Five young people with sensory impairments experienced a week-long musical extravaganza in August, enjoying sound and sensory theatre at our Summer Music Making Project in Coventry. The creative project, which was a collaboration with theatre company Talking Birds, saw the group explore acoustic and electronic sounds, play, listen and ‘feel’ music, and set sail on a sing-along sensory boat ride.
The project was designed to increase the creative confidence and musical skills of the young people. The activities were very much tailored to the communication needs of each person, and Talking Birds worked hard to ensure that the music making was as sensory and accessible as possible, as well as fun and exciting.
The music making had a ‘watery’ theme, which was perfect given the canal-side location of The Tin Music & Art community space where the group were based. A particular highlight was a special canal boat ride, where the young people sang about drunken sailors and recorded the noises made by the boat.
With the support of professional musicians, everyone’s talents were catered for. Derek Nisbet from Talking Birds describes some of the other musical activities enjoyed by the group:
“We constructed speakers out of bottles that vibrated, and poured in feathers and beads so that you could both see and feel the effect of the sound. We also played cymbals wired up with microphones and set up a ‘Makey Makey’ device, which triggers sounds through bottle tops and bananas. Instruments played included the piano and violin, and we used a loop pedal to record voices and layers of sound.”
The end of the week was particularly special, as the group shared their musical journey and discoveries with parents and carers. Derek, who was involved in the project from start to finish, was also keen to share his experience of working with the group:
“It was a privilege to work with the five young people over the course of a week, exploring music and sound through every sense. It was a journey with each young person to find what clicked for them – whether drumming, singing, the violin, or playing, listening or feeling the sound. We all benefited from the dedication and insight of the support staff and learnt a lot about different ways of navigating the world.”
A huge thank you to everyone who played a role in making the project a triumph; it was a true team effort. Particular thanks to Ann and Anthony, Deb, Adam, Maxine, Heather, Gabbie, Graham – and Tin Arts for making us feel so welcome. We’d also like to thank The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust for funding the project. We can’t wait for next year !