My week has already started with two days of accompanying a fantastic group of young people from Barnsley at a rehearsal and then in the Manchester Amateur Choral Competition at the Royal Northern College of Music. One hundred voices singing with confidence, discipline and commitment in a purpose built auditorium that showed them off at their best. http://www.barnsleyyouthchoir.org.uk/
I will also be part of[ events during the coming few days organised by North Lincolnshire Music Support Service presenting inspirational, entertaining and hopefully what will turn out to be aspirational experiences for the children of the area. http://www.musichubnorthlincs.co.uk/ This is only a tiny snapshot of the numerous music related activities that take place all around the country, week in week out, held in all venues from church halls to concert halls, spare rooms to school rooms, coordinated by an assortment of amateurs and professionals with a passion for music.
In the recent climate of needing scientific measurement to prove the worth of any activity a recent study in the UK by Professor Robin Dunbar and team found some very positive effects of music making similar to those achieved by exercise. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/study-performing-music-gets-us-high/267138/ Another study from Northwestern University in the USA by Nina Kraus and team revealed that active engagement in music making improves ‘neural processing’ http://time.com/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-benefits-northwestern/ which in turn makes for more attentive and engaged students in other subject areas.
On a different measuring scale taking part in making music is the important factor and it is not necessarily being able to perform fast, high, low, loud and soft but it is being able to perform with others. To be able to hear what other musicians are doing and fit with them in a sympathetic, supportive and significant way is often the recipe for a happy group dynamic. This in my opinion should be the main aim for performers and when I listen to groups those that are more aware of each other’s contributions often create a more complete sound.
Involvement in music making, whether that be in a band, orchestra or choir, will reap benefits for the participants and hopefully will be the start of lifetime’s attachment with music. Let us hope that those with the purse strings do not decide to trim this important part of a complete education any more and those in charge of curriculum design recognise the value that music can bring to many different subject areas and include it as a core subject.
Photograph by kind permission of M. Alonefti, © Peter R. Birkby 2016