Our mission statement – as it relates to our work in Special Educational Needs settings – includes three important words: “Creative”, “Accessible” & “Inclusive”. It’s worth unpacking these a little further…
Much of the music we make with young people starts with a blank sheet of paper! This is in contrast to a more repertoire based approach – teaching songs, for example. I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I think a “creative” approach to musical engagement is in any way inherently “superior” – or that creativity and repertoire are mutually exclusive.
In fact it’s perfectly possible to be creative with repertoire material and, of course, once something is created it can enter the repertoire! I guess it’s a question of starting points and, as a composer, my instinct is to start with the blank page – or at least some improvisation skills and a listening ear. In any case, there’s a huge back-catalogue of repertoire resources and, in most settings, staff are usually reasonably confident in using existing songs. Where I think Epiphany Music can add value is in the creative, improvisatory, blank-sheet-of-paper approach.
And I believe there is great value to be found in this way of working alongside children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. I find that if I start out with a clear idea of the musical material there’s always a danger that our music making becomes something I do to the young people – rather than an adventure shared between partners. I see it as my role to listen and to wait for even the tiniest nugget of musical input and then use my abilities and experience to weave that into something beautiful and jointly owned.