We spoke to Siobhan Clough about the BSO Resound residency and her role in working with the pupils.
Siobhan is a violin/viola player and a member of the RPS Award-winning ensemble, BSO Resound, the disabled-led ensemble at the core of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
We support the ensemble and its mission to inspire the next generation of disabled talent through its performances and workshops in schools across the South West and beyond. In the last year BSO Resound has established a residency at Treloar School, Hampshire, which provides education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training to young people with physical disabilities. The group visit the school several times throughout the academic year.
How does the residency work?
We will normally begin each session with a brief hello and introduce who is in the room, so everyone is aware who they are working with. There are normally one or two pieces that need to be covered with the students. In some sessions both pieces are covered and in others only one. It completely depends on the day, the piece, and how the students manage with the difficulty level of each piece. After a run-through of the chosen piece/s, players from BSO Resound will be partnered with one or two students. Each student might want to cover different aspects of the piece, and we spend roughly a third of each session working on a one-to-one basis to cover any difficult areas. During this time, I focus on making the music suit better to the player’s individual needs, building confidence and developing musicianship in the form of rhythms, dynamics, and fluidity of the musical line. I may then add more notes to the initial Clarion set-up in order to make it more complex, if suitable.
Why is this work important?
This work is important in several ways:
It allows the students to grow musically as both an individual and within their ensemble
It allows them to develop confidence in their ability, and therefore progress in capability as a new skill is acquired.
These workshops allow these individuals to understand and see that musicians that have disabilities can have a professional career in music.
Having one-to-one parts of the session with students allows BSO Resound to fully focus on one student and try and set and achieve new goals with them.
Tell us about the changes you’ve witnessed…
I’ve seen some positive progression in confidence and a willingness to trial new ideas with the students that I have been working with on a one-to-one basis. There is no prescribed method that can be used for all the students, as each student’s rate of learning and ability differs greatly. In particular, we have tried many different methods to enable one student, who uses Clarion technology, to read the music whilst playing. This is difficult as your eyes are needed to create the music on screen, so they cannot be looking at a separate sheet of paper whilst trying to play the instrument. This student now spends a lot of time memorising the music, and now has the music above the iPad to reference if needed, rather than a normal music stand set-up. The student communicates at the end of each session whether or not the session has worked better for them, and, if not we try new ideas the following session. Mostly, I have seen individuals who do not believe that they are capable, grow in confidence in their musical ability. They attempt to play more complex lines each week, and are able to consistently play an easier part without stopping. This can be seen to the extent where they now feature as soloists in the final performances, which are recorded at the end of each session.
Do you want to add anything about how the violin (and music, generally) is helping you to make sense of all that is happening in the world right now?
Despite all that is currently happening in the world we still have music. I believe the best way to move forward during these uncertain times is knowing that this won’t be forever. I’m grateful and lucky to be able to continue playing the violin and expanding my musicianship whilst on lockdown. I can still practice and set new daily goals in order to progress musically. I have the time to work on pieces that otherwise I wouldn’t have. Whilst some struggle with the amount of free time we all now have, I see it as a blessing to be able to have more time to give to practice/studies and continuing the never-ending task of becoming a better musician.
Do you have a message for the young musicians? Are you looking forward to performing with them again soon?
Whilst you may be stuck in a cycle where you don’t know what to do with this sudden amount of free time, think about all the things you could achieve with it. Whether it be reading a book about a certain musician or musical genre, increasing the amount of playing and performing you do per day, use this time wisely. Don’t waste it on repeating a phrase over and over again because you aren’t sure what else to do, have a daily new goal and try to achieve it. I very much look forward to returning back to normality and being able to share musical findings and performing with fellow musicians again. I hope that all the young musicians at the School are looking forward to playing with each other again soon, as well as working with BSO Resound as much as I am!
Find out more about BSO Resound and the ensemble’s forthcoming performances.
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