Skills Lab: from creative composition to arts & health

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Exploring creative composition, music making with and for early years, and arts and health with Sam Glazer and guest leaders Sarah Freestone and Zoe Palmer.

Skills Lab: Creative Communities is a practical training academy for musicians of all genres who want to develop skills in creative music-making and leadership with a wide range of communities.

The last couple of sessions have been packed! In April, we had the third day of the series, exploring techniques and approaches for creative group composition led by Sarah Freestone and Sam Glazer. In May, we were joined by Zoe Palmer who led a session on creative practice and its impact on long-term health conditions, and creative work with early years – a topic which was then unpicked further by Sam Glazer, who shared his vast experience and passion for making music with and for babies and toddlers.  

It’s a privilege to work with such an open and creative group of emerging musicians attending the training. With open eyes, minds and ears, they always spark interesting discussions, pose lots of practical questions and point to further areas we need to keep exploring. 

What did our participants learn? Have a read and a watch of their thoughts 

Day 3: Improv & instruments

Participant Carli recorded a video diary…

Another participant sharing their thoughts:

“During this workshop, we focused on improvisation. For me, the highlight was Sam’s afternoon session where we practically explored improvisation and how we could approach it when leading our own workshops. 

We were challenged to split into groups and collaboratively create a short melody. Sam mentioned that putting boundaries on improvisation can make sessions more effective, as boundaries make the task more focused. This proved to be true!  For this exercise, each person in the group could only contribute one note at a time. I was surprised that my group came up with such a lovely tune without knowing where we were going to end up going. It helped me to realise that tiny contributions can create something beautiful. 

We were then given another improvisation exercise. At some point during this exercise, we were asked to go round in our groups and improvise using any notes while all starting and ending on the same note. This final exercise felt like my group and I were having a conversation. It was really grounding and unifying whilst allowing us all to express ourselves individually. And I guess that’s what improvisation as a group is all about: responding to each other and playing in unity while each individual has space to express themselves. 

My main takeaways are that boundaries can aid the creative process and that uncertainty when making music is something to embrace.” 

Day 4: Early Years & Arts for wellbeing

Chloe’s experiences:

“This session was the perfect blend of practical activities, discussion and listening. As a part-time Music Therapy student, early years music is very relevant my learning, and I felt that this session has helped me build further on my knowledge and skills in this area. I have left with further ideas on songs and song writing with early years, and industry knowledge about the importance of working with parents and within staff teams. Something that really stood out to me was how in order to make sessions inclusive and accessible, music-making should be an invitation and not a demand. 

I found it particularly inspiring to hear about Zoe’s work with women experiencing post-natal depression, particularly as hospital work is an area I am interested in myself. It was clear how invaluable this work must have been to the mothers involved, and it was really useful to hear more about how Zoe approached this project and some of the ideas she used. I also really enjoyed watching Sam’s clips from the Music Rumpus- this was so heart-warming! I have never considered operas with babies but it looked absolutely brilliant and really makes you think out of the box in terms of project ideas. I left the day feeling inspired to take on my own project in this area one day! Thank you to everybody involved for another great day.” 

To find out more about Skills Lab: Creative Communities, read our blog post here.

To find out more about upcoming workshops, and book your place see ‘Related Events and Media’ linked below.

We are hugely grateful for the support of Help Musicians UK, the Scops Arts Trust, The Garrick Charitable Trust, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The Cultural Recovery Fund to help cover the costs of these courses, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for musicians in these challenging times.