At Sheffield Music School we offer general musicianship classes which focus on building practical musical skills relevant to today’s aspiring young musicians. For our winter term class, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Polly Ives, the founder and director of Concerteenies.
Concerteenies are interactive concerts designed to bring the joy of live music to children under 3 and their grown-ups. Polly spent a morning working alongside our young musicians as they devised a themed concert, Under the Sea, to enchant a new generation of music lovers. The programme featured classics, such as Stauss’ The Blue Danube and Saint-Saëns’ The Swan, alongside an original, improvised composition, Tides. This special concert gave our students the opportunity to devise and programme their own concert, providing a wonderful incentive and fresh excitement to our weekly rehearsals.
We weren’t the only ones excited about our Under the Sea concert; the free tickets were snatched up within minutes of going live! Selling out so quickly provided a real boost in maintaining enthusiasm in the weeks leading up to the concert. On the day of the concert, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Bubbles, fish and seaweed scarves complemented the music, helping our young audience to actively participate in the music through play and dance. The positive response from the parents affirmed the efforts of our students.
Involvement in Concerteenies benefited our young musicians enormously. As performers, Concerteenies reminded them that live music is a community activity and shifted the focus to audience participation rather than individual performers. The joy of the young audience members helped defuse any feelings of stress or anxiety, which so often accompany performance. In addition, our students learned skills such as music programming, composing, developing audiences and performing. Collaboration and teamwork really do allow creativity to thrive and enable big goals to be me.
The success of our collaboration with Polly was due in large part to the way our musicians took the project to heart and threw their efforts into preparing for the event. Perhaps the biggest difficulty was simply not having enough space to accommodate a larger audience. It would be brilliant to develop this project further, perhaps by exploring the possibility of hiring a venue or collaborating with another arts organisation. In the meantime, we look forward to our next term’s educational adventures with our music students.