On 15 May Community Music In Action started a 12 week music project with the charity CASPA, who provide inspirational activities and opportunities for children and young people with high functioning autism.
The wonderful musician and session leader Ned Smith started work with the CASPA interns, a group of 9-13 year olds. The project was joined in week four by singer songwriter, Priscilla Andersohn, who continued with Ned in the next phase of the project.
“These kids need encouraging to think outside the box musically
and to step away from playing the same tunes that they have
heard before. With time and encouragement I’m hoping
they will break away from the safety of well known tunes and do
something different, without feeling like it has to be
played exactly like this or like that, It is a freeing and
great process to be a part of”
Ned Smith, Musician / Creative Lead,
They spent the first few weeks exploring ideas of what music is to them, what they like and dislike and playing games that covered their ideas surrounding composition.
Each week they took turns at playing a variety of instruments including the keyboard, guitar, djembe, percussion and, of course, the voice. It was a time for listening to each other. It was not about concentration but the musical awareness of what each other were doing.
“It has been such a pleasure to be in the creative space
with these youngsters.”
Priscilla, Musician & Session leader
During the first four weeks the children started to construct ideas from the experiences they have had and snow balling that experience creatively.
“All the children are coming in asking
‘when is my music session?!’”
Zoey, Inters Project Manager CASPA
In weeks 5 and 6 the ideas had started shaping up and a number of pieces were emerging that will potentially be performed or recorded.
The emergence of a girl band and their song “Phat Cats R Cool” shaped up nicely with Layla on vocals, Sophie and Maddie on keys and Chloe on percussion and vocals. This song emerged from a pass the sound game, which was put together with a beat. A rap was improvised over the jam and Boom! ‘Phat cats’ were born!
“Ella has been here for 5 years and I have not
seen her focus for that long.”
Lucy, Inters Volunteer – CASPA 13/5/16
There was keen interest in the digital recording of music and Ned used a software application called GarageBand with the groups to capture their ideas, which provided a record of their ideas and music, to listen back to.
Alfie & Clarke have been particularly keen and focused on the elements involved in the recording process.
Whilst the original intention of the project was to prepare performances for the annual CASPA Got Talent showcase, because the date of this event was brought forward to June, it was decided that the young people would record their performances so that their achievements could be shared more widely with family, friends, CASPA and CMIA. So on the 15 July, Ned and Priscilla pulled together the tracks that the young people had recorded and these have been posted throughout this blog for your listening pleasure.
There were a total of 18 young people who attended the project, with 11 attending weekly.
“A beautiful moment for me personally in this project was when all the children went for a walk in the woods except Ella, who stayed behind with Lucy to work with Priscilla one to one on a new song on her own. From a piano part she had been creating at school she talked with Priscilla about summertime and after getting down the key words, Ella was able to thread the lines together. Ella had a moment of uncertainty when trying to play and say words at the same time and was convinced she couldn’t do it! She taught me the piano part and then after we did it together a few times I sat back while she re-taught me a bit and she was doing it all herself! Fantastic development in a short space of time. She was so focused and patient with me. After this moment of achievement Priscilla brought out a small finger piano and showed Ella how to press a rhythm with both hands. The result was spell binding, Ella sitting quietly improvising her way round this gentle instrument… Stunning!”
Helen, CMIA Project Manager
“Ned and Priscilla both have a really gentle and organic way of
letting the children explore their own musicality –
It is a joy to see in action the simplest of games
creating the fundamental basics of
composition with astounding results!
Helen Lolljee, CMIA Project Manager
* give participants the opportunity to engage in creative activities with inspirational professionals
* help them to express themselves in positive ways
* communicate to others what it is like living in their worlds and explore their perspective through singing and songwriting
* raise the aspirations of the young people
* deliver a live performance in the form of a ‘show’ to share with our family, friends and communities – the charity have already planned this event for 15 July 2016
“The staff are really supporting the flow. They really know the children well and are fantastic at getting everyone’s needs met without any pressure to take part. Just to be in the room is a fantastic experience.”
Ned Smith, Musician/ Creative Lead
Below is an interview with Alfie and Ruben, two of the young participants, who talk about their highlights & achievements.