The Lancaster Collective is based in Ripley St Thomas, a large comprehensive school with a genuinely broad intake from the surrounding area. We recruited via a presentation in a Year 10 assembly followed by an open call for interested musicians.
The ensemble launched with 10 members from the school – three vocalists, trumpet, alto sax, guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and percussion, and was a mixed ability group with a range of different experiences.
We began weekly sessions finding out about each other’s music and expectations for the project. We did exercises to get us thinking about playing in groups and listening to each other and started to develop some of these to produce the green shoots of original music.
Over the next few months, the group developed two great pieces to completion that reflected them and that they had investment in.
We had a trainee music leader helping in the sessions; a musician from another local school who had been accepted to study at Guildhall School of Music. This worked well on several levels, facilitating greater engagement and reflection and it provided an invaluable training opportunity.
In early March, the group played their first show at a Music Hub concert to a packed house at the Platform in Morecambe on a big stage with full PA rig. They closed the concert and represented themselves really well, performing with great confidence and without music and got a great reception.
Just before lockdown we were fortunate enough to have Emma Johnson come over and lead a creative session with the group. Emma listened to them playing their two tunes and provided some great constructive feedback. She then took them through some ways of starting group composition which resulted in a very dramatic intro groove for the next James Bond movie theme!
Obviously we have had to pause the project for the moment, but the players have already got a lot out of it that they can take forwards into future music and life situations and we were fortunate enough to have played a gig – which really punctuated progress to date.
The Leeds Collective is based at Rodillian Academy – a large secondary school situated between Leeds and Wakefield.
The group was launched in October 2019. Recruitment was done by the music teacher at Rodillian Academy who targeted young people he felt might both be interested in the project and who would most benefit from the sessions.
The group has seven members from Year 8-11 and the instruments played included piano, bass, guitar, drums, percussion, tabla and violin. This is a mixed ability group with very limited previous experience of improvisation and ensemble playing or playing by ear.
At the outset of the project we discussed our musical interests and the aims, hopes, and plans of the project. We discussed the need for mutual respect, support and focus, and that the group would create its own original music
The sessions were running weekly for approximately 75 minutes and the areas we focused on were:
‘The Ghetto’ by Donny Hathaway
‘You ain’t gonna know me ‘cos you think you know me’ by Louis Moholo
‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock
‘Blinded by your Grace’ by Stormzy
Most of our time has been spent creating new music, including two new pieces, which were due to be performed at a concert on Friday 13th March 2020. Unfortunately, this concert was cancelled due to the current situation with Covid -19.
The two pieces were both composed/ devised through improvisation sessions, smaller group collaborations and have involved the group doing lots of listening and refining.
The project has been a great success so far and we are currently exploring with the school ways in which we may be able to continue some of this work with the young people remotely.