Living Room Music: adapting to new environments

When schools across the UK closed in March, we were forced to reimagine Living Room Music – the programme of composition masterclasses and performance opportunities that we run for A-Level & GCSE Music students.

We had been working with three schools in London since the beginning of the school year, mentoring Music students in the composition component of their exam. Usually, at this time of year, we would have brought a group of professional musicians into the classroom to workshop the students’ tracks and create recordings to be sent to the examining boards.

Our Co-Artistic Director and Living Room Music leader Paul Clark explains how we adapted the process this year:

“With no exams taking place, we had to repurpose our time and that of the group of excellent musicians that we had contracted. At Alexandra Park School in Haringey, we worked with two Year 12 students to realise their jazz-inspired pieces.

We had our first video meeting in April with our ensemble of five superb musicians, our associate artist Alcyona Mick, the school’s Music Teacher and the students. We looked over the students’ scores on paper and listened to a computer realisation of them. Even though a conventional ‘rehearsal’ is beyond the technology at the moment, we had a great session – with each musician feeding back on their own part and offering the students feedback on how they might improve their work to take it to the next level. They had a week to polish the piece, and then the parts were sent out to the players.

We then did a relay-race method of recording with each musician recording on their home studio setup; first the bass, then overdubbing the drums, piano, saxophone and trumpet, layer by layer. I then mixed the results that you hear in the clip here. I was delighted with the quality of the composition and how great it sounded when the musicians weren’t even in the same room.

It’s really got me thinking about how projects like ours could actually flourish online – you can take brilliant musicians, who often congregate in the big cities, into any school in any part of the country and work with young people, inspiring them, supporting under-resourced teachers and helping raise the standard of music making in our schools.”

Listen to ‘Two Minute Limit’ by Ruben Stilitz, a Year 12 A-Level Music student at Alexandra Park School.

Listen to ‘Theme Park’ by Victoria Ojo, a Year 11 GCSE Music student at Brampton Manor Academy.


Credits

Image: Charlotte Glasson recording in her studio.

Music performed by:
Trumpet – Yazz Ahmed
Tenor Saxophone – Charlotte Glasson
Piano – Peter Edwards
Double Bass – Jack Cherry
Drums – Joel Barford