In the previous blog, I shared a simple way in which I explain what Epiphany Music does:
It’s a pithy turn of phrase which can be trotted out at the close of a lift door (see previous post) and it includes some carefully chosen, powerful words. Some of those words are probably worth a little closer scrutiny…
I spend a significant proportion of my time actually going into schools and working alongside children. It’s extraordinarily important work. Not just because of the benefits that music can bring to the lives of these young people but because it fires me up. You see, making music with people – with anybody – is at its best when it’s a two way process. I find the enthusiasm, the delight and the inventiveness of the young people with whom I work inspiring. Their openness, commitment and musical gifting makes me think about my own approaches to composition. It challenges me to pursue all kinds of sounds and structures that I might not have considered otherwise. In short, I get as much as I give.
I think this is vital. I’m doing an increasing amount of public speaking this year – blowing the trumpet, celebrating the success of some of the work with which we’re involved and sharing some of the lessons learned along the way. But I don’t want to fall into the trap of becoming a theoretical expert on the conference circuit. Everything I talk about will be rooted in the reality of experience and the day-to-day practice.
There are vast numbers of people and many different organisations involved in musical/arts work within Special Education Needs & Disability. It’s a thriving eco-system. There are schools, charities, development agencies, music therapists, teachers, community musicians. All doing their own thing – well. It’s a huge range of complimentary approaches. Against that background, I am aware that Epiphany Music is just part of the tapestry. We’ll deliver what we can but there are always going to be times when it’s better if someone else delivers and we will actively support that wherever possible.
One of the best ways I know that we can add value to the offering of others is through practical training. I’ve been involved in this world for over 25 years and I’ve gained a great resource of experience – particularly around the use of music technology. So yes, I’ll happily come and run a Soundbeam workshop in a school but I do believe it would be so much more effective in the long run for me to train up the staff and embed best practice in the local community.
One of the most requested forms of support is what I like to call “The Stockroom Audit”. You know the scene. A school gradually builds up a cupboard full of gadgets. Clever bits and pieces of technology that promised so much. Then staff champions move on, the manual gets lost, a lead gets broken or a long dead battery is left un-replaced. Pretty soon those once hard earned resources become consigned to the dusty cardboard box at the back of the stockroom. If you recognise that picture then do get in touch! There’ll always be a manufacturer or a retailer who will tell you that those old tools are blunt, obsolete and useless but it needn’t be the case. We specialise in blowing off the dust, getting stuff up and running, tracking down manuals and putting the appropriate training in place. (Of course, if something really is beyond its useful life we’ll tell you- and you’ll get unbiased, independent advice about replacement and future purchasing strategy!)