In July of 2020, as part of the Reimagine project, we took our workshop sessions online to deliver an interactive music experience to a range of SEND participants. The project was led by music leader Jack Ross and was supported by viola player Janina Kopinska, clarinettist Matthew Dunn, BSL interpreters Theatre Sign and Sarah Gatford, and Project Managers Marianne Barraclough and Ellie Martindale.

With tight COVID-19 restrictions in place over the summer, it became essential to transform our approach so that we were able to continue to deliver creative sessions to individuals who would most benefit. We ran a course of hour and a half Zoom sessions on a weekly basis encouraging musical engagement inspired by three themes; Kindness, Hope and Change. As part of the Reimagine project, we worked alongside Derby based organisations Hubbub Theatre Company and Quad who similarly began to incorporate these themes in virtual delivery.

As a platform, Zoom is works effectively when focusing on the audio from one individual at a time. With this in mind, we enjoyed opening each session with an interactive musical game where participants could physically respond with movement to different types of sounds played by the instrumentalists. This activity worked well as an ice breaker and also helped the group get to know each other as the weeks went by.

Workshop leader Jack taught the group the song “There’s a River” and with the support from BSL interpreters, we learnt the signs for this piece and used them consistently as we sang. In addition to this, the participants learnt the signs for our project themes; Change  represented with a butterfly, Kindness represented with a sunflower, Hope represented with a rainbow.

Whilst thinking about these themes, we moved on to use the interactive whiteboard function during our Zoom sessions allowing each individual to contribute some words expressing what Kindness, Hope and Change meant to them. These words quickly formed the foundations of an idea for an original song, titled by the group “Dreams and Goals.” Here are some of the words the group came up with during a Zoom session.

From here, Jack started to experiment with the composition of the song, encouraging participants to suggest how they thought the lyrics could be sung, and if the music was going to have ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ harmony. This creative process proved to be really engaging and it was lovely to be able to compose something together so spontaneously using a virtual platform.

Once the contributions from both the participants and workshop instrumentalists were combined, we used Soundtrap, a virtual musical recording software, to finalise our new composition. Soundtrap is highly accessible platform where participants can remotely record multiple vocal/instrumental tracks into a ‘studio’ shared with others in a group. As these Reimagine sessions drew to a close, we were delighted to have created and recorded two original pieces, “Dreams and Goals” as well as an instrumental track titled “Change.”

It is very important to us to celebrate the excellent contributions we had from our summer Reimagine participants and we can’t wait share our musical outcomes! We are currently working towards a culmination of musical and visual creativity together with Quad and Hubbub and will share the results as soon as possible.

Reimagine is an Arts Council England Youth Performance Partnership project, working with Derby Cultural Education Partnership.