No surprises to declare that I’m unequivocally committed to providing as many children as possible the opportunity to make music and to ensuring that this is as joyful as possible an undertaking for all involved. Although acquiring music skills is definitely hard work the younger the kids the more like play it is. At some point, once basic music competence is reached and that foundation is secured, if further music becomes part of that person’s life then work and study is involved. Passion can only take one so far in any activity.
For the luckiest, the music-making charm is dominating and irresistible; and that sense of achievement, founded through hard work carries, them through and supports them as they strive to overcome any obstacles they stumble across along their way. This is the journey towards playing music in the way it was intended and, or in the manner in which that musician has chosen to interpret it. At some point long hours and much practice are a necessity for any musician, yet, we still want the musical diligence to be joyful; that strong early foundation can clearly be an unyielding hammock of support for this.
I came across as delightful, gregarious, committed and hard-working group of young musicians as you can imagine this summer. And, they were all teenagers! Their love of music was unrelenting and the desire to make it beautiful was equally fervent. They came from all corners of the world, bonding through new friendships, a shared adoration of music in all its forms and genres and a shared experience. I had hoped that this could still be the case, now that we consume music so personally and inwardly most of the time, though to actually see it and hear it was an opportunity to see how far music can bring people together. These people were the epitome of what it means “to music”.
English was the common spoken language though this was not what enabled them to interconnect. It was the realization that to want to play and make music as often as possible, to experiment, to watch, to observe and absorb from others, to support them and push them further was something which they all craved. Undoubtedly not to feel slightly out of place with compatriots was a relief and a reassurance, and released some of the strings which might otherwise have held them back under different circumstances. (It’s a shame that society has moved to expecting either perfection or no music to such an extent that many are put off even trying to make music outside of singing in the bath, but that’s for an alternative discussion.)
For these 100 or so adolescents this was the experience of a lifetime. Some of them will return to the camp next year and the year after, a very few will go on to be names which we all come to recognise and hear about. Each of them knows for certain that music is not only about practicing but also about creating that sound with others, hearing a new piece of music and analyzing how it makes one feel, experimenting with different interpretations, spending time with others who are equally committed to music, taking a walk with them, talking with them, practicing with them, supporting them when they make mistakes and, without ambiguity, enjoying just being and music-making with them.