It has become a running joke in the office, my frequent trips up the A12 to Lowestoft. I know things are getting out of hand because I am finding entertainment in achieving an mpg of 50 or above and the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. I also get lost a lot when I actually get to Lowestoft. It does add excitement to the day but is it time efficient? Not really.
There is a point to all this though. I am working on a new singing initiative, Aldeburgh Sings, which is going to increase and embed music provision in Lowestoft. The town has some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the county and some of the most vulnerable children too. Our initiative has created a community-based singing group, called Group A, to get children and young people involved in singing.
Group A is for 8 – 18 year olds, you don’t have to audition to join and it is free for everyone who takes part too. At the moment we have around 20 members but over the next 3 years we would like to grow this to be 100. The group will represent a breadth of young people from across the town. Group A explores a huge variety of genres, from Classical to Pop and works with a brilliant team of musicians. They are enjoying really creative projects that require them to improvise, compose and develop strong performance skills. Most importantly a Group A session is really fun. There is much silliness that has some serious benefits: building confidence, teamwork, opening up new ideas, raising aspirations and creating a sense of well-being. We wrote our own Group A song last week, which is just a small part of helping to create that sense of ‘belonging’ to a group too.
The project also involves work with schools and other community groups. At Ormiston Denes Academy we have created a choir. After two great sessions it is sounding brilliant and shows huge promise for expanding and establishing itself as an important group within the school. We are also running workshops with local primary schools. The latest workshop, with 60 year 5 and 6s from Red Oak Primary School, was very (extremely) energetic (chaotic) but great fun. We learnt a song written by one of our artists, Aga, about a fish before composing a song of our own based on an underwater party, from the perspective of the fish attending. “We could eat fish fingers”, said a year 5 in my group…”but that would be cannibalism”, said a year 6.
In summary, we are at the start of a really exciting initiative in the town and beginning to build great relationships with the organisations, schools and most importantly young people there. I might grumble about the traffic light that only lets two cars through at a time (and believe me, I do) but the travelling is definitely worth it. All this time spent networking, meeting people and working with Lowestoft’s young people is ensuring that there are strong foundations upon which to build this project, which will undoubtedly have a hugely positive impact on those who are involved in the next 3 years and beyond.
Did I mention getting stuck behind thousands of tractors?