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4 Minute Read Reimagining the Youth Orchestra

Creating The Young Person’s Orchestra for the 21st Century

In our first blog post (May 2020) we wrote about our search for hope in the face of what appeared to be a significant threat to music education. In that moment, we saw the possibility that uncertain times might offer opportunities to dream up different structures, pedagogies and approaches to the music ensemble. To imagine what this might look like, we took inspiration from Shieh and Allsup’s (2016) reframing of the large ensemble as a flexible, hybrid collective, in which ‘multiple projects exist simultaneously and are loosely connected in a community of support’ (p. 33).

Animate Orchestra is a program delivered by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. The program brings together school-aged musicians from different cultural backgrounds and with diverse musical interests, and it supports them to create and play their own music in what is described as a ‘Young Person’s Orchestra for the 21st Century’.

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4 Minute Read

Why the US election has made us hopeful about music as social action

2020 has felt, at times, like a challenging hike across rocky terrain. No sooner does a patch of sunlight illuminate the pathway ahead than it is obscured by a cloud of grim world news, and we descend, once again, into frustration and despair.

It is easy to mistrust our memories of this sunlight and the clarity we experienced. So, catching hold of one such moment, this post reflects on the recent US election and what it has shown us about the positive ways that music can support social movements.

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4 Minute Read The Gap What We Have Learnt

Baking sourdough bread: A metaphor for understanding how music as social action works (and doesn’t always work)

As we were finalising this post, we heard that Dr Kim Dunphy had passed away. Agrigento wishes to recognise Dr Dunphy’s international contribution to dance therapy and cultural development and the profound loss that will be felt by her community in Australia and more widely. This article is indebted to her work.

In Agrigento’s office in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia, Louise’s daughter has been baking sourdough. She has nurtured the starter, asking: Does it respond best to strong white, wholemeal or rye flour? She has watched it develop and fail to develop. She has cared for the dough, experimenting with water content ratios, different rise conditions, and cold or hot ovens.

Sourdough has taught this young woman a lot. It has taught her patience, diligence and humility, and encouraged her to be curious and learn through experimentation. Perhaps most importantly, she has learnt to acknowledge equally what works and what doesn’t.

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4 Minute Read Our Work

Creating spaces for co-producing knowledge about music as social action

In early September, Geoff and I both attended the first of York St John University’s International Centre for Community Music (ICCM) Conversations. This session featured a presentation by Stephen Clift titled, The need for robust critique of arts and health research – with reference to music and health. Our attention had been grabbed by the titles of both this presentation and a blog post by Stephen, shared with attendees, that suggested a strong resonance with our work with Agrigento.