Workshops - In the Community
The workshop-CV page gives an outline description of participatory music-making activity over many years so please read this first.
A listing of projects alone fails to give the unique flavour of each. So here are a few fuller descriptions of favourite projects. Please use these illustrations to imagine how practical work in music and other arts might evolve from the seed of an idea you may have for something exciting to take place in your community…….
Now and Then Around Downham
This was one of a series of multi-art form intergenerational projects that took place in a Norfolk market town between 2005-07. Elderly residents of Ashville House worked alongside young people from Downham Market High School who took part in activity out of school hours with support from the school’s drama teacher.
The starting point of the project was activity which explored past and potential patterns of work in and around Downham Market, based on participants’ histories and aspirations. With the Ashville House residents, Jane led on the creation of an audio soundscape incorporating words, song and music around these themes and texts. Visual artwork included the making of a banner of silkscreen painting.
The young people created a ‘cabaret’ juxtaposing life experiences inspired by resident’s stories alongside those of the young people themselves. The piece also included live music, with new songs and lyrics written by participants, as well as sing-a-long ‘favourites’ for all to join in.
A celebration garden party at Ashville House brought the young people’s performance to an audience of residents, staff, friends and family. At the same event the residents’ soundscape received its first public hearing.
A project culmination Exhibition was staged at The Town Hall during Downham market’s annual Festival in June Festival. The exhibition, hosted by project artists and Ashville House residents, included photos, resident’s life story scrapbooks, visual artwork, a film of the cabaret, quotes and the audio soundscape and proved an enormous success with many visitors.
“We have our lives so easy compared to them. I don’t necessarily have to leave school and start work until I am in my 20's because of university. They were 14! My age now.” (young participant)
“Residents don’t often see young people” (Ashville House Manager)
“A lot has changed between then and now, but deep down everyone is the same.”
The project won a Norfolk ‘Learning Communities’ award. It was managed by Norfolk Music Works with Jen Fulljames for Ashville House and artists included Jane Wells and Les Chappell (sound and music), Tania Spelacy (visuals) along with Cate Markwell (drama).
A Show From Scratch: The Troll with No Heart
This was a half-term holiday workshop that took place many years ago in a village hall over two days for 8-13 year old children. It is memorable because of the simplicity of the enterprise and the enthusiasm of the participants who, by now, will be adults!
Jane led on the devising and performance of the music, storyteller Hugh Lupton on the storytelling, and puppeteer Mike McManus on the visuals. The task was to turn a fairy story into a show in a variety of fun and action-packed sessions ending in an informal performance for parents and friends at the end of the second day. The show included music performed on unpitched and pitched percussion including flower pot bells…..
And here’s the inevitable list of some more community-based workshops and projects undertaken:
Music-making sessions for adults who attend the Sue Ryder Hospice Day Centre in Peterborough run by the Cambridge and London-based organisation, Squeaky Gate (2011- )
Music making sessions for members of the Downham Market Stroke Club and the Swaffham Well Being group (2010-11)
Musician undertaking creative residencies in Cambridgeshire communities and schools for the Vital Communities participatory arts and research project. Music-making within varied residencies in the city of Peterborough, the town of Ramsey and the villages of Fulbourn, Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary (2006-2009).
Project instigator and director of Crossing The Line, an innovative multi-art form project with a focus on experimentation involving musicians, a visual artist, swimming coaches and a group of around 100 participants working over a summer holiday period towards a final performance in Dereham Leisure Centre swimming pool.
…”the project is very unusual and that’s what makes it appealing”…”a wonderful experience and the happiest group of singers I have sung with” (through Norfolk Music Works 2008)
Artistic adviser to North Norfolk District Council for its TAKE OFF residency run in partnership with Britten Sinfonia; musician leading some of the community music making sessions including a monthly creative music-making workshop for non-beginner adult and 13+ musicians.(2003-05)
Leading in Norfolk four six-session courses for the Workers Education Association community programme involving older people through day centres (on three occasions) and at a nursing home (one occasion) in singing and the composition of an original song on a theme chosen by each group eg the demise of local railway transport when working in a day centre converted from an old station booking office (2002-2005)
Collaboration with the multi-cultural musicians of the visiting Grand Union Orchestra to involve two ongoing community music-making groups run through Norfolk Music Works in the creation and performance of pieces as part of full evening shows at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange The community groups were In Vocal Mode adult singing group and Beat That Beat family percussion group (through Norfolk Music Works 2001 and 2002)
Composer leader, for terms 1 and 3, of a team of Britten Sinfonia musicians working weekly after-school over a year on their Non-Uniform Music outreach project after school at West Earlham Middle School, Norwich/ Shows devised around themes of A Day Out in Norwich and A Christmas Cabaret’ (for Britten Sinfonia 2002)
Devising and leading a week-long residency at Ingoldismell, Lincolnshire, creating a piece of music incorporating songs and instrumentals devised both in school time with children, and at evenings sessions with the children and their parents. The project took the huge seaside fair and skyline of big dippers as its starting point with many of the participants working in this seasonal resort. (for the Firebird Trust 2002)
Co-leading with writer, Mick Gower, an intergenerational creative project for Sheringham Little Theatre on the theme of ‘Home’ working at an Age Concern Day Centre and Sheringham Primary School to produce an extended piece of recorded music incorporating text for performance with choreography (2000-2001)
Creative direction of Listen In Sound, a project inspired by Terry Riley's In C for the Norwich Festival involving around 100 Norfolk people from ages 7 to 85 in creating original pieces alongside a performance of Riley's In C (through Norfolk Music Works 1999)
Musician leading the Time and Tides project on a Huntingdon estate involving older people and top primary children together making puppets, art objects and music during a five day residency with puppeteer, Meg Amsden (through Cross Border Arts and the Firebird Trust 1999)
Instigator and director of a series of three events under the title of Music In Unusual Places , two of these projects involving teenagers and younger children in devising music for performance in (1) Stamford swimming pool (2) a Grantham shopping Centre. The music-making was co-led with Duncan Chapman and was supported by a PRS Composers-in Education award (through A Wider Air 1996)