from the residents inspired and guided our sessions, and for the first time I could feel that there was a real sense of collaboration between the artists and residents. In our remaining weeks, I’m excited to deepen this collaboration and listen to the music that the residents create.