Italian Sample Project - CoRe
The Peer reflection of Sample Projects had a dual role within our MusInc project.
- To help evaluate the effectiveness of the example sample project as promoting musical inclusion
- To help develop a Quality Framework exemplifying Best Practice across the partnership
We are presenting here a summary of the feedback from all partners (including self evaluation from the deliverers of the featured Sample Project)
The short version of peer feedback can be summarised by three questions:
- What was good?
- What was best?
- What could have been improved?
- With existing resources?
- With additional preparation/resources?
What was good?
It seemed that everything we saw the Italian team do was good, and the project exemplified good practice.
There was good engagement from the targeted participants (the old people) and their support/carers.
Sessions were well planned and ran for just the right amount of time.
The musicians all had a good relationship with the residents. The participants all enjoyed making music with the musicians, and best use was made of working in the homes where people live and have their familiar surroundings and usual support, so are therefore they are relaxed and able to concentrate on making music rather than worrying about where things are, where they should be etc.
The musician had excellent musical skills and was able to adapt them to the needs of the group and it was obvious that the participants had helped design the project by contributing their memories and their musical choices.
What was best?
Opinion varied in the feedback, but two things stood out as being the best.
The final concert, where all the participants were able to join in at their own level, and they really enjoyed each other’s performances. It was a joy to see the manager of the old peoples home being part of the choir!
The other stand out feature was the ability of the music leader Simone. He is a very skilful musician but also an excellent facilitator, respecting the ability of everyone in the group and providing them with a challenging context to rise to the performance.
What could have been improved?
With existing resources?
The project team is very experienced and it seemed that there were very few suggestions for improvement. They used the space given really well, moving furniture around to allow participants to see each other.
With additional preparation/resources?
At the final concert, it could have been made more special with some form of refreshment for audience and cast to talk to each other.
There was one incident that the UK team picked upon during the concert, when the musician sat on an old woman’s lap. This is not a matter of familiarity but physical safety as some women have brittle bones as they get older. The necessity of a Risk Assessment comes into the project planning. We should understand that this particular musician probably knew he was safe to sit on this particular woman’s lap.
We appreciate as very useful the method to use “musica popolare / folk” to improve interaction in this CoRe group. Simone has used successfully well known/ popular songs creating a good interaction with his target group. It’s a very interesting way to keep active the participants. . . . to relax and give the feeling of trust, (Romania)
. . . the first event, which was the grand event, where they have worked very long, very hard, then the result, in my opinion, is simply brilliant. When we go home we can tell everyone how people work with seniors here and how much they have managed to do. All of this is valuable from every point of view. Also, only from the vibration, with the moment’s essence, that energy- it is absolutely visual in the eyes. For example, the soloist is singing, but the others are living along in the energy, they are working together too and it is not sensed that they would be tired during this hour. It was a very emotional and powerful moment, when you see what can be done with huge and patient work, what can be done with love. (Latvia)
He again began with breathing exercises, with coordination, with vocal warming up exercises. Also methodologically correctly he went from phrase to phrase. There was the feeling that this song is known to them- the Italian folk song was step by step put together and brought to a performance. In the finally he played the accordion, asked a lady to dance and while dancing accompanied her beautifully to her place. Attractive and beautiful ending. (Latvia)
Simone is a very charismatic performer, who has the performance skills to engage his audience: he used a simple tune combined with the kind of dynamics- and melody-learning tasks, which weren’t beyond the abilities of the residents of the old people’s home, and the participants also had energy left to enjoy the session. (Hungary)
We feel that most of Simone’s session didn’t have that much to do with musical skill, but much more with performance skills and good judgement of the situation. While we are obviously not saying that a community musician doesn’t have to be as good a musician as someone working in a different environment, it’s worth noting that outstanding musical ability might not be the most important factor in being able to work successfully as a community musician (Hungary)
The music team went in respecting that this was someone’s home. . . . There was not a lot of room, but the team had a strong relationship with the setting staff, who had a role over and above the pastoral care of the old people, but took an active part in the session and the music making. (UK)
He (Simone) used his left hand a lot, keeping the rhythm and the chords going while he was adapting to the needs of the group. If people were struggling with pitch he would bring in more of the right hand to play the melody to support them, this improved their confidence. He has the ability to play quietly while people are singing, or louder to attract attention. (UK)
Self -reflection by Italian Team
Suitability seems to depend more on communication than on material. Speaking of communication, precise instructions, clear requests and minimal passages are preferable: breaking up in simple elements is always safer and more effective
It is important to make sure to be listened to, to control the reaction to instructions and act accordingly: being observant and reactive to feedback.
A fundamental skill is actually that of changing planned activities and communication ways according to the reactions of participants, observing, collecting, and answering to, feedbacks from them.
The space is always a decisive factor, often given: participants were placed at start according to a schema that couldn't be changed later. Discriminating factors were distance and proximity, but more than decisions on how to use the space, they seemed choices dictated by the intention of establishing a certain kind of relationship. An important factor to consider is how to move in the given space, for example, going towards participants, in order to involve them.
Musical skills needed to be a good community musician, more than those typical of an instrumentalist, are close to those of a choir or orchestra director, or even a composer: listening to your own audience and adapting to a given setting are musical competencies even more than playing an instrument with mastery Being skilled in playing an instrument allows, on the other hand, to use it in the proper way to make music. Giving concerts, of course, is another job.
The musical instrument is an help or an obstacle to communication. What use of the instrument is functional to the community musician? How is this “use” related to “playing”?